Seasons change. Systems and procedures and methods from a decade ago are ancient by today’s technological requirements. Look at all that can be accomplished with a new iPhone. Photos, videos, telecommunications, face-to-face communications, health tracking, and access to more applications than we could ever find the time to use, let alone master.
That brings us to what I call the quandary of app subscriptions. There once was a time when we bought an app, used the app, and continued to own the app forever. Those days are gone. For a decade or two we paid for an app– or, so we thought– when all we did was gain access to use the app; ownership was retained with the publisher.
Today is different, too. We rent apps by the month.
Whether or not that method is a better one than pure ownership or not remains to be seen, but it is the trend. You can download an app for free, use it for a while, test it out, but all the features come with a monthly payment.
That is the notorious app subscription.
The quandary is obvious. I cannot afford to own or pay to use as many applications today, under today’s app subscription method, as I could a decade ago. That means I have to be more judicious with choices, more critical of apps that do not do exactly as I need, and more considerate of the price tag.
I used to buy Photoshop; a few hundred dollars every few years. Then Adobe put it into a package with other attractive apps, and, again, the price tag was hundreds of dollars, but I found I could skip a generation or two of updates. I saved money. Adobe didn’t make as much money from me.
Today’s Creative Cloud suite of apps is worth the monthly price tag– if you’re a professional who can afford it. Otherwise, Photoshop alone can be $100 a year. Forever.
My iPhone and iPad are littered with app subscriptions and my new rule of thumb for apps is the same as it is for clothing and food in the pantry. If it doesn’t get used in six months, out it goes.
I want developers to make money so I am willing to pay for an app, even an ongoing fee to ensure regular upgrades and updates. Yet, I don’t want to feel I am being gouged by greedy profiteers. Have you seen the monthly price tags of iPhone and Watch health apps? I can’t afford to be that healthy.
The apps I am more inclined to subscribe to have a few things in common. First, they do something Apple’s apps do not. Second, they’re priced at an attractive amount. 99-cents per month, but no more than $2.99 a month. I saw a word processor app subscription for iPad, iPhone, and Mac that is $4.99 a month. $60 a year. It does mostly what Pages does already, far less than Microsoft Office, of course, but the annual price tag is not that far away.
One other requirement is becoming more obvious, too. Cross-platform apps must be capable of saving files to iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft’s OneDrive, etc. If they can’t do that, I’m not interested. I’ll pay for apps that are worthy of my basic criteria.