Thursday, October 15, 2020

Deliveries Switches to Subscription

Ryan Christoffel:

Deliveries, the package tracking app for iOS and Mac, has received a strong update today with a wide variety of quality of life improvements. There’s nothing huge or flashy here, but the sum of the many small changes should help Deliveries continue being one of the best and easiest ways to track that steady stream of packages heading your way.

Joe Rossignol:

A subscription will unlock all features of the app across the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch, with pricing to be set at 99 cents per month or $4.99 per year through the App Store.

Deliveries until now has been a one-time purchase, with iOS and macOS versions of the app each costing $4.99.


For those who purchased Deliveries before subscriptions were available, most of the features from earlier versions are included without a subscription. You will need a subscription to sync with Junecloud, and for new features we add in the future.

You’ll get a complimentary subscription for up to 18 months from the date you purchased the app. If you bought the app more than 18 months ago, your complimentary subscription will end February 1, 2021.

iCloud sync is free, however.


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That seems like a good yearly price for a small utility app, if it ensures future development. I wish more apps went for such prices instead of trying to offset the inevitable loss of customers with crazy high prices.

Good riddance. I used Deliveries for a year and it's terrible. So many bugs, and the dev doesn't really respond much to support requests. Plus it only supports a very few of the global postal and shipping services. Too many times I went to enter a tracking number and Deliveries couldn't track it. I really don't understand why this app gets recommended so much.

I finally settled on the Parcel app which is SO much better (by developer Ivan Pavlov) -- in addition to supporting every tracking service I've ever entered into it, it also does automatic tracking between countries. I'm in Japan, so if I order something from the US and it's shipped via the USPS (for example), Parcel will also silently check in the background for arrival info through Japan Post and automatically alert me of new activity and offer to switch the tracking to Japan Post for the remainder of the trip. I also think the Parcel UI is much nicer, cleaner, and more intuitive than Deliveries. Highly recommended.

@Ben G: Agreed, Parcel is much nicer. Very glad I found it before Deliveries switched to subscriptions and I felt I needed to subscribe.

@Peter: $4.99 to support 5 platforms is "a good yearly price"? That'd be cheap even for 90's shareware that only had to support one (much simpler) platform.

Customers hate subscriptions. Customers can only afford something like a dozen subscriptions a year. A customer might subscribe, kicking and screaming, to an Apple, Adobe, Amazon, Microsoft service.

They are not subscribing to your app. Even if they wanted to, they have to pay rent to those FAANG type services. Your app is going away. The subscription model is unsustainable.

It's been an interesting couple of years watching an entire industry sprint toward the spinning propeller blades.

Old Unix Geek

It's been an interesting couple of years watching an entire industry sprint toward the spinning propeller blades.

Devs are between a rock and a hard place.

You're right, customers hate subscriptions. I certainly avoid them like the plague.

Apple keeps "upgrading" its OS, and breaking things. It even prevents devs from telling their customers about said bugs. Apple gives devs the choice to use subscriptions, or to eat the cost of developing work arounds for Apple's "upgrades". And Apple encourages devs to use subscriptions by cutting their take in the second year. Since acquiring new customers costs more than recurring customers, that makes a lot of sense.

$4.99 is the price people pay for a cup of coffee. But it's too much for a year of service. What's a dev to do?

Your app is going away.

It seems to me that the structure of the App Store market does not encourage the creation and maintenance of useful programs like utilities which must pay their way. Instead the market structure encourages devs to work on apps which are addictive (thereby making money off consumables like Fortnite), or are viral novelties which people show off to their friends. It's even better for them if they can attract VC money, which usually involves selling user "attention" and "data". This is a result of customers' and Apple's priorities. I think it's a shame, but there's not much point fighting a lost cause.

What a bummer that Apple simply won’t introduce a standard upgrade pricing model to the App Store.

You mention that iCloud sync is free.

Here is an App Store review guideline:

3.2.2 Unacceptable

(ii) Monetizing built-in capabilities provided by the hardware or operating system, such as Push Notifications, the camera, or the gyroscope; or Apple services, such as Apple Music access or iCloud storage.

This seems to forbid making iCloud sync a paid feature. I see this guideline done a lot though. The popular note taking app Bear makes sync a paid feature for example.

What a bummer that Apple simply won’t introduce a standard upgrade pricing model to the App Store.

Upgrade pricing wouldn’t work to sustainably operate their Junecloud service, FWIW.

But, yeah, in my case, upgrade pricing would make more sense: I have purchased Deliveries before, so I get their iCloud sync and most other features for free (there’s a vague suggestion of new features coming in 18 months). Viewing orders on my Mac and my iPhone seems like… plenty? So now they don’t get any of my money, when I would’ve gladly given them a one-time payment after so many years. Which also means Apple doesn’t get a 30% cut of that hypothetical payment either. Lose-lose.

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