FeedDemon recently got bought out by NewsGator. Old news, certainly in this fast-paced world of hourly RSS updates but NewsGator announced the other day that all their software products would be moving to a subscription model.
This is a mistake, maybe not from a business perspective but certainly one from the point of view of customer relations. NewsGator's CEO attempts to explain here why you, the customer, are in fact better off under the new pricing scheme. But he misses one key issue:
People hate subscriptions.
Look at this post from one self-described passionate user of FeedDemon:
It’s just not fun for me anymore. It doesn’t feel like it’s mine. It feels “rented". I don’t like that. I also don’t like that I need to continually upgrade and my purchased copy will be broken at some point because it will go to the subscription format.
I feel like everyone wants a subscription-type of yearly fee out of my pocket and it’s getting really annoying, not to mention quite costly. I’m sure others don’t mind, but I’m having an awful time supporting this model.
Some people have complained that Awasu also uses subscription-based pricing but that's a misunderstanding. If you purchase a copy of Awasu, it will continue to work regardless. It won't mysteriously stop working. You won't lose access to your data. What you get when you pay the annual fee is access to new versions of Awasu as they come out. You automatically get twelve months of these as part of your initial purchase and if, and only if, you like Awasu enough to want to keep receiving new versions, you can pay a bit more to get them. So, the pressure is on us to keep improving the product, otherwise people won't bother renewing. And if you decide to switch to another reader or decide you're happy with the version you've got, the software you have will always continue to work. It's yours. It's not rented. What happens is up to you.
So you might be ten bucks better off after two years under FeedDemon's new subscription model? Big deal. People don't use logic and reason exclusively when making decisions, even if they think they are. NewsGator's investors may like it but is it worth pissing off your customers for it? Things like this always happen when a company is bought out but it's still sad to see, even if they are a competitor :-). Nick Bradbury is a smart guy and like us, has always had a good and close relationship with his customers so I suspect he may be putting on a brave face about it all. But it's not about "owning your data," that is just so self-evident that it wouldn't occur to most people that it could even be any other way. Like most things, computer software is something you buy and then own.
UPDATE: So it looks like Nick and the guys at NewsGator have changed their minds and ditched their plans to go to subscription-based pricing for FeedDemon. Good on them for actually listening to their customers. Could this be a start of a trend in the software industry? One can only hope so
Of course, we were expecting a flood of disgruntled ex-FeedDemon users banging on our door that may not be coming any more but that's OK. We'll get 'em some other way