Unintentional side effect of software subscriptions

The default business model for a lot of software is the subscription model, where users pay a recurring fee.

An unintentional side effect of using a subscription model, is that we end up competing with actors in wildly different verticals or domains. Our sewing app ends up competing with Netflix because we tax the same monthly subscription budget of the user, not because we compete in offering the same service or content.

Expecting users to sign up for subscriptions for every piece of software they need is unsustainable and, I would argue, a source of lost opportunities.

The subscription model is in many cases a lazy way to secure revenue. Often times the argument for subscriptions is that the software requires synchronisation via cloud services, or other forms of online presence. This causes a running charge to the vendor, which again leads to the need for a subscription. I would like to challenge that requirement for a lot of software.

Many apps do not need its own synchronisation service. Users are already paying for cloud storage one way or another. Piggybacking on these could be a great way to remove the need for a separate service and subscriptions, making the software a more attractive purchase in the process.

The best software I have bought over the last years do exactly that: They offer a one time fee, and let me store my data on the various cloud storage services I already pay for. They provide excellent software and let me choose if and where I want to sync my data.

As software vendors, I don’t think we should underestimate how many purchases we miss out on because our potential users have to renew their Netflix or Spotify subscription instead.