Subscription Psycho : Analysis Of The Subscription Economy & Its Bad Actors
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The Fairest Subscription of Them All

Subscription is a misnomer as the software you reference are more accurately rental software.

When you subscribe to a (paper) magazine, you get all new magazine issues for X number of months. When your subscription ends, those magazines do not disappear. You get to keep using them and reading them if you want.

Many software products that use the term ‘subscription’ stop working if you stop paying. You do not get to keep using the last version for which you paid — just like you rent a car or a costume.

I have direct experience is software licensing and have consulted many companies on their licensing models over the last 20+ years, as well as helped them establish (or improve) international tech partnerships and distribution.

One company I co-own with my brilliant partner Ruslan Zasukhin, Paradigma Software uses the fairest subscription model, in which you get the current version, plus you get all updates for the next 12 months. At the end of the 12 months, you get a discount on continuing receiving another 12 months of updates. But if you do not, you can continue to use the last updated version for as long as you like. We have excellent response rates for three reasons:

  • We have a free, entry level product that is actually useful in Valentina Studio
  • Academics and most non-profits can use our evaluation server for as long as they like
  • We provide updates on a monthly basis that includes fixes, improvements and new features

Fair subscriptions work quite well as long as you continue to provide continuous value to your customers that matter. Many companies with very mature markets will often add inconsequential features or, the will reshuffle feature sets now and then and actually remove features.

I encourage all of my clients to use a fair subscription model.

The only legitimate reason for using a rental method is to be able to legally ‘deactivate’ pirated product. Almost all reasons I have read for it provide no value to the customer but simply increase the revenue to the vendor.

The companies that have been the most successful in converting to the rental model are those for which there are few industry alternatives (and digital-to-digital, digital-to-print is VAST), and they can coerce using fair seeming methods like a low monthly cost.

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