Stuart Breckenridge

Subscription Pricing

Subscription pricing is a contentious issue when it comes to software. Two great articles caught my attention over the last few days.

Michael Tsai:

It’s certainly true that people are wary of subscriptions. But I wonder how much of the recent backlash is due to the subscription model itself and how much is due to the fact that, in practice, transitions to subscriptions have effectively been large price increases.

Nick Heer:

While Tsai points out that subscriptions have increased the price of software for their typical lifespan, let’s not forget that some people are comfortable using an older version of software for longer.

I agree with both of these points of view. However, I also believe that people are wary of subscriptions because they don’t know what will happen at the end of their subscription period. Based on my subscriptions, if I stop paying at the end of the subscription period or otherwise cancel:

  • Creative Cloud: I’d lose access to Photoshop and Lightroom, making the apps useless
  • Office 365: I’d lose access to the Office Suite, making the apps useless
  • TextExpander: Snippets would stop expanding, making the app useless
  • 1Password: My account would be frozen but existing items would be usable
  • WebStorm: I’d lose access to future updates, but I’d have a perpetual license for the latest version of the software as at the end of my subscription

Of all those, I think WebStorm provides a reasonable middle ground in a subscription model: when you cancel you’ll have a perpetual license to use the latest version of the software as at the end of your subscription. It’s the most equitable solution for consumer and developer, and, to Nick’s point, lets people use the software version that they are happy with, while not paying for future releases that mean nothing to them.


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