The Subscription Model is Fucked

over 8 years ago from , Designer + Developer

The subscription model is broken. I just can't afford to add another monthly bill to my out goings.

Never mind my normal monthly expenditure but I really can't justify paying €20 p/m on a really really nice web app, while I'm paying €9 p/m on Netflix.

The worst thing is I want to give them my money… I just feel like I've reached my limit on apps I can sign-up for.

Does anyone else feel like this?


  • Corin EdwardsCorin Edwards, over 8 years ago

    This doesn't sound like a very strong argument against the subscription model for anyone with more than €29.

    We all live within our means.

    I don't think the sailing boat model is broken just because I can't afford one.

    44 points
    • Robert Farrelly, over 8 years ago (edited over 8 years ago )

      Sorry Corin, you’re right I probably should have expanded a little more on my post. It was really a bit rushed and was in relation to a subscription for a service that I felt slightly was over priced.

      My point is that my subscription list just keeps growing… It’s a great model for a business’ but probably not the greatest model for a consumer. A lot of people will subscribe to an app or a product and then forgot about it. So what happens if you update your bank details or maybe you're tight on money one month. Do you lose the service? The problem for me is I never actually own anything.

      Some people like Treehouse manage this beautifully, if you find yourself watching the change purse one month you can easily pause your subscription and start it again.

      But what I was really getting at was that I end up holding off on paying for something as it’s a subscription based format rather than a once off payment or a pay-as-you-go service.

      Here’s a short list of what I would pay for on a monthly / yearly Basis: Forgive me if of the prices are slightly off.

      • Dropbox: €100 p/y (Delighted to pay for it)
      • Creative Cloud: €60 p/m
      • Spotify: €9 p/m
      • Dropmark: €5 p/m
      • Treehouse: €25 p/m
      • Flasties: €4
      • Freshbooks: €20 p/m (personal) + €10 p/m (business split)
      • Tunnel Bear: €4 p/m
      • Google Apps: €5 p/m
      • Basecamp: €20p/m
      • Webfaction: €100 p/y
      • Register365: €100 p/y
      • Webink: €100 p/y
      • Type kit: €49 p/y

      And that’s just me thinking off the top of my head. All I’m saying is that there is some stuff that is essential and other I would love to sign-up for but I hesitate because I do run a small studio I do have to watch costs — I’d be much happier to pay a once off cost for a lot of stuff that would give me ownership but it doesn’t seem to be the model that people use.

      14 points
      • Luke CarpenterLuke Carpenter, over 8 years ago

        TypeKit Portfolio is included with the expensive Adobe Creative Cloud option

        4 points
      • Cody IddingsCody Iddings, over 8 years ago

        You just got to choose to what's necessary - like anything else in life. Is your Spotify subscription necessary? Absolutely not! Could you use Trello instead of Basecamp. Etc

        10 points
        • Robert Farrelly, over 8 years ago

          Exactly. I'm saying there is a lot of good products that won't be used because they use a model that is not best suited for their product. Or they value their product to high initially rather than looking at the long-term.

          I'm not sure what the right balance is for these companies, I'm sure they put in a lot more time thinking about it then I do. All I was saying is I seen a really nice web-app that I felt was a little to costly as a subscription service.

          1 point
          • Adrian HowardAdrian Howard, over 8 years ago

            Exactly. I'm saying there is a lot of good products that won't be used because they use a model that is not best suited for their product. Or they value their product to high initially rather than looking at the long-term.

            How do you know it's not best suited to their product? How do you know that they value their product to highly?

            Businesses want the most revenue, not the most customers.

            Lowering prices does not always create enough new customers to make up for the lost revenue.

            0 points
      • Chris SlowikChris Slowik, over 8 years ago

        I know quite a few of those have yearly options. Almost all subscription services I've come across do.

        I know the feeling though. Recently purged my life of all subscriptions I could afford to lose.. its quite liberating =]

        0 points
      • Luke JonesLuke Jones, over 8 years ago

        Are you a freelancer, or do you run a studio? If it’s the former, you could easily cut down some of these costs, if it’s the latter you need to charge your clients more.

        Here’s a breakdown of what is unnecessary in your list:

        • Creative Cloud at €60. I assume you only need Photoshop and Illustrator? Get the Photography plan (~£8 per month) and the Illustrator plan (add £15 per month to that).
        • Dropmark: €5. Get something like Ember or just use Pinterest.
        • Treehouse: €25. Do you really need this? I mean, really?
        • Freshbooks: €20/10 split. Why do you pay twice? If it’s so you can manage your bookkeeping at home, just use a Google Drive spreadsheet.
        • TypeKit €49: This comes with CC.

        Save €127.40 or so a month by sorting your stuff out.

        Honestly? I just think you need to stop being so frivolous.

        1 point
        • Robert Farrelly, over 8 years ago (edited over 8 years ago )

          Luke, I understand where you I can makes and I really appreciate the break down. I think I more saying that a lot of companies that launch subscription models because others have them in place. I don't think there could be other alternatives. I also just upped my fees.

          But as I said do you feel like the subscription model works for every website / app out there?

          0 points
    • Pebbles Lee, over 5 years ago

      I feel like it was more an opinion than an argument, and even were it an argument, a customer's point of view is never weak. Dare I say it's all that matters to a business. If he doesn't buy a product for a great reason, or if he doesn't buy a product for a superfluous reason, the business gets the same … nothing.

      I agree that the subscription model is broken, and I’ll make my argument.

      Once someone subscribes to the service, the payments have momentum. That is, like all negative-option billing, you don’t have to do much to keep them coming. Objects in motion tend to stay in motion and all that. Since you’re already getting the money, the most you often have to do is just not screw up to keep it coming.

      When you have to EARN the money, though, it’s different. NOW you have motivation. If you don’t wow potential customers with your next version, they won’t buy it. The momentum of not paying stays with the customer and you have to overcome it with a great product.

      Subscriptions breed laziness. I’ve seen it time and time and time again. Bugs that aren’t fixed, features that never arrive … the motivation isn’t there. After all, you’ll make roughly the same amount whether you squash the bugs or not. Developers like to say it encourages better products, but the exact opposite is far more common. Developers get lazy. For crying out loud, I stopped counting the number of bugs in Adobe’s products, many present for 3-4 years or more.

      Last but not least, you either have to commit to paying for it every month for the rest of your life, or there’s not reason to ever buy it. After all, once you stop paying, in many cases, all of the effort you’ve put forth in the app can cease to have anything to show for it. You can pay hundreds upon hundreds of dollars for an application, and the minute you stop paying, having nothing to show for it … unable to open even things you created in it. This is by design, as it entices you to continue paying for the application even though it may be full of bugs and lacking the features you really want.

      The customer is always right. The customer is king. If a customer, any customer, thinks the subscription model is broken, then the subscription model is broken. At least for them. They don’t need a reason, either. Some people are better than others at verbalizing their thoughts, and the better verbalizers aren’t necessarily the more lucrative customers.

      I hate subscriptions, and always will. The notion that people should have 100+ revolving payments is silly, but to participate in the economy to the same degree they had for the past decade, that’s exactly what they’ll have to do. That’s definitaly not a benefit to the customer.

      Sure, the model is flourishing now, but it won’t take more than a moderate recession to damage this business model, and it will happen. I think it will be far worse for these companies than had they simpy charged a reasonable price for the software. I guess we’ll see.

      1 point
      • Corin EdwardsCorin Edwards, over 5 years ago

        Weird 3 year later resurrection...

        The idea that the customer is the only thing that matters to a sustainable business is pretty naive. There are a bunch of ways that a business has to focus on itself in order to continue and to thrive. Resourcing, employment, legal obligations, taxation etc. None of these have a direct impact on the customer, and the customer has no impact on them.

        That you should also treat every user's gripe equally is also impractical.

        0 points
  • Lee Simpson, over 8 years ago

    Would you say the luxury car market is 'fucked' because you can't afford a $300k for a Bentley?

    Your point makes no sense at all.

    17 points
    • Robert Farrelly, over 8 years ago (edited over 8 years ago )

      Not really the same is it.

      I was saying I would prefer to have the option to pay $300k in cash for the Bently rather than paying 10k in instalments forever…

      2 points
    • Axel ValdezAxel Valdez, over 8 years ago

      He's saying the car market is fucked because he needs to pay 30k monthly and only be renting the car.

      13 points
    • Stephen McCarthyStephen McCarthy, over 8 years ago

      Lee, you are being a bit dismissive there I think. Your point makes no sense at all.

      I agree with some of what you are saying Rob. At the end of the day it comes down to managing your finances though. Making sure you end subscriptions when you don't need them.

      Pact Coffee are an example of a good subscription model. They let you suspend your account for a month or 2 if you want.

      6 points
    • Andrew LiebchenAndrew Liebchen, over 8 years ago

      I think he'd say the luxury car market is fucked if the primary model there were that you had to rent each part of your car each month: engine pistons, seats, steering wheel, etc.

      3 points
  • Peter McDonaghPeter McDonagh, over 8 years ago (edited over 8 years ago )

    All of those little apps at €5-10 /month add up quickly alright.

    With the trend for apps that do one thing really well, there are more apps than ever that are designed and priced to solve quite a specific problem for a specific set of people. To be honest, it's a refreshing change from bloated all-things-to-all-people software like Outlook, Sage. For these people, that simple app will ease a pain point that will save them tons of time, simplify their workflow, or make a tedious task a wee tiny bit more enjoyable. And to them, that extra €5-10 (or even €20) is a bargain. Is that worth it for you? It depends how painful the problem it solves is, or how much it will improve your work, or speed up your output.

    The subscription model is actually not a bad test for software — if it actually does what it promised, you'll have no problem continuing to pay for it. You can test it, try it out, see if it fits, with almost no commitment. If it works for you, great, you'll have no problem paying the subscription. If it doesn't, there's no loss — cancel your subscription (or free trial) and move on. It's light years ahead of the advertising model which promises that everything will be perfect and then delivers a shitty product (Jerry Seinfeld hits the nail on the head here — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHWX4pG0FNY). In a way, it's like natural selection for software, and it means that the product, not the marketing, will ultimately determine it's success.

    Then there are the running costs associated with a web-app. Servers, hosting support, account admin, payment processing, development, security. While there are no distribution costs (like there were when we used to buy our software on CD-ROMs) the running costs add up fast. Should the software company have to predict how long each user will use the service up front, and absorb the difference? Maybe, but we don't do this with phones, internet, roads, or any other service where there ongoing maintenance and infrastructure is required.

    But what if it's a nice-to-have? I guess that's the sticking point. By adding a monthly outgoing it's a commitment, rather than a once-off purchase that you might have splurged on if you were feeling flush, or had worked really hard and deserved a treat.

    From a business point of view, the subscription model makes a lot of sense. Having recently made the jump to freelance there no way I'd have had a couple of grand sitting around to buy Creative Suite up front. I wasn't sure how long I'd be freelancing for — it could be 3 months or 3 years, so it would have made no sense to make a hefty investment like that. Instead, with the subscription model, I was able to start using all of the tools that I needed to do my job right away. By spreading the cost it fits a lot better with cashflow. Now, if you're an established business, you might have a nice little cash pot to smooth the irregular expenses like a new copy of CS every couple of years. But for the rest of us, pay as you go is nice.

    But I'll not deny that sometimes it's nice to own something and not be tied to a payment plan til infinity. It's a bit like renting for the rest of your life or buying a house. Buying a house is usually cheaper in the long run, but you need more cash up front, it requires more commitment to offset the initial purchase, and you'll have to squirrel away cash for irregular bills like maintenance and redecorating. But if you rent, your landlord will take care of things when they break, you can change plans easily, stay there for as long as it works for you, move around. If there's a better place for cheaper, you can move there. That analogy held up better than I expected!

    You asked is €20/month too much. Maybe it's not worth €20/month to you, but to someone else, it might be the exact thing that will take the drudgery out of their job. But if it does neither, it won't be around for long.

    The subscription model is natural selection for software.

    edit: bloody hell, I wrote a blog post by accident.

    4 points
    • Aytekin Tank, over 8 years ago

      I was going to write the same thing. Thank you for saving me time. I just upvated instead.

      Before JotForm, I have sold software for one-time fee. It is really hard to keep afloat when you have small number of customers. You also don't have motivation to keep improving your software for previous purchasers. It is a constant treadmill of trying to find new customers.

      Subscription model is good for customers because the product developer has a great incentive to keep customer happy. We are constantly trying to find ways to make existing customers happy.

      0 points
  • Seán MongeySeán Mongey, over 8 years ago

    The model is good but I’ve found pricing strategy/structure is usually down to the company’s service being aimed at general or professional consumption.

    Analysing either of these types side-by-side is usually what also gives me that feeling of mounting subscription costs.

    For example: Netflix !== Flatsies (I pay only marginally more for Netflix than I do for Flatsies despite Netflix being a substantially more impressive technical and logistical feat)

    The difference being, one is for general consumption and one professional. There are far fewer people mocking up website screens in browser than there are watching TV. So, in order to justify the production of their services they tailor pricing to suit their audience.

    Another point to note is that companies more and more are offering services not products. Would you go to your local Car Wash and pay a one-time-only fee for the rest of your life to ensure you could get a Car Wash whenever you needed?

    Life could get expensive very quickly should we go down the ‘product’ pricing of day-to-day services path.

    I think the underlying point you have is that as a sole practitioner working in the digital realm and requiring both personal and professional digital services the costs mount and feel as if they’re coming in as one large collective sum but in fact mentally they should be thought of as two; work and pleasure :)

    4 points
  • Robert Farrelly, over 8 years ago (edited over 8 years ago )

    That escalated quickly

    I put up a post asking for nice advice for students and nothing… curse in a post and boom!

    4 points
  • Marcus SwanMarcus Swan, over 8 years ago (edited over 8 years ago )

    The whole “less than 4 cups of coffee a month!” sales line trumpeted by most subscription-based services is really misleading. Having read the excellent Transformative Month for Designers and doing a bit more investigating there seems to be a $15–20 average for some of these new tools/services, and many of them do only one thing (they do it well, but this is maybe beside the point).

    I think if you add it up there’s quite a lot of monthly outgoings for a very basic set-up, even without any “luxuries” like Netflix. Basic subscription “stack” for a freelance/self-employed designer working on web, app and identity work —

    • Creative Cloud: $50 p/m
    • Dropbox: $8.25 p/m
    • Google Apps (for email, calendar): $5 p/m
    • Freshbooks: $20 p/m
    • Flatsies (for basic UI/UX flows): $5 p/m

    That’s just shy of $90 a month; and without even going into once off payments for things like Sketch; or more specialised subscriptions like Flinto or Basecamp. Or even more basic things like studio rent, internet access, light and heat…

    As designers we all want to be up to date on the latest tools, systems and techniques, but there is a point where what can be charged to a client versus how much we can outlay on tools (including the time to learn new workflows) just becomes too much.

    4 points
  • Art VandelayArt Vandelay, over 8 years ago

    Yea this stuff sucks.

    Subscription models sucks based on one fact:

    They get paid even if you don't use it.

    I opt for yearly purchases for things instead of monthly since they are often upfront and cheaper. Also mostly tax deductible.

    One thing I do to shave off a few services every now and then is to get a new debit/credit card. While the account is the same the number changes so the monthly fees won't process. That's how I figure out what I can and cannot live with.

    4 points
    • Derryl CarterDerryl Carter, over 8 years ago

      Subscriptions are the only way that many businesses can stay afloat -- it costs money to develop and maintain a product, regardless of whether people use it or not.

      For smaller companies, especially, it's crucial to lock-in a certain amount of monthly/yearly revenue. They don't have the freedom (and economy of scale) to offer alternate payment structures.

      If you won't get your money's worth from the subscription -- then you shouldn't sign up for it! That's your choice to make.

      I agree with the OP's general sentiment: I wish I could sign up for more services than I feasibly have the $$ for... but that just means I need to prioritize which ones I actually need.

      For instance, I canceled my TypeKit subscription because nobody visits my site. I kept my Spotify subscription, because I use it all the time and hate advertisements. etc etc

      4 points
    • Dave CeddiaDave Ceddia, over 8 years ago

      That's not necessarily true for every merchant. I worked at a payment processor for a bit -- the card companies have a feature that can alert the payment processors when your CC number or expiration date changes, so they can continue charging for monthly or installment services.

      0 points
      • Art VandelayArt Vandelay, over 8 years ago

        That is scary as shit to me. I haven't run into that just yet and so far, not updating my payment information has been a good buffer but I'll keep my eye out.

        0 points
  • Trevor AllenTrevor Allen, over 8 years ago

    Sounds like you need to charge more. (But seriously, I can relate)

    3 points
  • Todd BenningsTodd Bennings, over 8 years ago

    I'd say many of us are fatigued by these models. I don't advocate one way or the other, but after Adobe, Dropbox, Harvest, Spotify, GoogleApps, Microsoft I am hesitant to add anything new to the fold.

    I want devs to make what they deserve and if I can't afford their product, then it's up to me to find a solution that works for my money.

    2 points
    • Robert Farrelly, over 8 years ago (edited over 8 years ago )

      I think when I wrote this there was a level of frustration. I love finding new applications and like everyone who is in our community I want to support good design and good development. I do want to pay for everything I use.

      I highlighted this point earlier and so have others — the recent change in Treehouse's policy to allow users to pause subscriptions shows a serious shift in their business model but it also shows that they really care about their customers. This system allows people to pay for learning when they feel it's right and even if it relieves a burden from a small few it's still great strategy for their brand.

      Another alternative would be a credit system similar to iStock. Which makes sense for getting people involved in your product. I'd love to hear some opinions from people who have gone through this decision making process.

      1 point
  • Marc KöhlbruggeMarc Köhlbrugge, over 8 years ago (edited over 8 years ago )

    I'm sure most businesses are open to you paying the full price up front. Full price being monthly price x average number of months per user. Just email them and propose it.

    That probably ends up being quite a lot though, hence them letting you pay in monthly installments. Yes, you pay this amount indefinitely if you choose to use the software indefinitely, but that's not a realistic scenario. Sometimes you use it less than the average user, sometimes more. On average it, averages out. :)

    With regards to you wanting to "own" the software and buy it once: don't forget you're also paying for continuous updates, bug fixes, support, etc, etc. Something we didn't get back in the day when we did buy our software for a one-time price. At least not to the same extend as we do nowadays.

    2 points
    • Robert Farrelly, over 8 years ago

      That's a really good point, maybe I'm used to paying for something and then paying for an update rather than have an outgoing monthly fee.

      0 points
  • Aaron GrandoAaron Grando, over 8 years ago

    I feel ya. There's a limit, for sure.

    Rdio, so I can listen to music affordably without stealing it. Netflix, so I don't feel so bad about canceling cable. Github, so I can build stuff and not worry. Amazon Prime yearly, so I can reliably order cheaper stuff on the internet. And on, and on.

    I think the real issue here is not so much for the users, who at some point will refuse to add another $9.99/mo charge to their credit card. It's for the small businesses who make these apps. There needs to be some innovation in making money for your product that's not subscriptions, VC cash, or display ads.

    2 points
    • Oskar LevinsonOskar Levinson, over 8 years ago

      There is also a fourth way to make money from your product. Charge for it once and up front. Then do paid upgrades every now and then (think of Sketch). Then the consumer can decide when they can afford to upgrade and it also puts pressure on the producer to keep enhancing the product to get everyone to want to upgrade.

      0 points
  • Coulter PattonCoulter Patton, over 8 years ago

    I'll leave out personal subscriptions, but when it comes to business subscriptions you need to know the ROI you're getting from that product or service. If I spend $100 a month on a tool that saves me even a couple hours of work and/or makes me more money, then that tool is an investment in my business. Every tool you subscribe to should have to prove a return for your business, if it doesn't then what's the point? Give yourself a subscription audit and really make those tools prove their worth to you.

    1 point
  • James Young, over 8 years ago (edited over 8 years ago )


    1 point
  • Jeff EverestJeff Everest, over 8 years ago

    I agree.

    1 point
  • Matt LindleyMatt Lindley, over 8 years ago

    Your logic is flawed. You need a budget. You need to separate your personal and business expenses. Personal budget is simple, set your monthly $ and decide what is most important. For business, build that into your price. There will always be business costs. If you cannot afford the cost of running your business based on what you can charge, you business not viable.

    1 point
    • Robert Farrelly, over 8 years ago

      Thanks for the business advice Matt.

      Just because I don't sign-up an app doesn't mean my business isn't viable.

      Also I have a budget — that's why I know exactly what my expenditures are.

      0 points
      • Matt LindleyMatt Lindley, over 8 years ago (edited over 8 years ago )

        If you have a budget then you know as well as we do that your post is just a sensationalist headline for your complaining that you think things are too expensive. Also, I did not say there was correlation between signup and your business model. I said that if you have essential expenses that you cannot afford based on your income, then it is not viable.

        I would also like to add that I do see your point here, but I think it is not conveyed as well as it could be. I think the real issue is that a lot of services focus on doing niche things well so you end up paying for a lot of services.

        1 point
        • Robert Farrelly, over 8 years ago

          Your reply is no better than my headline.

          And yes It was sensational but it stirred up a great discussion and highlighted some interesting points of view from both sides of the argument.

          If you had read some of the comments I had already apologised for my headline and clarified my point of view — it's rare that a posts get so much attention and I wish it was something that was a little more considered. However I still think there is a limit on how many services you can sign-up for and companies should not price / value themselves out of the market.

          0 points
          • Matt LindleyMatt Lindley, over 8 years ago

            Sorry, I didn't mean to keep on about your headline, I certainly see the value in sensationalism. I did read most of your replies, but I do feel there is still a bit left up for discussion.

            I think this type of pricing is important because it allows you to selectively choose and change the services you use to get the most from them. If you had to pay for them at a higher cost upfront, you would be stuck because you already used that portion of your budget. It also fosters competition, because price is often an easy opening for newer products to prove themselves and if you can stop paying for one and easily switch, you don't have to hesitate to try something new.

            1 point
  • Braden HammBraden Hamm, over 8 years ago

    I've had similar feelings and having recently got a new debit card, it's been a frustrating process updating everything, or wondering if I'm missing something crucial.

    What it comes down to for me is what brings the most value. Since I don't have cable, so Netflix is a must for me, but I'd cancel Spotify in a second if I had to. It all depends on the consumers needs.

    Also, the concept of owning something like dropbox by paying a one time fee doesn't make a lot of sense because it is a cloud service with monthly costs on their end, unlike Sketch which you use on your desktop. I would imagine they would need to make it pretty pricey up front to make sure they can make money on that sale.

    1 point
    • Bryce DriesengaBryce Driesenga, over 8 years ago

      The updating everything is certainly an annoyance. I suppose if most places were to accept Google Wallet or something, you could simply use that and update your card just at Wallet.

      1 point
  • Paul MistPaul Mist, over 8 years ago

    I spent some time discussing subscriptions over one-off payments with the guys who created Mixture.io. In the end they went with a single price for the app inc major updates and a supplementary subscription fee for the online portion of their offering. I was able to choose only what I really needed out of the equation. Seems like a decent middle ground.

    1 point
  • Charlie McCullochCharlie McCulloch, over 8 years ago

    I don't see how that means the business model is fucked. That's like saying the yacht business is fucked just because you can't afford to buy 20 super-yachts every year.

    1 point
    • Robert Farrelly, over 8 years ago

      My point is you're not buying anything… your just renting and always will be. You are not given the choice to buy.

      0 points
      • Sean WashingtonSean Washington, over 8 years ago (edited over 8 years ago )

        And that's totally fine, because by choosing to pay them you're opting into that model. They're a business and they can sell a product for a profit however they choose to.

        I think what's important here is to know that you don't need or are not entitled to any service out there that says it might make your life easier. Are you a designer? Get what you need to make a living and leave it at that. Save your money, adjust your budgets and then move from there.

        0 points
        • Robert Farrelly, over 8 years ago

          I don't feel like I'm entitled to anything. I do save my money, I don't just sign-up for any subscription. I consider my purchases like all people should.

          My point is that some models work for some services and don't work for others. I feel there are some companies that are not considering all their options when structuring a pricing system. If you ask me to pay €20p/m at the basic cost I feel like I'd have to use it a lot and that price point might end up pushing me away. However if you signed-up me up at €5 you might have just got me to sign-up and kept me for 4 times as long.

          It think it's all relative to the individual but as I said I think I've a pretty large subscription base that has reached its limit.

          1 point
  • Pedro Pimenta, over 8 years ago

    "The buying model is fucked because I can't afford everything I want"

    1 point
  • Aryon HopkinsAryon Hopkins, over 8 years ago

    I agree.

    I've started to ask app creators for their help as their solutions often fulfill a specific task but need to be combined with other products.

    I'm currently paying for LessAccounting, BaseCamp, Harvest, Google Apps and Treehouse. I find so many elements of my workflow being split up and priced out. I've free trialed a different time tracking app almost every month for the last year and still haven't found something I like enough to leave Harvest.

    To clarify: I am trying to improve my workflow as a freelancer. So many of these new project management apps I find really useful but they don't integrate with any of the existing products that I use or are missing important functionality that prevents me from switching.

    START UPS: Bundle more please. Improve on existing products through collaborative integration. Stop launching.

    1 point
  • Chris Aalid, over 8 years ago

    I try not to think about it too much, but I'm definitely getting nickeled and dimed by apps and services.

    It seems to be the new model though, so it's probably here to stay.

    1 point
  • Troy Kennedy, over 8 years ago

    I think this argument comes down to classic goods vs. services.

    I believe we pay subscriptions to a lot of things as we can never really own them as they are services as opposed to goods.

    With the above Bentley argument, we can all understand a car is a good you can own so paying once to own it is reasonable, but you'll still be paying monthly forever for insurance which is a service.

    All the products you've mentioned are web services that have to be maintained by a team and has to have an infrastructure to deliver that maintenance all of which needs to be continually supported.

    Does this account for why everything is sub-based nowadays when the model was used much less for the same services before (eg. Adobe Creative Suite)? No. Apart from they probably included the cost of support into the purchase price back then but have realised that's not the most sensible model today.

    0 points
    • Robert Farrelly, over 8 years ago

      You're correct in terms of what purchasing model suits what industry but I think what has to be considered with a lot of subscriptions is that its one price for every consumer.

      Often companies will try manage this by using a tiered pricing structure to accommodate for different users. My point is that often the commitment level of a subscription is too high for many. I know "Boo Hoo for Them!", "Earn More!" etc., But if you also look at from the companies perspective they could be excluding a large revenue stream and losing out on a lot of business. They are leaving a lot of money on the table.

      Yes, the subscription bases is great for businesses, it offers a repeat income which is ultimately the goal for any company. But even insurance companies offer a questionnaire to help get you the price that suits your needs.

      0 points
  • Paul GasparPaul Gaspar, over 8 years ago

    So you already spend 200 € p/m for your work tools.

    And you like to use 3 or 4 additional tools, but you don't like to spend another 50 € p/m.

    This is a quite simple mercantile decision: If you spend this 50 €, will it increase your income at least by 50 € (in the medium term)? If not, don't use that tools.

    50 € is around one hour of work p/m that you could charge from your clients. Do the tools increase your productivity, do they encourage your creativity or rise the quality of your work? You can't view expenses separated from the impact on your business.

    But the main item: Start thinking like an entrepreneur. Your business might be small, but it is a business.

    Don't mix private and business expenses (Spotify?). Clarify your costs (can you look up your total monthly subscription expenses in a spreadsheet?). With getting those stuff clear, your mind will be freed.

    0 points
  • Ali StoneAli Stone, over 8 years ago

    Too many product CEOs watching Dallas Buyers Club!

    0 points
  • Javan GriffithsJavan Griffiths, over 8 years ago

    I agree, i feel like this all the time. I especially wish services like Treehouse and other online training services offered one off costs for individual courses or tracks. I think it feels like you are paying for a whole lot of stuff that you probably won't learn if you are just after a good set of lessons on a particular topic.

    0 points
  • Fabian SocarrasFabian Socarras, over 8 years ago

    I feel your pain Robert. It's not that the model is broken, but rather that the model is breaking me. Like you said, I want to give them my money, because they are that good; and in some cases, necessary. I work it into my pricing, and allow certain subs to expire for a time. For example, I don't need Team Tree House month-to-month.

    It would be cool if some of these service providers got together every once and a while, and created a bundled discount package that ran monthly or annually. Sort of like how Mac Heist does for apps. Just a thought...

    0 points
  • Greg BowenGreg Bowen, over 8 years ago

    I only have a couple monthlies - Freshbooks - which more than pays for itself - and Netflix - Which is worth it to be ad free alone.

    Amazon is a yearly subscription - and allows me to rent many first run movies all year form the comfort of my home. I like that. - Again - anything to be ad free.

    If you added up all of your services, what would your yearly outlay be? Does it seem like a better value from that perspective?

    0 points
  • Dean HaydenDean Hayden, over 8 years ago (edited over 8 years ago )

    Be it subscription or paid in full you need to pass on (some) costs to clients, a big one is font licensing. Having been in situations where I've needed to upgrade (or buy new) software yet not been paid for 60 days by clients (cash flow can be unpredictable) I welcome the subscription model. I'd happily rent QuarkXpress for a month so that I could get a job done than pay for it outright.

    0 points
  • Nathan HueningNathan Huening, over 8 years ago

    For consumers, sure, but that's always been a tough sell (but you're right it seems like there's a new one every day). For businesses, though, it's a different story: tools like Basecamp, Typekit, Slack, etc. all bring back way more $$ in productivity and efficiency than they cost. So if you're interested in a subscription model, look there first: consumer is cutthroat with razor-thin margins.

    I'd edit your headline, "The (Consumer) Subscription Model is Fucked"

    0 points
    • Robert Farrelly, over 8 years ago

      It's a great model for businesses but I would love to see more businesses change their policy to allow for account pausing.

      And trust me I would have edited my title a long time ago if I knew this was going to generate so much interest. The first time I put-up a throw away comment out of frustration and it makes it to the front-page.

      0 points
      • Nathan HueningNathan Huening, over 8 years ago

        Haha don't you know those are always the ones that blow up?

        Agreed on the pause: in fact, that's something that Carsonified / Treehouse just initiated. Less revenue from them but consumer friendly. Rare move!

        0 points
  • Philip AmourPhilip Amour, over 8 years ago

    Welcome to the economy. Queue is right over there.

    0 points
  • Todd SielingTodd Sieling, over 8 years ago

    Do you have a list of all the subscriptions you currently have going? Maybe there's one or two you can drop, but more importantly, knowing might make you feel less fatigued about it all.

    That aside... the subscription model is not fucked. A whole way of doing business is not fucked because you're feeling some friction with it.

    0 points
    • Robert Farrelly, over 8 years ago (edited over 8 years ago )

      I posted a list above, I tried to include everything I could think of.

      I don't mind paying for stuff I just think there will be a point in the near future that people will feel that they have exhausted their monthly spend and businesses will struggle with this model.

      I would much prefer to pay for a once off fee and then pay for an updated version if possible. Maybe to you it isn't fucked but you might change your opinion in the near future. Once you reach your saturation point :)

      0 points
      • Todd SielingTodd Sieling, over 8 years ago

        I might get to a saturation point, but there's a difference between me reaching a limit and a whole billing model being invalid.

        0 points
        • Robert Farrelly, over 8 years ago (edited over 8 years ago )

          True. As I said up a above, I think my post was a little rushed. I'm used to only getting 2 comments on these things :)

          I do think there is more options out there than just launching a new app on subscription though.

          0 points
          • Todd SielingTodd Sieling, over 8 years ago

            There are definitely different options, and different considerations. For products that have an ongoing cost to keep delivering to you, like Netflix, subscription makes a lot of sense: they have to do ongoing work for you to get ongoing value.

            1 point
  • Andy LeverenzAndy Leverenz, over 8 years ago

    Yep, you find ways to work around it some legal, some illegal, but I too think the software subscription paradigm has gone too far. In no way should your monthly "software" costs be the equivalent to a mortgage and that be acceptable. Something needs to change.

    0 points
  • Jeff MartinJeff Martin, over 8 years ago (edited over 8 years ago )

    I feel the same way. I'm paying for something like 3 apps now at $10 a month each.

    I've been thinking and hoping that startups would offer a "bundle" of their services for one subsidized fee.

    Eg. Dropbox, Pocket, and Instapaper offer a "bundle" for 15$ a month ($5 cheaper) and the user gets all three services, and the companies split the bill. I know its a loss for them, but this also means some companies get user subscriptions who wouldn't have normally subscribed.

    Would be interesting and might even spur interest for people on the edge to pay, but yeah its probably complicated to handle if they're not all under one umbrella company.

    0 points
    • Robert Farrelly, over 8 years ago

      Didn't see that Dropbox bundle before, this is exactly what I think needs to happen. Innovation in pricey structures.

      I just think the model is a little tired for me at least. If you only have one or two subscriptions but when you have 10 you start to think if signing up to anything else is worth it.


      1 point