Subscription or no subscription? That is not the question - Founder of iA Writer

When you say “magazines”, are you talking about physical paper media? I’ve never seen that, honestly.

I would, of course, suggest that just because a number of companies insist on doing it, that doesn’t alter whether or not it’s a ridiculous practice or not. :slight_smile:

I still use my task manager to track the cancellations. But the world would likely be at least a slightly better place if that weren’t necessary.

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Another thing that is different now is that most people want all this connectivity between mobile and desktop. This did not exist years ago and this infrastructure is costly to provide.

I think some apps already section this off if you want cloud syncing services you should taxed a higher fee.

Apple should allow the vendors to collect update costs especially when they cause the reason the app needs to be updated as a change in underlying OS and Cloud infrastructure. They in effect passing all this cost on to their developers while keeping 30%. Apple praises their Software Devs at WWDC then in the back room just have them bend over and $%&^

It’s not a direct quote, it’s a pretty close paraphrase of language I’ve seen at least a few times. I honestly can’t remember the last time, because I’ve mostly (considerations given above aside) tried to steer myself away from subscriptions in favor of owned content, perpetual licenses, etc.

You’re confused, misremembering Apple’s policy of immediately canceling free trials. It’s not the same as for prepaid subscriptions, period. If people don’t want to set a calendar reminder so be it. And complaining about that is unnecessary, captious caviling IMO.

Nope. I wouldn’t be complaining about losing access to something I didn’t pay for in the first place.

And FWIW, with Apple I can cancel my paid subscriptions whenever I feel like it, and keep access through the end of the subscription period. Which is exactly the behavior I feel is appropriate. :slight_smile:

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Then you shouldn’t be quoting something you can’t really remember as if you were. Again, I call bovine scatology on any stealing of prepaid subscriptions as you describe and can’t support.

I’m not using quotes to indicate that the text is a verbatim quote from somebody else - I’m using quotes to ensure that my summary of the policy is differentiated from the rest of my text.

I’ll double back and adjust the wording.

Great. Quotation marks impute… quotes. :wink: Anyway if you can find any evidence to support the claim that you definitely remember some time, somehow losing access to some service you had paid for before the subscription ended (“I wouldn’t be complaining about losing access to something I didn’t pay for in the first place.”) I’m sure I wouldn’t be the only one interested.

I have cancelled subscriptions with Apple before. If you look in the manage subscriptions area under each app will be a line that says either:

“Next billing date: MMM, DD, YYYY”


“Expires MMM, DD, YYYY”

Tracking is easy enough. First I was easy a dedicated app named “Bobby” then a subscription web app…then I thought that was ludicrous a subscription to track subscriptions. So I just created a database in Notion.

This is also good to do with the various URL registrations and websites.

Interesting, Most jobs are not consistent in payment. In some industries you never even get to choose what price you sell at, it’s always lowest common denominator. For over 20 years now I have absolutely no information onw hat, if anything, I will get paid for my work. In some case I have all the expenses incuding planing 1-2 years in advance to produce a perishable product that I have no guarantee of ever selling. Anyone want 200 pounds of rolled mutton breast?


Software developers are still able to offer perpetual licenses if they choose. They are increasingly choosing not to. Subscription app licensing is a consequence of the free rider problem in economics that is manifested in markets for intangible goods.

One could argue that bugs should be fixed for free but bugs are sometimes introduced by OS and API library vendors with new versions, not by the developers of end user apps.

Those third party vendors need to be compensated too. Why should only the developers of end user apps bear the cost of bug fixes, then?

And you want old apps to get new features to take advantage of new capabilities in new OS versions? And that’s assuming previous APIs used in existing apps aren’t deprecated, requiring rewriting for newer APIs.

Oh, you also want backwards compatibility of new app features for older devices that can’t run newer OS versions?

And then you want cross platform syncing so your iPhone/Mac data can be exchanged with your employer-provided Windows desktop via Google Drive, Box, etc. or a some other app-specific collaboration service or proprietary SaaS API like has?

And all l this stuff to be kept up to date for compatibility and bug fixes without paying recurring fees or for tech support staff to answer calls or emails and to keep the FAQ updated?

Please, give the developers a little incentive to keep providing you value. And don’t begrudge them that incentive. Durable goods like automobiles and houses cost money to fix, maintain, or upgrade even if you aren’t paying the original manufacturer over and over but someone else.

Keep in mind that the tremendous advances in mass market technology unheard of just ten years ago are enabled by massive economies of scale which requires amortization of huge up front and sunk costs. Someone has to pay at least a little. Pay the $0.99 per month or whatever the indie developer is asking. Or use the open source freeware if it meets your needs. Linux is available too.

Otherwise go write your own software. Then it will be free forever.


I’m in the boat of supporting subscription for indie dev, provided that the cost is low. For $1/month, it’s a no brainer to me for example supporting Overcast or Pocket Cast player, or Parcel app or Twitterrific. But at $5/month for certain apps like Fantastical, I think it’s too much - perhaps it is because I don’t see the value of the features it provide vs the price it ask for. There must be a balance, else there are other choices for the users.


Totally agree. For instance, I use the heck out of Drafts, it’s my jump off point for most of my text messaging and email drafting on iOS and my Mac. It’s my personal inbox when my hands are full and I’m on the go thanks to the Apple Watch complication. I gladly pay for both the iOS and Mac versions subscription on a monthly basis because I get tremendous value. But I wouldn’t pay $5 a month for a calendar app, despite the fact that I live by time boxing methods.

I couldn’t agree more. I found this post by iA founder to be very interesting and informative. I also appreciated that he considered the customer’s perspectives.

I am a big fan of the fantastical app. However, I feel Flexibits is ripping me off by charging me $5 a month for a calendar app. The founder of iA is correct that consumers will compare. for $5 a month, feedbin is excellent service. Drafts is excellent value for subscription. Todoist which is $4 a month is also very good value. I just dont see why Fantastical is $5 a month and thats why I feel they are ripping me off.

The developer decides what the charge for their apps and as the consumer, I decide if I want to pay their asking price. For this reason, I am not subscribed to Fantastical. Now if it was $5 a year, I am all in. Clearly, Fantastical has enough people paying their subscription and I wish them all the best for that.


There are other pricing models aside from subscriptions. They are not being explored because subscriptions can and do result in windfalls for the developers. I avoid them like the plague because frankly I don’t care to get ripped off and I don’t have that kind of money. Plus I don’t like them on principle.

An app that cost a few bucks to own is now charging that much per month. And most of the developers are doing it! The customers are not getting anything or very little out of paying this extra money. After a year, you own nothing. After two years, you own nothing. After three… When you stop and plug the numbers in you become cognizant of how ridiculous it is.

The prices are pretty well hidden in the App Store. Often they are outdated. They should be clearly delineated and they’re not. They leave a list of numbers with no explanation. I’ve had to go to websites looking, to little avail. I just check the negative feedback and the dissatisfied usually share that information.

It is SO easy to get hooked up into a subscription you have no interest in paying. I check every week to make sure there is not some thing I accidentally signed up for.

There was one Radio App which showed up on my list that had these ridiculous prices. I already have Apple Music. Why would I want that? I had not even downloaded the app. It was $10 or $12 a month. I appealed to Apple and they refunded my money. But there are plenty of people out there who do not check for a myriad of reasons. If they want the app subscription then they should have to DO SOMETHING. It shouldn’t be a matter of default in favor of the developer.

Also, you mean to tell me that all these apps need to be developed forever? What happened to you buy something, then you pay for it?

Agenda has a great model. Charge for upgrades.

Because this price model is so anti-consumer, I predict it’s going to implode. But Apple :green_apple: has been pushing it because they get a nice lil kickback. So who knows?


Fantastical is a good example of that acceptable pricing range I mentioned earlier. They are charging $40/year for three apps (edit: this refers to the macOS app, iOS app and iPadOS app) that previously cost $50, $10 and $5, so the subscription equals the upfront cost in a little over 19 months. $1/month would take five and a half years to equal the upfront cost.

They’re also bundling an ongoing service, which is one of the reasons the article listed as making subscriptions palatable, although the article’s point about the visibility and legibility of the service also is relevant as many people either aren’t aware of the service, are aware but don’t have a mental model for valuing push syncing and appointment setting as a service, or simply don’t have any need for those things and resent the bundling.

I think what you mean to say is for three platforms. It’s ONE calendar app. I thought maybe I had missed something so I went to the App Store to check.

I have the app. Bought and paid for it. There was never anything exceptional about it. In fact, it managed to lose some important birthdays. The UI is somewhat confusing the way it is set up especially when you are in a hurry.

There is certainly no longer any consumer friendly model there for Fantastical! I don’t even own a Mac so that would subtract $50 right off the top. At $5 per month or $60… ok, I’d consider paying a $10 flat fee for extra bells and whistles.

But then Fantastical is charging the same amount next year and the year after that and the year after that… Four years at $240? I imagine if you pay yearly instead of monthly it’s a bit cheaper. Not everyone can do that.

People work hard for their money. Idk, I think if there were thousands of people nice enough to send me money I’d treat them far better than that!

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The problem with the subscription model is that it disproportionally benefits those who could survive without it, while disproportionally burdens those who could’ve benefitted from it.

As have been widely pointed out, the subscription model is a commitment to a software’s long-term evolution and a flexible payment plan for once-in-a-while needs. Ironically, most of the air on the field of subscription is siphoned by incumbent, clumsy “professional” softwares that are carelessly maintained — Office, Adobe Suite, etc. Their adoption of the subscription pricing is but a way to tax people who are obliged to use them because they are “standards.”

Unfortunately, the more subscription money goes to the big techs’ pockets, the less money people are lefted with to pay indie developers who genuinely care about their software and need the stable income to make real their roadmaps. And when humbly switch to the subscription model for survival, they become the principal – if not sole — outlet for people’s malice toward the big techs’ abuse of the model.


Thanks—I edited it to make clear I was referring to the macOS, iOS and iPadOS apps, each available on a different platform like you said.

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They don’t have to be developed forever, as long as you never change your operating system. Which means not updating iOS / macOS, not upgrading your phone, etc.

But right now, there are things about iOS 14 that just plain don’t work with apps coded for iOS 13. So for anybody upgrading, there’s a good chance that for their apps to keep working they’ll need the dev to do significant work.

I agree that $240 seems a bit steep. However, there’d logically need to be some development cost in that 4 year period, again, unless you don’t upgrade iOS, macOS, etc. at all during that time.

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