Let’s talk software subscriptions.
It’s 2019 and we all know that software subscriptions have become a thing, with Adobe’s Creative Cloud being one of the first well-known and widespread application suites to move to a charge-by-the-month model.
Like it or not, subscriptions are are and aren’t going away anytime soon. With the subscription and your ongoing payment, you’ll get new versions of the software, generally released frequently, and almost always released more often than with traditional applications that only update every year or two.
In theory, the ongoing and somewhat-predictable revenue for a company with subscription software means they have a more stable financial position for ongoing development.
Subscription Software has a Multiplication Problem
The cost of subscribing to an application generally isn’t too bad. Some applications might only be a couple dollars per month, or even if they’re quite substantial we’re still usually talking less than $10 or maybe $20 at the high end of the range.
Subscribing to one application isn’t the issue. The challenge is that none of us live in a world where we only use a single application. As we look at one application here… another there… and a couple more as well…. those monthly (or yearly) costs start to add up. Three, five, or ten dollars a month isn’t bad when it’s a single charge… but if we start adding up many applications at that price, we eventually end up with a hefty bill that far exceeds the “but it’s about the price of a cup of coffee” threshold we seem to hear so much about.
Many Applications, One Subscription
While there might be others tackling this with similar solutions, the one company I know that’s attempting to reign in some of the subscription craziness is Setapp.
Setapp is a partner, while they haven’t paid me to write this, if you sign up using my referral link I get a small commission.
Setapp’s process is straightforward: you pay them a single monthly fee of $9.991, and you get access to use any of the applications that are part of the Setapp service. Whether you use one application or all 153 that are currently offered as part the service, it’s a single fee. They seem to be adding new applications roughly every week, although their fee hasn’t gone up.
So…. Setapp’s fee for access to any number of these applications is the same fee that Adobe charges for access to Lightroom and Photoshop (their $9.99 “Photography Plan”).
Is Setapp Worth It? Are the Apps Any Good?
With 153 applications being available via Setapp today, I was initially skeptical in wondering if there were good applications there, or if it was just a clearing house for a bunch of subpar apps that would otherwise go unnoticed.
Thankfully, many of the apps in Setapp are really good. Like… folks pay good money for them as standalone apps as well. Here are some of the biggest names that you get to use as part of a Setapp subscription (we’ll look at photo-specific ones in a moment):
- Ulysses (I’m writing this article in it right now!)
- PDFPen (manage and edit PDFs)
- MindNode (create full-featured mind maps)
- TaskPaper (simple task management using text files)
- iStatMenus (track your computer’s performance)
- BusyCal (great calendar management application)
But… what about photography? There are several apps on Setapp that cross into our world. Here’s a screenshot of everything in their “Creativity” category.
I’d like to call out a few specifically:
- Luminar Flex, a powerful editing plugin that works with apps such as Photoshop and Apple Photos.
- Flume, allowing you a full Instagram experience (including posting) from your Mac
- FotoMagico, the gold standard in creating photo slideshows tied in with music and effects.
- TouchRetoruch, offering easy retouching without the heavy overhead of some applications.
- Capto, an easy to use program for creating and editing screencasts.
The concept is solid: instead of paying for each piece of software individually, a single Setapp subscription gets you a bunch of quality software. The price isn’t bad if you use multiple applications… I’m using about a half dozen regularly. The (approximately) $10/month is well worth it for the value I get in being able to manage my photos, writing, and other work.
Setapp is currently Mac-only, so unfortunate this doesn’t help those of you on Windows, but I wanted to highlight it as one take on the world of software subscriptions. I’m not sure if the Windows world has a similar robust indie app ecosystem, but if it does it seems like this could be a feasible venture for Setapp or someone else there as well.
Head over and check out Setapp, learn more, or start a free trial.
- It’s a bit cheaper if you pay annually, and if you want a family license, that’s an option as well. ↩