Features Subscriptioned into Services Are Bad For You

Software publishers have been struggling with a problem for many years now.  We all know about it, and hate to talk about it. It is when the previous or current version of your product becomes the worst competitor for the next version you want to release. What you have right now (or even in a previous version) fulfills all the basic needs of your customers; your customers are so satisfied that they feel little compunction to upgrade.  Combine this with a growing domination in your market space, and suddenly you find yourself with far more upgrade customers than new customers, and a lot of those upgrade customers may want to skip an upgrade or two.

Some companies bloat out their products with unnecessary new features, gimmicks and built in services. They need to convince you that its worth upgrading.

Other companies restructure what features appear in each level of their product. They want to get customers that can afford to pay more to actually pay more.

And then there are others that want to transform their software into a combination of services, content subscriptions and tweaks, so its possible to effectively keep charging customers for the same features again and again. They will tell you how this new system adds significant value. It probably does add value. It just isn’t essential to what you need to get done. Its like going to an all-you-can-eat steak restaurant that charges you in 10 minute increments, only to discover you actually only get one tiny steak but a bottomless supply of french fries and ketchup.

Software companies concerns are certainly legitimate. Any release has its costs, and the cost of software engineering without off-shoring in incredibly expensive. There’s a reason why so many game studios go down before they actually reach their release – they are spending it all on very high salaries, not the electric bill.

What many software companies have failed to do is find a way to provide enough of something that customers want to ensure as many as possible upgrade. The answer for the likes of Adobe and Microsoft (and you can be sure others are going this way) to answering the question is to eliminate the conditions of  the question and keep you paying again and again for the same thing, and making the conditions of your use subject to regular updates to your End User License Agreement. Is this really the answer for you?

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