Friday, October 27, 2017

Panorama X’s Take on Subscriptions


After your free trial, you can get started with Panorama X for as little as fifteen dollars up front, and ongoing use is as little as $5/month. For months when you don’t use it, you pay nothing. There are no recurring payments — we don’t keep your credit card on file and you are in control at all times (all payments are made from within the application, under your control).

So you essentially pre-pay for a certain number of months, and you aren’t billed for months with less than an hour of use, e.g. if you accidentally launch the app or just need to look up something quickly. It’s $8.33/month for one year, down to $5/month for five years. After the “subscription” expires, the app keeps working but switches to nag mode. All in all, this seems like a fair deal, although it’s considerably more complicated to implement than regular subscriptions or the traditional software model.

Jim Rea:

Our goal is to make it easier for new users to come onboard with Panorama. In the past, the only way a new user could start using Panorama was by paying hundreds of dollars up front. Sure, we’ve always had a free trial, but for a full featured product like Panorama, it often takes more than 15-30 days to really fully understand how and if it will fit into your workflow. But with the old model, the user had to take on all the risk and put up a big chunk of cash up front. Understandably, a lot of potential users were reluctant to do that. We’d like to see lots of new users start using Panorama X, so we gave a lot of thought to how we could help users around this roadblock.


In addition, I think subscriptions in general have gotten a bad name because quite a few companies have made a big price hike at the same time that they switched to the subscription model. In some cases the software now costs the same per year that it used to cost to purchase. We haven’t done that.

Ultimately, I think this new system is a big bet on our part that customers will like Panorama X and find it productive for them. If they don’t, our revenue will dry up, and we won’t have banked a big up front payment. We’ve set this system up in a way that we have to earn our keep on an ongoing basis. If the software isn’t great, we’ve got nowhere to hide.

Previously: Productivity Apps and Subscription Pricing.

Update (2017-11-07): Joe Kissell:

For those of you who were not already familiar with it, Panorama is to databases as Nisus Writer Pro is to word processors. That is to say: it doesn’t merely get the job done; it’s endlessly flexible, customizable, and programmable, so you can make it do whatever you need it to do. Just as Nisus Writer Pro can slice and dice text in any conceivable way, Panorama can do the same with structured data.

The only problem — and it was a pretty big one — was that for years, Panorama had been increasingly behind the technological curve. Panorama 6 wasn’t a 64-bit app, it didn’t support Unicode, it had a homely and old-fashioned user interface, and it suffered from a long list of other limitations that were more and more frustrating for people using recent versions of macOS. Developer Jim Rea decided it was time to rebuild the app from the ground up, and it has been a long but rewarding process. The new version has virtually all the capabilities of the old one — and many more — without those drawbacks, and in a form that’s both more comfortable to use and far more sustainable.

2 Comments RSS · Twitter

[…] think what Jim Rea suggests is a good […]

All I want from a subscription model is reasonable pricing, and no charges when I do not use app or use it for few minutes a month.
Also Bohemian got it right with paid periods too, when I stop paying I still can use versions that were released when I was paying.

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