Monday, January 15, 2018

Agenda’s Feature Unlocking Business Model

Drew McCormack (tweet):

I’ll no doubt have more to tell about Agenda itself after the launch, but right now, I wanted to introduce the sales model we have settled on, because it is quite unique.


The app itself is free, with no time limits, but there are extra premium features that require an In App Purchase (IAP) to unlock. When an upgrade pack is purchased, all current features are permanently unlocked across all of the user’s Macs (…and iOS devices, when the iOS app becomes available). In addition, any features added to Agenda in the twelve months following the purchase are included, and permanently unlocked as well.

Only after the twelve month pack has expired can new premium features begin to appear that require a new purchase. The user can choose to buy a new pack, unlocking twelve more months of new features, or be content with what they already have until features are added which tempt them to purchase again.


Agenda’s sales model is inspired by Framer and Sketch, but there is a fundamental difference — we never leave a customer behind. We felt it was important to always be able to offer customers the latest build of Agenda, so that they get all of the bug fixes, even if they haven’t paid or their year of features is up. For this reason, cash cow is about unlocking features, rather than unlocking updates.



Also interesting is that you can pre-order the app (for $0) so you don’t forget to try it when it’s released.

Previously: App Subscriptions, New Sketch 4.0 Licensing Model, App Store Introductory Pricing.

5 Comments RSS · Twitter

> There’s the potential for the code and testing to get unwieldy over time, as the app essentially contains multiple separate apps with different feature sets.

One aspect to consider is that some of those paid features would become part of the free features at some point. You also don't want dozens of such locked features popping up all over the place as you use the initial free app.

Alex here from Agenda, thanks for picking up Drew's post!

> There’s (presumably) no way to trial the premium features.

Yes, and no, or kind of. We have indeed been thinking of adding ways to trial (not in the app currently). One could think of allowing the user to use the feature X times before it would require the premium pack, for example part of the premium feature set (currently, see charles's remark) is the ability to save a search in the sidebar where it will act as a kind of smart collection. You could allow the user to allow to create X of them before requiring the purchase. This is then very much presented to the user in the context of "you can try it x times". A simpler, alternative way of using the same technique but presented differently is for example what we plan to do with support for attachments. In the free version you could add a single attachment to a note (covering most cases) while as part of the premium features would come the ability to add multiple attachments to a single note. The premium feature would be "support for multiple attachments" in that case.
Just to show there are still a lot of variations and possibilities within the theme of premium features.

Mo Bitar is doing something similar with Standard Notes, which I'm giving a try. Basic text notes and sync are free, as are the apps. Extensions and themes require the subscription.

It looks like this model will work fine for few years, and then they might find a good transition option.
So far this is the best model from user perspective.

Leave a Comment