“Another subscription!?” you say as you try and download another piece of software and try to remember how many monthly subscription fees you paid for this month. They all seem to add up Netflix, Spotify, Amazon Prime, newspapers and this is before you add the yearly subscriptions for software packages that can run into the hundreds. Increasingly apps and software we rely on use a subscription-based model for payment rather a simple one-off payment, this can take the form of monthly, quarterly or yearly payments for the continued use of the software. This has led to a growing frustration with users over what is being called “subscription affliction”.
This is an issue for both businesses and customers and while at time it may seem like a cheap cash grab, a way to milk customers dry, and in the case of some apps and companies it probably is, but there is a good reason for using a subscription model in general. When people download a software package like photoshop they don’t own it really, they rent it. That might not sit well with many people, I know the idea of paying a one-off fee for a product sounds better but remember with ownership comes maintenance. Here lies the crux of the problem, software develops and changes so fast these days that new bugs constantly form and while some of these updates frequent updates may seem tedious if no updates are implemented after a while the software will become more glitch from bugs or simply not work. Now as much as we hope developers will keep working and updating the code on their own, they can’t work for free. So quite simply these subscription fees are to keep the product running. While monthly or yearly fees are the most common some apps have offered special deals offering three updates if a subscription seems like too much of a commitment.
So while this avalanche of subscriptions may seem overwhelming they’re necessary for the sake of maintenance and business sustainability. Customers continued use of this model ensures that many talented and creative developers remain in the job.