TextExpander has gone to a subscription model, and, as almost always, Michael Tsai gives you the best rundown of what's been going on. Here are two of the quotes he shares:

TJ Luoma (via John Gruber, comments):

But is this just another case of “Users are cheap and don’t value developers’ time?” I don’t think so. […] There’s the rub for Smile and TextExpander: I don’t see anything that I really need in TextExpander version 6. I’m not using it with a “team” and my family members probably have no interest in sharing a group of text snippets with me. Yes, I realize that Smile made their own syncing service, but I have used iCloud, Dropbox, and BitTorrent Sync, and they work fine for TextExpander. Creating their own syncing service was solving a problem that I didn’t have.

Joe Cieplinski:

And that’s what makes TextExpander an interesting case. Is it “pro” software? Or is it more like a consumer product? I tend to think of it as somewhere in between.


Because I actually use TextExpander, I find myself in a position of having to evaluate this decision to go subscription-only from two different perspectives: that of a fellow developer, and that of an actual customer of the product.

But if you're having a hard time following, I can sum it up even more quickly:

Smile is charging the consumer market too much for their subscription to TextExpander.

Charge consumers $2 a month, $20 for a year for recurring subscriptions, and you'll see folks signing up and paying with as much laissez-faire as they do their overpriced phone bills. Problems solved.

These micro-subscriptions are just smart. Now you've got a workaround for trials, as someone can now experience all of your service for $2. And you've got a workaround for updates, since you're charging everyone for the upgrade every month.

But the conversation about subscriptions in general is interesting. And powerful. I caught a little of the Back to Work podcast on the topic, and the TextExpander stuff starts at 45:25 (btw, why, oh why are so many techesque podcasts so danged long? Sheesh. Shout out to Manton's Timetable.)

A while into their discussion, after all the description of what TextExpander does, is this:

What is happening with the world of subscriptions today?
Whenever it seems like you're moving away from a model that's easy to understand and what you're used to, and when it involves asking for more money, that's naturally going to cause friction... Smile must have their reasons for doing this.
These features are not things that will benefit me much. [emph mine]

So there's my point... if it costs more to cover features folks don't use, well, people will leave. I think most people quickly realize this subscription isn't just more cash than they were paying before, but a lot more cash. As Tsai points out:

TextExpander 4 was $35 in 2012, and there was a $20 update for TextExpander 5 in May of 2015, about three years later. Now, after less than a year, the price for a yearly subscription is $47.52. (There is a one-time, one-year 50% discount for previous customers.) So the price for three years has gone from $20 to $142.56.

More interesting is this:

[Higher Pitched Voice Dude:] Like right now, I'm paying for Hulu, HBO... as far as subscription stuff... Netflix, Hulu, HBO; I pay for those over-the-top. I have Amazon Prime, which means I get Amazon Prime stuff... And then on top of it, now, I've got this PlayStation Vue service...
[Lower Pitched Voice Dude:] There are all of these services that we pay for that we use a little bit that we don't use a lot. [He then talks about not owning what you "subscribe" to, and how it goes away when you stop.]

So for HPVD, that's $8-$12 for Hulu, $15 for HBO, $8-$12 for Netflix, so $31-$39 a month. Sheesh, Higher Pitched Voice Dude. That's a lot. LPVD is right on the money -- That's a lot to pay for something you use "a bit". Do we really think we couldn't lose $1-2 a month for TextExpander in that bucket of monthly payments somewhere?

Quick point: Katie Floyd does not frame this correctly:

Katie Floyd:

There’s also another important benefit to the new model, Smile has a steady revenue stream with which to continue development of their products. If you take a look at the company’s “About Us” page, you’ll see more than a dozen smiling faces of real people who work at Smile and depend on the revenue their apps and services generate. [emph mine]

ARGH. Comma splice. Hate it. ;^) /rant

Actual point: Business is not welfare. You have to earn the money. They're asking for too much money.

If they were 12 bums and they refused handouts of less than $5? Might work. But it's chancy.

Prediction: Smile drops the price for consumer use.

Edit 12 April: As an old, fat, bald, orange man would say, I believe I had that.

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