One of my daily news reads is Slashdot, news for nerds. The site reguarly has topics of “Ask Slashdot”, which asks the reader base to weigh in on a topic. As I’ve made no secret, I’m of the prejudice that the comments section of all sites, including those that are all comments, like reddit, are filled with garbage.
Today, they ran one:
Which the question itself is loaded. Who is going to answer, “Oh yes, I like anything that can be described as ‘forced’,”
However, for me, this question was timely. I have been using Ulysses for years. I organize all of my work on my podcast with Ulysses and I have typed up most of my posts here, and I’ve even drafted up longer email messages in Ulysses, despite my mail program having a drafts feature like every other email program in existence. In August of last year, Ulysses switched to a paid subscription. Previously it was $25 for iOS and $45 for MacOS, both of which I had happily purchased.
Some people were not happy:
And others were celebratory: Why Ulysses subscription pricing is good for the App Store (Opinion)
I spent some time thinking about the Ulysses pitch of the cost of “a cup of coffee a month”, and said, “I use this app frequently, so why would I not want to support the developers?” If you read the two other pieces, there are two problems. The first is that in the Apple ecosystem, if a developer uses Apple’s App Store, in order for a developer to receive revenue from their work beyond the initial offering is to either run a subscription model or to release an entirely new “app” on the store that may just be a slightly newer edition of the original app and tell users about it. The second route, everyone hates. Unless that version 2 or version 3 app is released and carries substantial improvements, all users will hate the developer a bit.
The first route is something that is good for the developer, although tricky to later transition to, but bad for software in general. Ulysses is one of a handful of reasons that have kept me from leaving the Apple world to embrace the less polished and sometimes more frustrating world of open source software on my personal devices. Ulysses switching to a less free and open model is a single, but large, nail in that coffin.
The second problem that you’ll find in those other two pieces is this: how is the company that makes Ulysses supposed to continue develop their software and pay their employees without a subscription model?
I made the decision a few months ago to continue to support Ulysses through a subscription, because I really enjoy their product. But then I’ve been thinking - uh, how they pay their people really isn’t my problem, they sold me a fully functioning product as is, and now if I want to see any further development on it, it’s going to cost me money. Development that I don’t care or want. Ulysses has had all of the features that I want out of the product and had for, at least, a year before it switched to the subscription model.
In the coming up on six months since they made that change I have received no additional benefit or features during my subscription period. There is six more months to go, and at the end of that, if I don’t see somewhere even remotely close to $40 of value, I’ll drop it, and happily so.
Ulysses has two big benefits for me - a nice clean interface and the ability to organize things in a way that makes sense to me. I’m already beginning to set stuff up in the Finder (that comes with every Mac) in a way that organizes things logically to me, and I’m writing this in Byword, a older app that I really hope sees some polish, but is just as friendly to write in.
I’ve watched quite a few videos for iA Writer and I’ll probably be sending them some money for their software come August. It’ll be sad to see Ulysses go, but if that company asks me for $40 a year but cannot add $40 of value a year, then there are plenty of editors that can.