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Ulysses, infected by a trendy virus, changes to all-Subscription model

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Posted by Prion
Aug 11, 2017 at 02:56 PM


Hewson et al are not entirely wrong, in fact, he is right about the fact that someone must pay. If it is not you, then it must be somebody else (in many cases I suspect it may be a hopeful but underpaid developer) or else the product will vanish within short time.
Where he and the other folk writing articles about how wonderful Ulysses move towards a subsription are utterly wrong, however, is that he openly assumes that he is in any way representative of the average use case. Which he is not. He has published best-selling books and can afford to pay however much Ulysses is charging him for providing him with one of the major tools that earns his income. And that’s the same thing with many other people welcoming this move that we read about.

The majority of us simply don’t earn their money by putting words on paper. We need to write one way or another. My institution provides me with a license for Word and simply because I am a rebel and don’t like Word I have a multitude of licenses for other programs I can write better in. Just as spreadsheets. Databases. Todo lists. Productivity tools. Tinderbox. Devonthink.

If I wanted to provide every nice developer with a steady income (which I do) I’d quickly be spending my entire income (which I don’t) because frankly, many of the tools I sometimes use aren’t as central to my professional life as Ulysses is to Hewson or some of the tech bloggers. They are just a very vocal crowd.
What I take home from this is that a developer is no more obliged to give away the fruit of his/her labour cheaply than I am to pay whatever they would like me to. Time to pare down my software arsenal and weed out some old but seldomly used old friends, I guess. 


Stephen Zeoli wrote:
The author David Hewson, one of Ulysses’s biggest fans, offers a
>perspective opposite of mine:
> >https://davidhewson.com/2017/08/11/the-new-ulysses-subscription-plan-is-a-wonderful-idea/
> >Steve Z.


Posted by MadaboutDana
Aug 11, 2017 at 03:16 PM


Ah, perhaps Prion is right and we’ve all been grotesquely spoiled by the plethora of good-quality, relatively low-cost applications that have proliferated on the market for the last few years. I am regularly appalled by the nasty comments about having to pay for apps that appear not just in the Google Android store, but in the Apple App Store - people really do seem to feel they should get all apps for free.

So perhaps, albeit with a tear in the eye, it is indeed time to rip out those lesser-used apps and hone one’s life down to a Thoreau-esque simplicity…

Ah, the trials of the passionate CRIMPer!


Posted by Stephen Zeoli
Aug 11, 2017 at 04:03 PM


Right you are, Prion. Much like a graphic designer pays an annual subscription for Adobe Design Cloud, Hewson pays for the tools of his craft. And I certainly understand and respect that attitude.

You and Bill both bring up an interesting possible side benefit for CRIMPers. Right now it is easy to pay a one-off fee to purchase a piece of software. If you end up not using it much, you don’t really have to think about it again. But when it is a subscription, you definitely need to be more careful about spending those initial dollars (or substitute the currency of choice).  For example, with DayOne and Ulysses. They both do similar things. You could write a book in DayOne if you wanted to and you can certainly keep a diary in Ulysses. I possibly can see myself abandoning DayOne altogether and paying the subscription for Ulysses (I’d never go the other way, but others might). How many other apps will fall by the wayside as they go to subscription?

Hmmm. Food for thought.

Steve Z.


Posted by Lothar Scholz
Aug 11, 2017 at 04:28 PM


>My guess is that the analysis would show that the bet is: introducing a
>subscription might cause my customer base to drop 20-30% temporarily,
>the cash flow from monthly fee would offset the loss, and then the base

I think for an already well developed product like Ulysses you can lose 80% and still doing better.

First you have to realize that this is a huge price increase compared to previous prices where you could decide to only get it on iOS or macOS. Having a full previous price repaid in just one year is what i consider a 200% increase because my average is (just a feeling, i don’t have checked it) about 3 years before i upgrade. Often this means i have to pay the full price again because i missed one or two (not really so) major releases.

As a shareware author in the 2000s years i know that most sales are only done impulsive once and not used for a long time. With the required minimum subscription time they are not lost. So it’s pretty hard to lose money with subscriptions if you have an already really popular software.

But the main trend is even worse. It’s the software as a service model. Thats what i really hate. I refuse to go into the cloud for almost everything. Especially when you realize how inefficient and disappointing most web software still is.

And i also find the $5 coffee comparison offensive. Why not compare it with the typical Hippster Advocado Toast with Wallnut Salad for $19?
“Hey you can buy my software for less then the cost of a toast. A single toast in your whole lifetime.”  I should remember this for my next marketing campaign.



Posted by Paul Korm
Aug 11, 2017 at 04:43 PM


There’s a “bundled” subscription program that started earlier this year (I think)—I hardly ever see this mentioned anywhere, which makes me wonder if anyone uses it.


For $9.99 monthly one gets access to a number of products including (allegedly) all upgrades produced while the subscription is active.  You need to dig around in the site to see which ones—but it didn’t include Ulysses at one point.  At least, the logo was still on their page this morning.

It’s a steep price to pay for using one or two apps, but if subscriptions become even more pervasive and someone uses four or five of these apps, it might be useful.

Downside is that once Ulysses and others go for their own subscription programs they will abandon SetApp because it might cannibalize the revenue stream.


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