Overall, I don’t think subscriptions for apps are a bad thing. I’m just worried about the inevitable subscription overload as a whole. Not only on our minds, but also on our pocketbooks. Right now, I can’t even think of every service my wife and I have a subscription to, but I know there must be at least 10 of them. I don’t want 20 to 30 subscriptions to think about and manage.
I currently pay for six app subscriptions and I already feel like I’m getting near my limit. Between Newton, Infuse, Ulysses, Carrot Weather, Overcast, and Bear, I’m spending over $100 each year on software. And that’s putting aside all of the random apps I buy that charge upfront.
I think subscriptions are a great way for developers to continue funding their efforts, but I worry that this is only a short-term solution. What happens in five years when even more apps are subscription only? How much are customers willing to spend each year on reoccurring software fees? Will this eventually push those users — who may have willingly purchased the app through another transaction type — toward free alternatives?
I’ve mentioned the idea in the past, but I think the most sensible solution is for developers of subscription software to offer a single-fee, lifetime option. If given the option of paying $5 each month, $40 each year, or paying a one-time fee of $120, I think I’d go for the lifetime option almost every time.