Subscription Model – Rant #1

Subscription Model – Rant #1

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Today starts a new chapter on this blog, the rant chapter, and the first rant is about the subscription model that we all have to swallow without a huge glass of water. Yes mate, I will be taking the time to complain and talk about some of the quirks that we face in our day-to-day life but we don’t take the time to talk about it freely. I’ll post some more of these articles over time. I don’t have the schedules yet, but they will drop here and there and I will understand if you want to escape this kind article.

Subscription Model – Rant #1

Well, for those who don’t know what a subscription model is, and I doubt that we can find people that do not know what it is but, the subscription model is a way that companies found to make you pay for their constant stream of cash, plain and simple.

Is like renting the thing that you are using, clear as water. And I am okay with the idea of renting a house when you cannot afford one or renting a place to work when you cannot be the owner of the place. All these ideas are great and make life easier for people to work and live. The same goes for utilities, internet, cell phone bills all these works, you pay for what you are consuming.

But recently companies are changing the game, some in the name of “innovation” others just in the name of profits, and there’s no way to deny it. They want your money every month in a constant stream of cash coming in, and the problem is yours if you don’t have the money to pay your software bill this month.

But to further understand this, which in my uneducated eyes, is a huge problem, we have to take a step back and learn how things were done in the past when life had options and you could own what you were buying.

The past

Let take technology companies as an example, after all, most of them are today moving towards a subscription model, and how they used to do business in the past. Tech companies in the past, put the effort first, they built /developed  the tech they assume that wouldl rock the world and after that these companies would try to sell the idea that this new tool could help you, the customer, and you, in need of a new tool, you BUY from them what you needed to be able to perform your job, simple like that. Once a new version came to the market you had the option to upgrade, paying a reasonable amount for that, or you could be stuck with your old version that still works for the work you WANT to do.

In this format, you as a customer are the owner of your software copy, and you get to decide when it is time to upgrade based on your necessity, this is not hard to understand hey! Using this format companies had to produce a compelling upgrade to sell to you if they wanted to receive your money for such upgrade, and when I say complete I mean, they had to put the work on the product first and make it work, otherwise, you wouldn’t not buy it.

One can argue that this model is not good because the customer is not receiving the “latest and greatest” version of the software, but what if for the sake of god you don’t need the “latest and greatest” shit to perform your work. C’mon this is also not difficult to understand. And by the way sometimes these “Upgrades” only make things stop working properly and create more digital waste.

The present

Nowadays no matter where you look you will see some sort of subscription model, computer software companies are just one kind of service that we have to subscribe to “keep up-to-date”.

I am pretty sure that most of the people reading this are well acquainted with Netflix services, and don’t get me wrong their services is the kind of subscription services that I get behind, it is good to sit in your cough and choose what you are going to watch without waiting around for the time to the movie start or endure a ton of not designed for you interesting advertisements.

But let’s take Microsoft Office, for example, it was in the past a suite of tools super useful for some to solve most of the problems of a business office, which you used to buy and own the suite, now it is only available in the subscription model. You have to renew every year to have access to the programs and, I dare you to not renew your subscription.

The same thing / model is made by Adobe, which you and I can imagine is most of the time a suite of choices for many photographers and other creatives. This choice is not because their software is the best in the world, yes believe me it’s not, this choice is because of the industry adoption, which means that most professionals around the globe use some piece of Adobe software.

This means that if Adobe uses the monthly payment format they will make much more money than just selling you a license that you can use indefinitely. And guess what this is what they thought when they changed all their products to the subscription model. I can imagine all the board members sit around a huge table discussing how they could improve their revenue with the minimum effort possible. And with the market penetration that Adobe had at that moment, the solution was easy to reach, CHARGE YOU EVERY MONTH for updates you did not ask for.

This move also can be seen inside other industries as well like music with Spotify just to name one of the services. In the past you used to buy the freaking album, go home and listen to that thing until you get tired of it. Now you just jump on an app and start browsing through a lot of songs and artists, most of whom by the way are very underpaid if we compare the actual scenario with the industry of decades ago. Maybe that’s why most of the music today is garbage, I don’t know, but this is a rant for another time.

OR BETTER YET, imagine your printer every month sending a report to the manufacturer with how much ink you still have, and why not just order a new ink cartridge when the “the printer” feels like doing it without you knowing. This is the case of a friend who has a print that only works if she subscribes to an ink delivery system, controlled by the printer software. Wait…What…

The future

Boy oh boy. I can see in the future a lot of services going to the subscription model, and some of them are already here and you don’t even realize, like the whole tale of the “Apple Ecosystem. C’mon, you buy a computer that only works correctly with their software, ask some Premiere Pro users, or all the other shenanigans that an apple fan-boy brags about, that only works inside of that Apple fenced garden. This is not wrong if you are aware that you are buying into an idea that is limiting your possibilities and not freeing you up.

We are living to see the subscription in food delivery, where you will receive some of your goods at the comfort of your home with all the necessary parts to cook dinner, disconnecting you from all the process to find a good steak, or to know if your legumes are ripe enough, or to try a different produce. No, let’s subscribe to make your dinner that comes in a box and you don’t know from where. This is limiting, to say the least. Listen, I’m not against home deliveries and all these facilities in the modern world, but I think everyone needs to know where their food comes from and how it grows.

Books, this also is an industry that is going to die sometime, we will not be able to go out and buy a freaking book sometime soon. The closer you will get to this is to subscribe to a service that will grant access to a digital version of the book, and pray to god for your Ipad not die when you are getting to the best part of the book and far from home or an outlet.

As soon as an automotive manufacturer realizes that they also can implement some sort of subscription to charge you in something vital for your car or travel they will.

I was reading an article the other day about an airbag vest for motorcyclists which is applying the subscription system, the owner of the vest, to be able to use the airbags. No money every month, no airbags. This is low, way low to my uneducated understating. I don’t want my life hanging from paying to arrive at the destination, sorry not for me. IF I AM BUYING SOMETHING THE THING NEEDS TO BE MINE.

What are the alternatives

Well, there are many, from simply accepting that you, and I also mean I, have to accept this new reality and go with the flow to change all our workflow using some piece of technology that does not charge you every month.

Luckily we still have some good companies that understand that people also want to have control over where their money is going, and these companies still produce good products to meet this demand. Surely this kind of product is not the cheapest of the bunch but in the long run, you will see the effect on your wallet for sure. A good example of this approach on the image editing software front is Capture One, which has 2 business models, you can subscribe to their product and pay for it monthly, but you can also buy a PERPETUAL license and be the sole owner of your copy.

Hey…Rix..but I am a video editor…I will have to use Adobe Premiere. One might say…

For those I will reply:

Hey, man, have you ever heard of DaVinci Resolve?

And may I complete my sentence saying that this is not just one of the industry standards but it also has a freaking free version, so there are no arguments here to not even try.

The cold harsh truth is, there are a lot of good options out there, with good prices for buying the thing instead of renting it all you need to do is search for it, and if you do your homework you can also find some hidden free gems out there.

I am not against the subscription model, just to be clear, and I am not against some of the companies I have cited here. I simply don’t like to pay for things that I haven’t asked for and with some subscription models this is the very premise, receive money first to develop resources that you haven’t asked for and put them as a feature of the new “update”.

And you what are your thoughts on this situation? Tired of all this subscription models? Or I am being too critical here, leave your comments.

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