Hello kz and Captain Quirk,
I wouldn’t be quite so empathic, but I wish it was so simple…
I’m not going to make really long post about this, although I could. But there are many issues that need to be thought out, and then implemented in code and described in text. This means we need to spend time on it. This means we need to spend money on it.
– You don’t really want a one-off purchase. If we fix a bug, that’s important to you the month after, you want a free upgrade. How long should free upgrades be included? After this time, how should the upgrade offer look like? If we implement a new feature, you might also want to upgrade. Should we separate bug-fix-releases and so-called feature-releases? You know the major / minor update “scam” many software companies with the license model use… “We need more revenue, let’s increase the major version digit and make people pay again…” – Parallels is a good example of this. They also make it mandatory by tying the software to a given version of Mac OS X, so if you upgrade the OS, you must update Parallels.
– You may not want our server features, but you do want us to maintain the application. Should we offer an optional maintenance subscription?
– Should we have a trial mode? Should we discontinue the free version, and just have one-off or subscription? Should we discontinue the subscription model entirely? How do we handle all the current subscriptions when they expire? Do we need to refund those that have subscribed for years, or just offer a free transfer to a perpetual license? Should they just be left out and have to purchase a one-off?
– How should the license be delivered, and using what technology? How hard do we need to make it thwart cheaters? Remember, it’s an open source product… Can we depend on the Internet for license delivery? If not, how do we implement license entry in an air gapped situation?
– Sometimes it does not work as you want or think it should. Should free support be included in the one-off? Should we offer an optional support plan?
– If you change your mind, and want a subscription instead, because you find we actually have something you want. How should that upgrade / transfer look like? The reverse is of course also possible, you want to stop subscribing but purchase the one-off. How should that offer and transfer look like?
– Should the one-off be valid for all your devices? One, two? For the mobile apps? If not, they too need to implement all this. The soon to come Mac version? Should we have bundles?
– How do we explain all of the above to you and the other users? How do we provide information so you can make an informed decision about going with the Free, with the Premium subscription, or with the purchased License? What languages do we need to support this information in? Every text change in the software currently triggers about 10 translations, every text change on the content web about 2-3 translations.
All of the above, once decided, actually leads to a number of non-trivial development tasks that need programmer time to be allocated, change and addition to documentation and lots of updates and additions to the content web site. Time and money that would then be spent on this rather than making the application more stable and even greater with more awesome features, capabilities, and platform support.
I wish it was as simple as just saying:
“Yeah, let’s offer a one-off price without server access @ €40. Done. Now everyone is happy.”
But it’s not.
Now we have a fairly simple model: We offer a very useful and complete utility at the one-off price of zero. We also have a simple, easy to understand and predictable subscription at the approximate half cost of what comparable commercial alternatives cost with the license model (and these competitors also charge for updates at various points in time etc).
Believe it or not – this is the short post on this question. In reality it’s much more complicated.
All this being said, if we do get time/resources available and figure out a way to answer all of the above and more with good and well-defined answers, we may indeed offer something in the future.