Slowly but surely I am going to rid my life of SaaS!
Being tethered to the Internet? No thanks.
Paying monthly fees to dozens and dozens of companies? No thanks.
I am late to the realisation but it means saying goodbye to TextExpander.
And it is a perfect example of a flawed attempt at forcing its users to SaaS.
It seems they started the push years ago, and I must have ignored it. But TextExpander crashed on me today so I wondered if I need to upgrade for Big Sur compatibility. As a registered user that should be a simple, straight forward process which should take only a few minutes, right?
NOPE. They switched to SaaS and there is no other option.
I tried updating to the SaaS TextExpander version. When I launched it, all of my old TE shortcuts were gone… so it didn’t even bother to check for previous versions. I go to the TextExpander ‘cloud’ account and cannot access anything at all until I finish ‘onboarding’ which demands I answer a series of banal questions, wanting personal info.
What a massive FAIL. I have no loyalty to TextExpander. It is a simple, very useful app. As a concept it is essential and I use it often, but it is not a unique idea and does not provide value worthy of a monthly fee.
Thanks to complaining on Twitter I now have a replacement that costs 1/10th of a yearly TextEpander SaaS subscription and does everything I need: aText
But this conversation nails the issue perfectly:
Q: Curious, as someone in a similar position as Textexpander: Don’t you think TE will be able to provide more, stable updates thanks to the stable income a subscription provides? Selling software is a lot like living under the gun constantly. The sentiment seems to be that people use TE a lot, daily. Why not support the developer(s) behind this service?
A: TextExpander has been around for a long time. I’m using version 5, i.e., the fourth major version upgrade. There’s little or nothing else that needs to be added to the product at this point. They charged an upgrade fee for new major versions. IIRC, it was $19.95 to upgrade from v4 to v5. I didn’t mind paying that, even if the new features were minor (I can’t even remember what they were — and I think I actually upgraded only because v4 wouldn’t work anymore on a newer version of OS X, though my recollection could be wrong).
That’s the life-cycle of software products sold on the traditional model. At some point you need to realize you’ve wrung all the money you can out of upgrades, and if the revenue from new sales and (increasingly rare) major upgrades isn’t enough to live on, well, you better develop some new and different products.
Of course it’s better for you as a developer if you can convince people to pay you $60 per year in perpetuity for your small utility app, rather than just collecting a one-time $30 sale and occasional upgrade fees, but just because that’s your super-dream-fantasy business model doesn’t mean it makes any sense for customers.
From same site, this nails an aspect too: “TextExpander has always been straddling the markets of “casual consumer with $20 to spend on an app that reduces pain” and “professional customer willing to spend $199 to reduce major time costs.” It looks like they’ve decided to focus on their professional customers… I hope that this works out well for them.”
I don’t agree with it but I can understand that as the motivation: they do not care about single users, who contribute very little financially to their business. They actually want me to leave & find another solution, so they can focus on their “professional team” users that generate the most income for their company. OK then, see ya!
Similarly there is much nashing of teeth at VI Forum re Native Instruments + Izotope join forces
via CDM, some backstory as both companies chase venture capital:
“Who is Francisco Partners? The other thing to note here is that Francisco Partners is a big, big player. They’re in San Francisco, London, and New York, and are one of the best-known names in technology investment. They’ve raised $24 billion of capital to date.”
Me: the language used in VC powered corporate press releases is vomit worthy!
Also me: I 100% bet this new thing will be a SaaS subscription venture!
Them: Welcome aspiring musician. We exist to
help you make music make our shareholders rich… We don’t want a lot upfront… drip… drip… drip… In reality our shareholders want a LOT by making you 100% dependent!
SaaS, the opiate addiction of business models
Seth Godin explains the actual core issue far better than I can:
“The public markets can offer a company quite a bit: Cash right now. Liquidity for the future. A currency to help recruiting and retention.
And public companies come with a giant caveat: They are owned by people (the shareholders) who might sell out at any moment. And new ones can take their place in an instant.
This flexible ownership is part of the attraction of the stock market, but it also means that you can’t count on the people and institutions that own your organization taking a long-term view. (Long-term for them might even be a week in the future).
As a result, the others that the organization seeks to serve: The environment, their customers, the employees, the culture… often lose out. Because thanks to Milton Friedman’s mythology, the primacy of the shareholder (the one who drives the stock price, the very stock price that drives management) means that every time these companies seek to serve one of their other constituents, they have to do a sort of dance, explaining to shareholders why, after all, really and truly, what they’re actually doing is serving the shareholders. Not just serving them, serving them right now.
And, thanks to the short-term interests of many people who trade stocks, there’s pressure to own shares that go up the most today, not a company you’re proud to own for the long run.
Sometimes, the enlightened and powerful leadership of a company is able to ignore the whining of the shareholders. If you don’t like where this bus is going, sell!
But over time, that resolve often fades. I saw this first hand at Yahoo. When everyone who works for you and around you is watching the stock price, it’s hard to decide to do the right thing.
If you want to run an organization you’re proud of, choose your ownership as carefully as you choose your employees.”
Handy site worth bookmarking: ALTERNATIVE TO
Crowd sourced software recommendations…