The Dark Side of Software Subscription Models

   Software subscription models are becoming more and more popular in the digital world, as companies seek to generate recurring revenue and increase customer loyalty. However, this trend also has a huge financial disadvantage for customers, who end up paying more for the same or less value. Moreover, subscription models pose a risk of losing access to essential apps or services, if they are discontinued or terminated by the providers. The prices mentioned in this article are as they were found on offer on February 27th, 2024.

   One of the main drawbacks of software subscription models is that they often cost more than permanent licensing models in the long run. For example, Microsoft 365, a popular productivity suite, costs $69.99 per year for a single user, or $6.99 per month. However, a one-time purchase of Microsoft Office Home and Student 2021, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, costs only $149.99. This means that after about two years of using Microsoft 365, a customer would have paid more than the permanent license, and would continue to pay indefinitely.

   Another problem with software subscription models is that they do not always offer significant improvements or updates that justify the ongoing payments. Many apps or services that use subscription models do not change much from one version to the next, or offer features that are not essential or useful for most customers. For example, Adobe Photoshop, a popular photo editing software, costs $22.99 per month for a single app, or $35.99 per month for the entire Creative Cloud suite. However, many of the new features that Adobe adds to Photoshop are not relevant or noticeable for most users, who only need the basic tools and functions. Therefore, paying a monthly fee for Photoshop may not be worth it for many customers, who could use alternative software apps that offer similar or better features for a lower price or even for free.

   A final issue with software subscription models is that they make customers dependent on the providers, who can decide to discontinue or terminate the apps or services at any time, without any guarantee or compensation. This means that customers may lose access to the apps or services that they rely on for their work or personal needs, and may end up having paid for something that is no longer available. For example, in 2019, Google announced that it would shut down Google+, its social network, due to low usage and security issues. This affected millions of users who had created profiles, communities, and content on the platform, and who had no control over the fate of their data. Similarly, in 2020, Adobe announced that it would stop supporting Flash Player, its multimedia software, by the end of the year, and urged users to uninstall it from their devices. This meant that many websites, games, and applications that used Flash would no longer work, and that users would have to find alternatives or lose access to them.

   To sum up, software subscription models are not always beneficial for customers, who may end up paying more for less value, and who may lose access to the apps or services that they use. Therefore, customers should be aware and flexible, and should not be encouraged to subscribe to apps or services that do not offer significant changes or improvements. Instead, customers should look for apps or services that offer permanent licenses, or that are free and open source, and that respect their rights and preferences.

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