Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Linea Sketch 3

Ged Maheux (tweet):

Linea’s new Time-Lapse feature keeps a running record of your drawing while you work. When you’ve finished drawing, save a video of the result as either a compressed 30 second clip or a full length movie.


When you draw a line and pause to create a ZipLine, you can now place a single finger anywhere on the canvas to snap the end point of the line to isometric and oblique angles. It’s great for technical drawing or those who want perfectly angled strokes.


Today’s release changes Linea to a subscription model. We’ve received a great deal of feedback on our original plan and have removed limits on canvas creation. Instead, we’ll be using less restrictive reminders and badging. […] Lastly, if you purchased Linea Sketch in 2019 or later, your first year is free.

It now works on iPhones, too. People are not happy about the switch to subscription.


Update (2020-04-15): John Voorhees:

This is one of the mildest reactions I’ve seen to a paid-up-front app converting to subscription. Yes, there are more 1-star reviews, but the reaction on Twitter has been mild. The Iconfactory did a good job by announcing the switch in December.

Ged Maheux:

We tried to give users as much notice as possible instead of springing it on them which was a mistake with Twitterrific. In addition we gave anyone who bought it in the last year a free year without reminders. All these things helped I think.

It still leaves a bad taste because, as with Twitterrific, they took away a working app from people who had already paid. Ideally, customers who didn’t want the new version could keep using the old one, without updates, but because of the way the App Store works, the only way to do that would be to read that the new version was coming, turn off auto-updates, manually update every other app, and never get a new phone or restore from backup. Alternatively, Iconfactory could have segmented the available features based on when you purchased, like Fantastical did.

2 Comments RSS · Twitter

Kevin Schumacher

People would be less "not happy" if their prior purchase was not turned into a paperweight.

I get the fact that Apple does not make it easy to provide paid upgrades without doing a subscription model. I get that developers need an ongoing revenue stream if they are to continue to enhance a program for existing customers (the "free upgrades forever" model was clearly never going to work long-term).

I don't get forcing an upgrade on existing customers, by using the same listing in the App Store, then removing existing features unless they subscribe. This is precisely what Apple tells you not to do when transitioning an existing app to a subscription model and is boneheaded moves 101. For as much issue as I take with Fantastical 3 and their absurdly expensive subscription pricing, they at least put in the effort so everyone's existing app kept working exactly as it had. Not doing so is either laziness, shortsightedness, or greed. But turning around and subsequently begging for five-star reviews on Twitter to counteract those that are very rightly "not happy" is just disgusting.

From their support article about this debacle:
> To support the cost of building their apps, developers utilized unlock codes that could be purchased by mail or over the telephone. If you didn't have a code, the software may refuse to run after a limited time, restrict access to some features entirely, or impose inconvenient interruptions.

Funnily enough, the one thing that existing software didn't do once you purchased an unlock code was stop working or lose access to existing features because the developer released a new version, which is precisely what is happening here.

They're similarly tone-deaf about it on Twitter. To a user asking why the software they previously paid for no longer performs the functions it did at the time he purchased it, they responded:
> We never promised you would receive free updates for the app for your lifetime.

As for where v2 went:
> Version 1 and 2 became 3 which is the way it’s been since we launched. We’ve had 3 years of free updates and now it’s time for help support development again.

What I'm hearing is that they want people to retroactively support those three years by paying again for software they already paid for.

From their blog post about the change in December:
> In our opinion, leaving an old version of the app to die on the App Store is irresponsible. It is very likely that future changes to the operating system will break the ability to export your existing sketches entirely. If and when that happens, all of your valuable work would forever be lost. The only way for us to continuously preserve access to your work is for us to keep the app up to date as best we can. To be able to afford to do that, we need your support.

Sure, and it had nothing to do with demanding their existing customers, who already paid them, pay them again to regain access to what they already paid for.

So many ways they could have handled this correctly:
They could have stopped sales of the previous SKU and launched v3 under a new SKU, notifying existing customers that v3 has been released and v2 might stop working with a future OS update.
They could have done exactly what they did (go free with a subscription required for no ads, no watermarks), but put that "no ads, no watermarks" into a v2 IAP, granted it to existing customers, and added v3's new functionality as a subscription unlock or one-time v3 IAP.
They could have tried understanding why people are upset instead of being very dismissive, responding with unrelated straw man arguments, sniping at them in review responses, begging for good reviews to counteract peoples' legitimate complaints, and generally being completely head-in-the-sand about this.

This is not about people being unwilling to pay for good software. This is about a series of terrible decisions that culminated in people who did pay for good software getting screwed.

Not a “down with subscriptions” guy by any stretch, as I pay for several and Setapp too, but Linea’s transition to subscription might be the worst I’ve ever seen. The comment above lays it out nicely. I prefer Sketchbook and Procreate by miles and didn’t think much of Linea Sketch when I tried it, so this doesn’t hurt me any, but I’ll certainly avoid investing my workflow in any Iconfactory software in the future. Subscriptions are a matter of course, but this is not how you treat people who bought in for the price you were charging before your circumstances changed. And the contempt (and begging for five star reviews) in response is an awful look.

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