Another app (Ulysses) moves to a subscription based model

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scshrugged
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Thu Aug 10, 2017 4:52 pm Post

Considering the numbers of users of specialized software, is this inevitable for that market segment? Ulysses has switched to a subscription model: https://ulyssesapp.com/blog/2017/08/uly ... scription/

Currently that link is being hammered(?). Here's Max Seelemann's explanation: https://medium.com/building-ulysses/why ... f80b07a9cd
Last edited by scshrugged on Thu Aug 10, 2017 5:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Dr
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Thu Aug 10, 2017 5:06 pm Post

After Scrivener for iOS turned out to be so good for writing away from my main machine I've used U3 less and less - it's just not up to extended non-fiction writing (Scrivener OSX is much more fully featured with *useful* features e.g. internal links and Collections which I find indispensable).

So this move from them means a move away from me. I'll keep it's present incarnation on the machines for short-form, but I'm not joining the club.

Helps me with my plan to cut down on `software by other folk' anyway: my daily regulars are now down to Scrivener, Tinderbox and DTPro which all speak very nicely to each other.
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Thu Aug 10, 2017 5:17 pm Post

That was an interesting analysis of their business model and the problems with it that made them decide to move forward with subscriptions. I'm not sure it's 100% correct, but it was certainly thorough and offered a lot of food for thought -- and it's easy to be an armchair quarterback when it's not my time and effort and living on the line.
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Thu Aug 10, 2017 5:29 pm Post

devinganger wrote:That was an interesting analysis of their business model and the problems with it that made them decide to move forward with subscriptions. I'm not sure it's 100% correct, but it was certainly thorough and offered a lot of food for thought -- and it's easy to be an armchair quarterback when it's not my time and effort and living on the line.

Oh I agree - I don't think that the `subscription = simple greed' assumption always holds up and so - for example - I'm quite happy to pay what amounts to an annual sub for Tinderbox every year because it is unique and I simply couldn't work as effectively without it (though if I didn't renew, unlike the new U3 model Tinderbox remains fully functional). But in this case the introduction of the new cost is a tipping point, and I suspect it will be for quite a few others. Unfortunate timing too perhaps with Scrivener 3 approaching ...

EDIT: Actually scratch that: my nostalgia got the better of me. I've been using Ulysses one way or another for a long time, since the earliest version, and a couple of quid a month (with the current users lifetime discount) suddenly doesn't seem too steep to to avoid another divorce ...
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Thu Aug 10, 2017 8:11 pm Post

The problem is that all these subscriptions add up. Individually, they may each cost peanuts, but collectively they can make an insidious but substantial dent in the household budget, especially if you include in the total things like TV/film streaming, Amazon Prime, music streaming, language-learning sites, grocery delivery scheme memberships, reading material, news providers, charity subscriptions, club/society/organisation memberships, data storage/backup, file sharing...

I don't like subscription software, because of all the software that I own, I use very little of it often enough to merit any continued expense; few and far between are the applications that I use daily or even weekly.
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Thu Aug 10, 2017 9:29 pm Post

It's sort of like the difference between buying and leasing a car. A lease is a lower monthly payment, but you don't have any equity and so the payments never go away. It only makes sense if you plan on replacing the car whenever the lease term expires.

Similarly, I found myself reluctantly upgrading my six-year old copy of Microsoft Office recently. I looked at their subscription pricing, and decided it was a fine deal for a business that wants to install each new version as it comes out. But the crossover point was about three years and, as I said, I'd been using my current copy for six.

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Fri Aug 11, 2017 6:29 am Post

kewms wrote:It's sort of like the difference between buying and leasing a car. A lease is a lower monthly payment, but you don't have any equity and so the payments never go away. It only makes sense if you plan on replacing the car whenever the lease term expire


Whenever I start thinking, "Hey, look into a car lease," I am reminded of the fine print on the lease agreement that those low payments are only available for those who can put $X down. And not all lease agreements are created equal. If it includes free or subsidized maintenance, that might actually work depending on your situation. Insurance costs at always having to carry full comp+collision for a newer care factor in, too...

...so far, never leased. Have had several used cars I bought outright, and two used that we paid off and drove/are driving until they die.

kewms wrote:Similarly, I found myself reluctantly upgrading my six-year old copy of Microsoft Office recently. I looked at their subscription pricing, and decided it was a fine deal for a business that wants to install each new version as it comes out. But the crossover point was about three years and, as I said, I'd been using my current copy for six.


The Office 365 for Home $99/year is a no-brainer for my household. I am an IT specialist in a Microsoft product and I have to have the latest and greatest version of Outlook, so just for that purpose, it would be a winner. However, my family is Windows-centric, so the ability to install on up to 5 PCs/Macs (not counting mobile devices, we get up to another 5 there) makes it pretty cost-effective. Add to that the Microsoft account family groupings, and I can send invites to my wife and kids for them to install one of those 5 copies using their Windows Live account. At that point, each account gets the 1TB boost for OneDrive that goes with the Office subscription -- not just me.

For us, it makes sense. I get that it doesn't make sense for a lot of people, though. It's nice to have lease and purchase options. :)
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Fri Aug 11, 2017 8:23 am Post

I'm more of a want-to-be writer than an actual writer, forgive my rant. To set context, I'm a long retired aerospace engineer with degree in Math and a wish that in my life I had written something besides technical papers and proposals.

I like Scrivener a lot, and started a bunch of family memoirs with Scrivener. But as my 'work' (except for an app I'm writing) went more and more to iPad, and the Scrivener for iPad remained in the future, I bought Ulysses for both Mac and iOS. I moved things I had hanging around (including documentation for my app) into Ulysses.

I am sorry now!

While $30 a year (with discount) isn't a killer, the need for a subscription poisons it for me. (I don't lease cars, either.)

As someone else noted, it's not just the one app. Recently my main credit card was counterfeited by someone. While I didn't have to pay for their purchases, I did have to remember to change my card in a number of places. I forgot about my Kona Coffee subscription, and had to drink grocery store coffee for a week.

I can't get over the thought that this move by Ulysses is bait and switch. Surely a sound business plan a few years ago would have revealed the lack of steady income, and suggested the "need" for a subscription model, or some other route forward.

When the journaling app I had been using for several years went subscription I abandoned it and started keeping a journal in a Leuchtturm1917 book with a fountain pen.

I will abandon Ulysses, move what I've added to my drafts recently back to Scrivener. I bought the iOS version of Scrivener and am looking forward to using it.

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Fri Aug 11, 2017 2:18 pm Post

Whatever one thinks about subscriptions, I think it can be agreed that Ulysses' early transition process provided a learning opportunity for anyone considering (or not) the same.

For those that missed it, today, Scrivener's KB gave his thoughts about subscriptions:
viewtopic.php?f=4&t=38938#p236453
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Fri Aug 11, 2017 6:18 pm Post

I pay for version upgrades for software that I use, but I dislike paying for subscriptions. I'm really glad to see that Scrivener's developer has no plans to move in that direction for version 3. I would have bought a Ulysses 4 as a one-time purchase even though the main draw (for me) was always aesthetics and not functionality. I like to support software developers and help sustain businesses, including Ulysses, but I'm not comfortable using a tool that will disable itself when I stop paying a monthly or yearly fee.

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Fri Aug 11, 2017 6:51 pm Post

matt99 wrote:I pay for version upgrades for software that I use, but I dislike paying for subscriptions. I'm really glad to see that Scrivener's developer has no plans to move in that direction for version 3. I would have bought a Ulysses 4 as a one-time purchase even though the main draw (for me) was always aesthetics and not functionality. I like to support software developers and help sustain businesses, including Ulysses, but I'm not comfortable using a tool that will disable itself when I stop paying a monthly or yearly fee.

I haven't used Ulysses for other reasons so I don't have bias for or against them because of this move, but in fairness, it's important to note that at the end of the term the app isn't disabled. According to their FAQs, it becomes read only; a user's work can still be accessed and exported.
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Fri Aug 11, 2017 9:18 pm Post

scshrugged wrote:Whatever one thinks about subscriptions, I think it can be agreed that Ulysses' early transition process provided a learning opportunity for anyone considering (or not) the same.

This is a true statement.

I read the Ulysses guy's blog, where he provided an extended rationale for why they are making the change, and where he offered a reasonable (IMHO) free use period of up to 18 months for existing users.

Then I saw a news item related to the transition on a Mac site, and the comments to that article seemed to be running about 200 to 2, with the 200 essentially saying:

"F##k you! We're not paying $4.99/month for a f##king text editor!" *

The 2 dissenting opinions were, 1) the poor tech journalist who wrote the piece, who was getting hammered as a fanboy because he defended the transition, and 2) someone pointing out that the market will decide.

Well, the market is definitely deciding!


* If the day ever comes when L&L decide to move to subscription pricing, they won't have to worry about any of us saying this, because Scrivener creates RTF, not text. :twisted:

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Sat Aug 12, 2017 4:01 pm Post

JimRac wrote:
scshrugged wrote:Whatever one thinks about subscriptions, I think it can be agreed that Ulysses' early transition process provided a learning opportunity for anyone considering (or not) the same.

This is a true statement.

I read the Ulysses guy's blog, where he provided an extended rationale for why they are making the change, and where he offered a reasonable (IMHO) free use period of up to 18 months for existing users.

Then I saw a news item related to the transition on a Mac site, and the comments to that article seemed to be running about 200 to 2, with the 200 essentially saying:

"F##k you! We're not paying $4.99/month for a f##king text editor!" *

The 2 dissenting opinions were, 1) the poor tech journalist who wrote the piece, who was getting hammered as a fanboy because he defended the transition, and 2) someone pointing out that the market will decide.

Well, the market is definitely deciding!



The emotional tides, whether affectations or not, eventually subside. But each occurrence seems to cause further erosion to civilization's beach. It brings to mind Gustave Le Bon's The Crowd: A study of the Popular Mind. I wonder what his revision would look like if he could include the WWW's existence?

If one disagrees with a developer's revised pricing structure, then one should move on. It might be worthwhile to politely, rationally express that disagreement to try to persuade the developer to change, or expand the options to, the new structure. Berating a developer using non-sequiturs? Not likely to achieve a thing, other than to increase the divide and suspicions that exist between owner/creators and user/customers, and with other social relationships. I'd be suspicious of any developer that reversed their switch because of the eruption of irrational, unjustified claims made against them -- if they tacitly accepted the claims by not explicitly refuting them.

I'm not a developer. I'll likely never know any particular app's complete financials. It's in my best interest that quality apps succeed -- better still, wildly succeed. I hope they rake in the dough. They should make as much as they can; whatever the market will bear. Whether they make *n* monies or *n+1000* monies, they'll always be a crowd to bash them for their "greed". Even if the app fails, they'll be bashed with the same or similar reason. A developer/creator can expect "heads you lose, tails you lose" from a great many. Developers should ignore them, create and determine where your property fits in the marketplace (if and as long as such a thing exists).

Currently, I don't have any subscription apps. That's just the way it's worked out so I haven't paid much attention to the trend. When the time comes that I'm faced with such a decision, it'll be decided by using a cost/benefit analyses. I won't be irrationally bashing anyone's business decision -- it's their business, their risk, their property, their creation. Who's "greedy"? Is it the person(s) who's created something at their own risk that potentially can make someone's life better/easier or is it the person(s) who wants to mob control something which they didn't create and whose only minor risk is a voluntary, short-term exchange?

I'm not accusing anyone here of anything tawdry. I'm not looking for a fight. My post was prompted by the reactions I've seen at many sites. I know they don't represent everyone's point of view but the clamor gave me a brain-ache. I think I'll go enjoy a cocktail.
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Sun Aug 13, 2017 9:46 am Post

Dr Dog wrote:(Scrivener OSX is much more fully featured with *useful* features e.g. internal links and Collections which I find indispensable).


Sorry to go off-topic, but Scrivener iOS has internal links, no? I used them a couple of times, very handy.

To add my voice to the discussion: I hate subscriptions too. I don't want to rent my tools, and I don't like the idea of renting everything. There is a lot of stuff I want to own, and software is one of them. I don't mind paying. I like Scrivener, it's more then worth it's price. I bought the iOS version on day one and have been very pleased. I have Scrivener 2, but I will pay full price again to have the Scrivener 3 Mac App Store version.
Anyhow. I am also very happy Scrivener doesn't seem to have plans to go the way of subscriptions. Subscriptions put all the power in the developer hands, and not in the customers hands. You feel like you are being held ransom.

And I have a Netflix subscription, but I still buy Blu-Rays and DVD's every month, and still expanding my own collection.
It's like with the Simpsons: I bought the dvd boxes years ago. I bought them once, and watched them soo much, whenever I want to. They are beautiful boxes. After season 20, Fox went subscription. They didn't release the Simpsons on DVD anymore, and you have to pay 5 dollars a month to see The Simpsons AND it's not even available outside the U.S., so I would have to go trough an VPN illegaly to pay for Simpsons, to watch it. I refuse to play that game.
Every one of my (approximately) 1300 movies, I just put in when I want it. With Netflix one day a movie is in there, another day it's out. This is a nice article about it:
https://www.vox.com/culture/2016/12/27/ ... ay-netflix

I know this is personal too. Not everyone wants to own movies. I like Netflix, but not as the only option (which luckily still isn't the case as of yet). And as a movie lover in Belgium, I see DVD distributors going bankrupt, and in the Blu-Ray Age I have to more and more buy nice editions in other countries because they don't even get released anymore, or in very mediocre releases. I know I'm in the minority, but I'm proud to have a collection of movies and invite people to come and do a movie night. Let alone if we look at how few classic movies Netflix has in the grand scheme of things.
With software it's even worse, because these are the tools to make money. Could you imagine asking a carpenter to *rent* his tools?

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Wed Aug 16, 2017 4:56 pm Post

I think there's a pretty big difference between a software subscription and a Netflix subscription. With Netflix, you get a major convenience (no more discs, and you can watch from almost anywhere) and a huge content library you're unlikely to ever exhaust. With a Ulysses subscription, you get ... to use Ulysses.

I bought Ulysses in 2014. Ulysses today is exactly as useful to me as it was three years ago. The only thing I expect or need from the app, since they seem unwilling to add CriticMarkup, is the occasional compatibility patch or bugfix, and neither of those are worth 2/3 the original price of the app.