You know what I hate? Subscriptions. Whether it’s newspaper, magazine, cable TV (yes, you pay by the month, so that’s a subscription, too) or applications for my Mac, iPhone, and iPad, my expenses have gone up with an ever increasing list of monthly or annual payment subscriptions.
After digging around the interwebs to see what other subscription models are out there for Apple’s notoriously well heeled customers I found two subscription models that may have helped to save their respective companies. If anything, both Microsoft and Adobe are prospering in the subscription era.
Think of it this way. For a few decades we Mac users would buy upgrades to Adobe’s famous apps; Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere, After Effects, Flash, InDesign or whatever else captured our creative fancy. Then, Adobe started bundling their applications into an attractive package. For hundreds of dollars more in the price tag, we Mac and Windows users could get more applications.
Every year or so Adobe would update their apps with more features and bug fixes, and every year or so we sheeple would buy the upgrade. When that became an expensive proposition we would wait an update or two and then do the upgrade. They say time is money, but when it came to Adobe’s suite of applications, waiting between updates saved money.
Adobe figured out that many of us would not update our apps every year or two, so they killed that option and created the Creative Cloud suite of apps. Pay a subscription price by the month or year, and get all the updates for free. So, instead of paying $400 or more to upgrade Adobe apps every two or three years, customers are now required to pay $600 each year– $50 or so each month– forever to get the latest and greatest.
Stop paying the subscription and the applications no longer work on your device.
Microsoft had a similar issue with Office but with even more customers than Adobe, has yet to bite the bullet and go all in on the subscription model. Office– Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, et al– worked and still works much the same way. Pay a price, use the apps for a few years, then upgrade to the newer versions. Microsoft saw the handwriting on Adobe’s wall and adopted a similar monthly or annual subscription price– somewhere around $10 a month or $100 a year– and you get all the basic Office apps plus online storage to sweeten the pot.
Both Microsoft and Adobe have prospered since they adopted their respective subscription models. Even the iOS and Mac App Stores have gone subscription in a big way. I counted eight subscription apps that charge me monthly or annually– automatically in my iTunes account, Apple Music and iCloud included. I added them up and realized those apps alone are more than I used to spend on a couple of dozen apps and upgrades just a few years ago.
Microsoft and Adobe may prosper with subscriptions, but so does Apple, and now many apps developers have similar payment models. Buy by the month or year, but add up the dollars and you’re paying more for fewer applications.