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About Subscription Software...

Discussion in 'Business Management' started by GTracer, Aug 3, 2017.

How do you feel about subscription based software?

  1. Like it

  2. Hate it

  3. No opinion

Results are only viewable after voting.
  1. GTracer

    GTracer Merchant Member

    Apr 28, 2010
    I recently received the following comment from an individual who watched a video demonstration of our new Graphic Tracer Professional on YouTube. They said,

    "This looks like an amazing product to shorten production time. The only problem is you don't actually buy the program.....you only lease it by the month or year so it costs you yearly to use it."

    The following was my response...

    Did you know that you don't "actually buy" most software programs? Read the fine print in the agreements when you install their programs. When you "buy" most software programs like CorelDraw, Adobe, or whatever sign making software you are currently using, etc., you will see that what you are actually paying for is a "license” to use their program, and the only thing that you really own is the graphic or data you produce using that particular software program.

    With most programs, you pay an initial price, and then have upgrade costs when the program adds new features or no longer runs on a new operating system. (example: Say you pay $400 for a program, and then have to pay $50 each year to upgrade. If you only upgrade every other year, after 4 years, you will have spent a total of $500. Divide that by 4 years of service, and you see that your software cost $125 per year.)

    Graphic Tracer has no upgrade cost. You are always able to use the latest & greatest at no additional cost. Graphic Tracer is an amazing program, and it does greatly reduce the time typically required to clean up bad quality customer art and make it production ready. The big question is, "how much time does it have to save you in the daily work flow to reclaim what you pay for your subscription?" You can run your own "test" at www.graphictracervideos.com check it out.

    Think of Graphic Tracer like you would a good employee that is good at reducing tedious tasks that eat up lots of time and bring in no revenue. It is also good at helping your shop be more productive... You don't "own" your employee, you pay them to help you daily, weekly, monthly etc. Any employee you "hire" needs make your business more profitable... they need to be able to save or make you enough money to cover their own expenses and beyond in order to stay on the payroll.

    Graphic Tracer is ready and willing to help you 24/7. It will work long hours for a minimal monthly fee… and there is no additional cost. When it "get's smarter", acquires new features and is able to do other jobs faster and more efficiently, it will never ask you for a raise. It will continue to work without complaining for the same price that you paid when it first started working for your shop...

    If you have questions regarding Graphic Tracer’s ability to perform, you can check out the videos on YouTube or Facebook or send me a note. I would be happy to answer any of your questions. If you already use Graphic Tracer, I invite you to give us a quick rating & evaluation on Facebook.

    One more thing, if you introduce Graphic Tracer to others, you can get a free subscription and make money through our affiliate program by simply telling others about Graphic Tracer! Contact me if you are interested in the details.
  2. hcardwell93

    hcardwell93 Premium Subscriber

    Nov 9, 2015
    I like the idea of subscriptions for the fact that its always updated. And for starting out its financially easier to subscribe to 3 $20 pieces of software than it is to purchase 3 $600 licenses.

    Where people are coming from when they talk about "buying" software is that many shops buy a license, put it on their machine and use it for 10 years before thinking of upgrading.

    The big advantage I see of purchasing a license over subscription is that once I stop paying the monthly fee I can no longer use the software that I have paid a lot of money into. If I purchased the full license I can use it as long as I have a compatible OS to run it.
  3. Johnny Best

    Johnny Best Active Member

    Dec 9, 2015
    buffalo ny
    I think he meant to say, "you only lease it by the month or year so it costs you dearly to use it."
    • Like Like x 1
  4. 2CT Media

    2CT Media Very Active Member

    Jun 15, 2009
    Mesa, Arizona
    My biggest problem with subscriptions is a lot of smaller companies use this model to tout faster and more frequent updates, but in reality that is not the case and most of the updates are just software bug fixes.

    So my point of contention is a full license purchase forces the software designer to not be lazy and have a good working tool vs a subscription model where it appears that designers use that as a excuse to release software early and patch it later.
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2017
    • Like Like x 2
    • Agree Agree x 2
  5. billsines

    billsines Member

    May 24, 2016
    Yearly subscription = their hand is always in your pocket.

    I bought Corel outright and will own x7 forever. If I don't want to upgrade a a buggy version like some report x8 is, I don't have to.

    That means my cost per piece of artwork generated will always decrease each time I generate new artwork because my up front cost was set in stone. I hate yearly subscriptions. I hate monthly payments on equipment and anything else. I like owning everything outright.
    • Like Like x 4
    • Agree Agree x 4
  6. untitled

    untitled New Member

    May 27, 2014
    I can't really say I like it or hate it. Like hcardwell93 said, you don't technically need to keep upgrading software to keep it useful. A lot of the stuff can still easily be achieved in Ilustrator 8. So if I bought just that back in the day I would be way ahead than paying to use it monthly/yearly. So while you are technically correct about the agreements when purchasing software, the developers don't enforce them, so in my opinion that isn't really an argument for or against the model as it would just be to costly to even try to enforce.

    At the same time I get exactly why a lot of developers are going to the subscription based models. For one it really cuts down on piracy and makes it more difficult to install on multiple machines. Then support staff doesn't need to worry about knowing a lot about older versions. I think the developer would have an easier time selling their product as well with it being a lower monthly cost compared to a big upfront cost.

    At the end of day it does cost more in the long run, but I think you get a better product over time. Some companies in my opinion way overcharge for their subscription based software, for example QuickBooks charges for $24/month for the first 12 months ($288/year), and then $40/month ($480/year) after that. That is for the QuickBooks Online Small Business Plus account. If you just buy the QuickBooks Pro instead of using the online version it cost $200 after finding a coupon code and buying it outright. So I went from QuickBooks 2010 to QuickBooks 2016 and it cost me $200 for 2010 and $200 for 2016 when I finally upgraded. So for those 6 years of software it cost me a total of $400 compared to $2,688 on the subscription model. All prices are CAD.

    Sorry, kind of went on there. As for the cost of your software, I think it is very reasonable. I haven't used it myself yet, but will give it a try at some point when I have some time, but if it does what it says it does then it is definitely reasonably priced.
  7. CanuckSigns

    CanuckSigns Very Active Member

    Nov 11, 2008
    My issue with subscription based software is that once you stop paying for the software, you can no longer use it, and sometimes cant even open up old files created with the software. If I buy a traditional licence, as long as I have a machine that would run it, i am free to use it as much as I like.

    Case in point, we use a pricing program called Estimate, the version we have uses a traditional licence, when I asked about upgrading to add another seat, i was told the program is now subscription based, and cost around $120/ month. The whole program only cost me $600 initially, and i offered to pay an additional $600 for an additional seat, but they refused, so needless to say I am still working with the old version and they didn't get any of my money.

    What would be a nice middle ground is to offer both options, if someone is just starting out or wants to test the software, they can try the subscription, from there they can decide if they want to pay monthly or an all at once up front fee.

    I understand the pricing model from a software developers point of view, it's a nice consistant cash flow vs. only getting paid when you release updates. However from a business owners point of view, the software better be constantly improving to justify a monthly fee.
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Like Like x 1
  8. Pauly

    Pauly Member

    Feb 14, 2016
    I rather own a licence than pay a subscription.
    Like MS office for example. I can use the new one, or use the older ones. dont care as they all do the same job.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  9. chester215

    chester215 Just call me Chester.

    Sep 29, 2011
    From someone still running flexi 8.? on an old xp computer dedicated to a vinyl cuter and not attached to the internet or the network.
    Why should I upgrade to the newest best-est version when the old one works fine?
    If I had a subscription based program, it would have cost us $$$$ for the years we have used it beyond the payoff date of the software.
    in my opinion, subscription based software may have it's place but not with me.
    • Like Like x 1
  10. rjssigns

    rjssigns Very Active Member

    Jun 4, 2007
    Home Office
    Purveyors of software want you to believe that without their latest product you will fail. Having no talent causes failure. Combine that with the latest software, expensive computer, and printer makes you broke too.

    Wife still crushes it with CS2.
    That's all I got to say about that.;)
    • Like Like x 3
    • Agree Agree x 1
  11. bannertime

    bannertime "You guys do banners, right?"

    Sep 8, 2016
    We've spent maybe $4,000 on Flexi over the past 24 years. Upgraded from 6 to 7.5 to 11 to 12(free upgrade since we upgraded one day before 12 was announced). So lets say $14 a month for a good full fledged design program and RIP, that we can use as much or little as possible. Your company is asking $10-$15 a month for a program that is one feature. A feature that most experienced graphic manipulators can do with Flexi, Corel, & Illustrator in a reasonable amount of time. A bit unreasonable. I'd love to have a program like yours, but I'm not going to be enslaved to your company for $180 a year. $200 every few years, then you've got my money.
    • Like Like x 1
  12. Johnny Best

    Johnny Best Active Member

    Dec 9, 2015
    buffalo ny
    I hate subscriptions and a monthly payment. So when Adobe started I stopped at CS6 for Illustrator and Photoshop.
    I did purchase Affinity Designer and AffinityPhoto and have been using those and they work really nice for the price ($50 each) and are always upgrading that does not cost you extra.
    I feel just as the web browsers use to charge and then Mozilla builds such as Thunderbird and SeaMonkey became free, hopefully that will happen with graphic products such as Sketchup is free and the pro version costs you. I do use SignCut and pay for a 5 year subscription, but it does not cost that much. Big believer in Open source software like LibreOffice instead of Word which you have to buy.
    If I am making a monthly payment I would rather get a mistress and put her in a condo with monthly payments, at least I would feel good about getting screwed by someone, and at least have the option to sell it later on for the investment I made.
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  13. WildWestDesigns

    WildWestDesigns Merchant Member

    Sep 27, 2010
    Mid TN
    One thing is very much true. If it's closed source software, there is no way for us to actually own it. Certainly not at the cost of what they charge for a new iteration (and I have one that's up to the $15k mark if you don't play the trade up/trade in game or anything like that).

    I remember when Adobe first did CC only. I priced it out for Design Premium (the version of the suite that I actually need, not want, but need) and if I bought the very first version and upgraded every iteration after that (every single one) I would be saving money after 7 yrs (with a yearly release schedule, which they seem to be on) then it would paying subscription fee in that time period. That was back in 2014-2015 when they went subscription only. Unless something catastrophic happens, I plan on still being here in 4 to 5 yrs. Now of course, I'm still running on CS5 and CS6 and I plan to stick with those for as long as I can.

    The thing that you have to remember is that with subscription, it's not that one charge a month and then you forget that you paid that charge the next month or the next. It's everything that builds up.

    With how MS is doing their forced updates (let's not even get into the subscription model that they are trying out with their Enterprise customers), there is way too much Beta going on. And MS doesn't have the track record in all my years of using their computers (I started playing games on DOS and still use DOS from Win 98 to this day for my genetic simulation programs) to actually believe that even now they can deliver regular updates without issue. Let alone 2 major updates a year. And not mention that even if you are running Win 10, if your hardware isn't supported, that may mean you won't get updates any longer, despite using Win 10. Way too much forcing to continue to upgrade, which isn't good or needed, especially in a production environment that everyone here is running in. That's why no one should be running their computers on an outside network if it's also connected to a LAN.

    Now, I understand, some programs have been around and are old and it's harder and harder to come up with new "technologies" in regular workflow to make it appealing for people to upgrade. I'm still using tools in some programs that have been around since the late '90s and early '00s, even on their latest release versions. Thankfully, with VMs, I'm still using a lot of those old programs and still making money with them.

    How computing in general is going, particularly in the closed source world, is not good in my opinion. How Adobe handled CC is why I stopped upgraded their programs (and I was actually buying new every release, I didn't like to have to install the old and then install the upgrade if I changed computers, not dealing with that hassle was worth the extra cost for me), how MS handles and is handling Win 10 is why I started running Linux on all bare metal at my shop and only running Windows in VMs.
    • Like Like x 1
  14. neato

    neato Very Active Member

    May 16, 2003
    Henderson, IL
    Advice for software manufacturers: Listen to your potential customers!
  15. ikarasu

    ikarasu Member

    Jun 10, 2016
    Port Coquitlam, bc
    To add on to what everyone else is saying...

    Subscription based software is like an investment. You're telling us your updates are going to be worth xx per month... But that doesn't mean to us they are worth that. You can work 10 hours a day, or 10 minutes a day, we have no control over it.

    If I purchased V1 for $750, and next version all you added was stuff I didn't care about... it should be my choice if I want to pay $1000 again to upgrade or not. But if you're breaking it into monthly payments of say $50, and try to justify it as it's cheaper in the long run since you get constant updates.... You're forcing me to pay for stuff I don't need, nor do I want. You're model presumes people will buy every single update - They won't, so in the long run it is more expensive... AND at the end of the day, the moment you stop paying for the monthly fee...whether you've subbed for 1 month, or 100 months, you lose the software. Lets say I love your software and use it daily. After 10 years I've put $2000 into it. The moment I stop paying, I can't use it anymore and that money went down the drain.

    It's your software and you can go subscription, or pay once, it's your choice. It kind of irritates me how you keep trying to play it off as subscription is better for the consumer though - It's not, It's a way for you to guarantee income for yourself, because once someone puts a couple hundred into your software... odds are they're going to keep putting that money in, so they don't feel like they just threw the money into the drain.

    I don't pay for any subscription software. Anything thats subscription, I look elsewhere.... Including Graphic tracer. Instead of shelling out $15 a month, I went with Vector magic. I don't think it's been updated in years... But it vectorizes... what other features can you add? Nothing that will make / break the software. We auto trace for stuff that doesn't need pinpoint accuracy - For everything else we might run it through auto trace, then go over it manually fixing the issues. I'm sure we'd do the same thing with graphic tracer if we had used it. And while GT is likely better at vectorizing than vector magic.. and has better features like font identify, To me, it's not worth being on the hook for $10-15 a month for the rest of my work career to continue using the software. So... you lost at least one customer and made him look elsewhere because of your subscription based payments. And I bet you lose a lot more customers than you think because of it.
    • Like Like x 1
  16. I would never pay for a subscription etc for any software,If i can own it ,then they dont need my money.I will find other means if needed . I use vector magic and like it a lot.
  17. what version do you have right now?.. Mine says 1.15. seems to be working perfect as always..
  18. WildWestDesigns

    WildWestDesigns Merchant Member

    Sep 27, 2010
    Mid TN
    Unless you are getting the source code with your purchase, you aren't owning it in the traditional meaning of ownership. They are all licensed purchases in the closed source world. Otherwise there would be no need for EULA agreements (doesn't matter if one bothers to read them or not).

    In that sense, I do agree with the OP. When it comes to commercial products that are closed source, none of us really own them at all. Period.
  19. WildWestDesigns

    WildWestDesigns Merchant Member

    Sep 27, 2010
    Mid TN
    [QUOTE="ikarasu, post: 1345229] You're forcing me to pay for stuff I don't need, nor do I want. You're model presumes people will buy every single update - They won't, so in the long run it is more expensive[/QUOTE]

    Actually, depending on what they charge per month versus the price of an out right license and upgrade cost, it may actually in the long run still be cheaper to purchase a perpetual license every new iteration then subscription. So it really does just depend on the situation. For me, in Adobe's case, 7 yrs of upgrading every release and I would start saving money versus spending money going the subscription route.

    I'm sure that there are some situations where the subscription model works, especially for larger businesses, but it isn't going to work in every instance.

    This is coming from someone that used to by new (not upgrade, new) every iteration that Adobe came out.

    I just don't like the feeling that subscriptions give me at all and if OSs are going to go that route (remember MS is doing that for their Enterprise customers right now on all versions of Windows, not just Windows Enterprise, they just have to be in the market for so many licenses), that's really no bueno in my book.
  20. papabud

    papabud Lone Wolf

    Mar 7, 2016
    Toledo, OH
    I like many others prefer to buy a licence to use a product verses just renting one.
    I am the type that doesnt upgrade unless i really need to. i dont like taking chances on my working production end up not working cause of some little update.
    but i do feel a subscription service is the way to go with anything with actual service involved. lets say a repair service contract for example. or dinner of the week club.

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