Thoughts on Subscriptions

Applications are moving more to a subscription model. Subscriptions are a benefit for developers because they can better forecast their finances if they have a steady stream of ongoing, recurring revenue. On the other hand, customers generally dislike subscriptions because it's yet another thing that they have to account for each month or year.

How software was sold in the past

In the decades before subscriptions arrived, software was sold in boxed packages or distributed via the internet using a one-time pricing model. Companies provided free software updates in the form of regular point release updates. For major releases, these companies typically charged an upgrade fee. For instance, going from App 1.0 to App 1.1 would generally not cost anything, but going from App 1.0 to App 2.0 would incur some cost.

MsgFiler's pricing history

MsgFiler has been available for a one-time purchase for nearly two decades. When MsgFiler 3 was released on the Mac App Store in 2010, there was a separate fee because the payment processor changed from Apple to PayPal.

Updates to MsgFiler Classic and MsgFiler 3 were free for the entirety of their products' lifetime, a period of 18 years!

Say you purchased the Original MsgFiler Mail Plug-In back in 2008 for $6. When MsgFiler 3 was released on the Mac App Store in 2010, you paid an additional $10. Over the course of sixteen years, you paid on average a single dollar for MsgFiler. How many countless seconds, minutes, or hours did you save from the drudgery and manual labor of dragging and dropping files in Apple Mail? I would wager that was a dollar well spent each year!

The rise of subscriptions

The shift in software subscriptions has been driven by a number of factors, including:

  • Sustainable revenue streams

  • Ongoing development and updates

  • Recurring server and maintenance costs

  • Lower initial costs

The article will not go into depth regarding the pros and cons of each factor. Suffice it to say that subscriptions are here to stay.

As a full-time indie developer, I understand the importance of knowing my monthly recurring revenue (MRR) and annual recurring revenue (ARR) numbers. It helps me plan my finances and know how much I can invest in software, hardware, cloud services, etc. to run and improve my business. With one-time licenses, the money comes in once. As I continue to update my applications, I have to rely on new customers to sustain my business. Over time, this creates an imbalance where I spend more time marketing the app than improving it. The customer base is increasing, support requests are growing, and I have less time and money to address these tasks.

I personally have long been resistant to implementing subscriptions in my app, but as a business owner, this is the right decision, now and for tomorrow. It's also important to offer customers a one-time purchase for those who prefer the old approach. Customers should have the choice in deciding how they want to use MsgFiler and support an indie developer like myself. The key then is determining how much to price the perpetual license.

Lifetime Unlock and Subscriptions

MsgFiler 4 offers users the option of choosing between a Lifetime Unlock and Subscriptions. For those wanting purely to evaluate MsgFiler 4, there's also a Freemium Mode, which offers limited, time-delayed access to premium features.

Suppose MsgFiler 4 continues to be available on macOS for the next 15 years. At $50, that's just $3.33/year. It's more than the dollar per year that MsgFiler Classic and MsgFiler 3 cost a user between 2008 and 2024, but it's a pretty good deal for a tool that will save you time every time you file messages in Apple Mail.

But say you think the one-time lifetime payment price is too high. That's okay too. Just sign up for a subscription plan and enjoy unlimited access to all the features MsgFiler 4 has to offer. You'd have to use MsgFiler 4 for five years before the Lifetime Unlock would have been a better deal.

And, if you think that's still way too much, you can use MsgFiler 4 in Freemium mode. Just be prepared to be constantly nagged at to purchase the product or subscribe. When you think about how much time you're wasting waiting for the nag prompt to disappear, you'll realize it's far better to simply pay for the product. You'll be supporting an indie developer and saving yourself time. What's better than that?

MsgFiler 4 will remain the MsgFiler for the foreseeable future. The only way a MsgFiler 5 would exist is if I had to rewrite the app again from the ground up. No guarantees, but seeing that the foundation of MsgFiler 4 is strong, I don't anticipate this happening for many years.

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