Ulysses, probably the greatest writing apps on the Mac and iOS, simply switched to subscription pricing. It’ll now price you $5 per thirty days, or $40 per 12 months. That is improbable information for Ulysses customers. It means the app will generate sufficient revenue to help itself. And it minimizes the chance of the builders abandoning the app when the stream of latest customers dries to a trickle.
But regardless of this excellent news, the web misplaced it thoughts after yesterday’s announcement of the pricing change. At the moment the Ulysses weblog is just serving a single publish, the one detailing the change, as a result of the site visitors has been sufficient to break down the servers. What occurred?
The App Retailer is sort of a pyramid scheme the place no one wins
If you happen to use well-designed, advanced software program, you can be accustomed to the App Retailer Ghost Ship Drawback (an issue I simply named myself). An app launches, usually to a number of nice publicity, and collects new customers for a few years. These new patrons hold sufficient cash coming in that the developer can hold engaged on the app — updating it, including new options and eradicating bugs.
After some time, although, these new customers dry up. Sustaining the app turns into unsustainable. The devs go away the app to rot, maybe pushing out an emergency replace each infrequently to cease it from changing into incompatible with a brand new model of iOS. The developer strikes on to a brand new app, as a result of that’s the one manner it will possibly keep open for enterprise. In the meantime, individuals who use the app daily watch their favourite software wither and die.
That’s the App Retailer mannequin proper now. It really works like a sort of pyramid scheme, with an infinite and swift provide of latest customers required to help current customers.
Subscription pricing fixes this. The heaviest customers of an app, those probably to understand its continued enchancment, can now pay to help it. I’m a cheerful Ulysses person, on Mac and iOS. I write all my Cult of Mac articles in it, even utilizing it to publish them.
I’m most likely as heavy a person of Ulysses as you may get. But even I balked on the thought of the app transferring to subscription pricing when Max Seelemann, one of many two bosses at Ulysses developer The Soulmen, instructed me about it a month or so again. (I shared an workplace with the staff for a number of months after I first moved to Germany.)
Ulysses subscription costs might be cheaper
Beforehand, the Ulysses iOS app price $25 and the Mac model price $45. That’s $70, and there was no approach to strive Ulysses first in your iPad or iPhone to see for those who prefer it, or to see if the sync works (it does, BTW — very well).
Now, you get a free 14-day trial on all platforms. As soon as the trial ends, you may hold the app in read-only mode. The $40-per-year subscription worth ($30 for current customers) covers all variations of the app. If one imagines an App Retailer the place app upgrades might be bought, then $40 yearly for a brand new Mac app and a brand new iOS app appears affordable.
Even so, folks don’t like subscriptions. With paid upgrades, you may at all times hold utilizing the outdated model when a brand new model launches. You’re not pressured to improve. With subscriptions, for those who cease paying, you lose entry to some or the entire app. And subscriptions don’t match every kind of apps.
For one thing like Ulysses — a pro-level software with a paid help staff — the subscription mannequin is sensible. However for a one-shot app with a single objective — like an app that removes the situation metadata out of your photographs earlier than you share them or a sticker pack for Messages — a subscription is an excessive amount of.
In between, although, are apps that might go both manner. Would you pay to maintain your favourite mountaineering maps app up to date? We appear pleased to pay subscriptions for apps which have ever-changing content material — magazines, Netflix, and so on. — however not for apps that require ongoing help, or a giant effort to develop.
Haters gotta … wait?
For the reason that announcement, the @UlyssesApp Twitter has been off the hook. The complainers and the supporters, although, break up roughly 50:50, operating via the gamut of opinions.
“I’d say it’s round half-and-half, with the total spectrum,” Seelemann instructed Cult of Mac. “Flaming supporters, folks that suppose it’s OK, folks that hate it however might be satisfied, and plenty of folks that basically hate the step.”
We already know that haters are extra vocal than supporters, and the numbers for Ulysses’ subscription launch agree. Subscription signups have been “higher than we might have anticipated,” says Seelemann.
Lots of thought appears to have gone into retaining current customers pleased. There’s a grace interval for individuals who already bought Ulysses, together with a lifelong low cost on all future subscriptions.
Right here’s a related entry from the Ulysses FAQ:
I’ve beforehand bought Ulysses (on macOS and/or iOS). Do I get a reduction?
Sure, you’re eligible for a lifetime low cost of 50% on the month-to-month subscription (restricted time supply).
Additionally, relying in your buy date, you should use Ulysses fully at no cost for as much as 18 months. Current purchases of the Mac app will unlock as much as 12 months of free use, and purchases of the iOS app will unlock as much as 6 months of free use. Your particular person free-use period is calculated out of your precise buy dates, and for those who purchased Ulysses on each platforms, we’ll add collectively each durations.
In follow, it’s not so sophisticated. You simply faucet the subscription signup part in both the Mac or the iOS apps. The app will let you know when your grace interval runs out, and the way a lot the subscription will price you after that. Regardless of the hurricane of whining on Twitter, nearly all of current Ulysses customers signed up instantly.
Most Ulysses customers signed up already
“70% or so bought earlier than the grace interval ended,” Seelemann instructed us. “That’s an enormous variety of potential adopters.” To make that clear, 70 p.c of the individuals who have beforehand paid for Ulysses have already signed up for a subscription, even when they’ve months left the place they may have used it free. Regardless of the complainers, it doesn’t sound just like the transfer to subscriptions will delay Ulysses clients. Quite the opposite, it appears extra like they had been ready for a possibility to help a product they use and love.
And it’s not simply outdated fingers which can be pleased, both. Seelemann didn’t share exact numbers for individuals who signed up for the free trial. However, he says, “We do have a depend for the trial starters, and the quantity is superb.”
A part of this comparatively benign reception for a controversial change is the corporate’s communication. In a protracted piece printed on Medium, Seelemann lays out the explanations for the change, the issues with the present App Retailer mannequin, and the choices surrounding this new path. Right here’s a snippet.
We wish to be certain the app will probably be round for years and years to come back. We wish to closely spend money on its improvement, and this requires the precise setting for our staff, our households and our customers. Writers wish to depend on knowledgeable software that’s continuously evolving, and we wish to hold delivering simply that.
Switching to a Ulysses subscription is simple
If you happen to do change over to the subscription model (and also you don’t should — you may hold utilizing the app you already bought), the app will import all of your current paperwork at launch, within the background. Any customized fonts you added may even present up there. In actual fact, you gained’t discover something aside from the brand new subscription choices.
It’s clean, and typical of The Soulmen. The corporate has a knack for taking advanced issues and developing with simple-seeming options. If you happen to use Ulysses, you understand how a lot energy the devs packed into the simple-looking app, which someway stays straightforward to make use of. Now, it seems to be just like the the Soulmen staff did the identical for App Retailer sustainability.
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