Nickel And Dimed Out Of Tech

Apple held their iPhone and Apple Watch event yesterday, and I have to say I was underwhelmed. Not by the technology, which was impressive, but at the growing gap between “wow factor” and price in Apple’s lineup. I still have an iPhone 6S Plus, and I love it. The phone works and it’s fast enough for what I need. Even more important, it’s paid off. I’m not shelling out money to my carrier every month to pay off the phone. I don’t have any desire to use FaceID, I find Augmented Reality to be yawn inducing, and I’m trying to not use my phone 24/7 – so why would I want a screen that makes me want to stare at it all day? Dual cameras, which are the one feature I’ve found interesting in every flagship iPhone since the 7, aren’t on the one new phone which might fit in my budget. I can’t stay on this treadmill.

I also have an Apple Watch, but it sits on my nightstand as an alarm clock. It was fun to wear for a while, but the series 1 is way underpowered. And it’s another piece of hardware that needs to be upgraded every few years. I’ve got enough of those, already thanks.

Rubbing salt in this wound, however, are the reports that Apple is encouraging developers to move to a subscription model. This news makes me want to scream, “Enough! I can’t afford this any more!”

Proponents of the subscription model will highlight how subscriptions bring in a more steady revenue stream to developers, and are inexpensive for the value given. These are points well taken. I’m on the Adobe Photography plan for $9.99 a month and get both Lightroom and Photoshop, it’s a pretty good value. And if that was the only subscription I was on it would be fine, but it’s not the only subscription I’m on. I also have subscriptions for cloud storage, VPN, backup, and digital security. I used to use CleanMyMac but they’ve gone to a subscription model as well, so when my current version stops working my choices will be “subscribe or stop using the software.” I used to ponder purchasing Ulysses for the excellent ebooks it produces. But it’s also gone subscription, which means if I’d switched to it as my writing environment my content would be a hostage of my subscription. I love 1 Password, but they’re making it next to impossible to purchase the app any more, pushing people to subscribe in order to keep access to their secure data. In each of these cases deciding to continue a subscription or not isn’t a real choice. It’s more like a hostage who is forced to pay their kidnappers as a way of saying, “Thank you” for holding them.

These subscriptions, many of which have to be paid up front for the whole year, add up to some significant cash per month. With the number of developers moving to this model increasing all the time that cost per month is going to keep going up. And this is on top of any entertainment subscriptions people have, the number of which is also going up 1.

It used to be there was a high bar of entry if you wanted to buy in to professional tools. Software like Photoshop, Final Cut Studio, Adobe After Effects, and Maya 3d had premium price tags. You purchased the software, and used it until you really needed to upgrade, for which you still paid a premium price. Now the initial bar of entry is low, but the cost of staying in is huge. I worry what impact this will have on the way we use software, moving forward.


  1. Want to watch Star Trek: Discovery? Here’s CBS All Access. Do you desire to watch the new Star Wars TV series? Get ready to pay for Disney’s streaming service. Want to watch Teen Titans? DC has a new service just for you! It’s getting to be ridiculous. 

3 Thoughts

    1. I’d be depressed. I also might drop half our streaming subscriptions. I wish I could just do youtube tv – since it’s the one I like the best.

  1. YES. Just take Microsoft Office–if not for teaching and having access to the programs for free, there’s no way I could afford it. Why let people buy a product when you can just give them keys to the product instead? Only the keys are on a zip string so they can be yanked out of the hand at any time.
    Ugh.

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