Wednesday, June 12, 2019

GarageSale Pro Subscriptions

Ilja A. Iwas (via tweet):

eBay’s strategy has changed a lot since we first introduced GarageSale in 2004. There are now less private sellers on eBay, which were GarageSale’s original target audience. At the same time the share of professional and semi-professional seller went up.

As a result, we have now less, but more demanding GarageSale users. To keep GarageSale a viable business, we are introducing a dual license model with GarageSale 8:

If you are listing less than 50 items on eBay per month and don’t need the ‘Synching’ feature, you can purchase or upgrade to GarageSale 8 for a one time fee of $39.99 (new license) or $19.99 (upgrade fee). (The upgrade will be free if you purchased your GarageSale 7 license after April 1st, 2018.

If you are listing more than 50 items per month, you’ll need a GarageSale Pro subscription for $14.99/month or $149.99/year[…]

It’s a huge price increase for the pro customers, but—and I guess this is easy for me to say as one of the casual users—it seems reasonable for a specialized professional product like this. If you’re using it to run a store, it’s saving you tons of time each year, and you’re already paying a lot more to other companies.


I am, like many others, not a big fan of software subscription, though. I understand and accept that it can make sense in certain scenarios, but I find it a matter of respect towards clients to offer it as a choice. The moment I feel blackmailed into a subscription, I am out… and my understanding is that I am not alone with this attitude.

Let me repeat: I do understand your needs to change to a more predictable income. Or higher income per license, especially from commercial users. And I would be more than happy to support future development as well as current support by buying a Pro license that is priced higher than the basic or current version of GS, if you give me that choice. Right now, all you offer is: license, but only up to 50 listings per month. That wouldn’t work for me (I am above that level). Or, buy the subscription… which I don’t want. That’s why I feel blackmailed. A piece of software, that I use daily, and love to use, suddenly no longer offers me a license model to feel comfortable with.

That’s why I am an ex-Adobe user, an ex-Ulysses user, an ex-TextExpander user and likely an ex-1Password user soon. I am still a CaptureOne user and an Office 365 subscriber, because those two offer me a choice (and regarding MS Office the subscription made sense in my case… I am not a subscription hater per se).

I think there’s something to this—people who are willing to pay more but feel boxed in by subscriptions—but I’m not sure what the answer is. I assume that the reason subscriptions are usually accompanied by price increases is that a sizable number of customers drop out when that’s the only choice. But if you start with the baseline of a subscription business model and want to let some users opt for a perpetual license, clearly it has to be priced even higher than the yearly subscription or you’ll lose most of the subscribers. Of course, you could skip the subscription option and just raise the price. But then you end up charging the same price for someone who’s only selling 51 items or only during the summer as for someone selling thousands of items throughout a year. It’s hard.

David Smith (tweet):

One of the main reasons I have stayed away from them so far is that there is always something tricky about making subscriptions feel good for customers. One of the reasons so many businesses like them is that you set it up once and then the customer doesn’t have to continue taking action to keep paying you. Which is great as long as the user wants to keep paying you, but super sketchy if they don’t.

There is a concept in user interface design called the Principle of Least Surprise, where you want to design systems in such a way that they surprise their users least. I think a similar concept applies to subscription pricing. The ideal (from a user friendliness perspective, not best business perspective) system for customer subscriptions should never surprise the customer with a charge. The customer should always be happy to see a charge appear on their credit card.

In other words, their subscription payments should always be Intentional.

Joe Cieplinski:

As far as being able to cancel your subscription right from the notification itself is concerned, I think this sounds better on paper than it would be in practice. People don’t read their notifications carefully. I see a ton of people accidentally unsubscribing to apps, then getting super confused when their apps no longer work. This would lead to increased support load for everyone. Tapping on the notification should take you directly to the subscriptions page on the App Store, however.

Previously: Productivity Apps and Subscription Pricing.

Update (2019-08-13): See also Garage Sale 8 subscription price, Grief From Transitioning to Subscriptions.

2 Comments RSS · Twitter

What's his beef with 1Password? Did they recently change their pricing?

The only subscriptions that I have right now are to Carrot Weather ($4/year) and 1Password ($30/year). That seems fair to me for extended weather data (which Carrot has to pay for) and a service which secures my passwords and other sensitive data (and which works on iOS/Mac/Linux/Win). Both apps are updated regularly and have excellent support. The value is obvious. I also subscribe to Apple's iTunes Match and News+ services because again, the value is obvious (the News interface sucks, yeah).

But all of the basic apps that want like $5+ per month, just ... because subscriptions are easy money? ... but don't actually provide much ongoing value or an actual service are crazy. It's more like their rationale is "pay me $8/month for the privilege of using my app". Sorry, no. Your app is worth $8, period. Not $8 every month! And if you put effort into making your app demonstrably better in the future (and not just fixing bugs), then make a version 2.0 and charge me again for it. Earn my business, don't take it for granted.

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