Subscription Overload

To be honest, I am already subscribed to too many services. I have been trying to cut back on this ever growing list of subscriptions and reevaluate my workflows for quite some time now. Strangely, I find more value these days in unsubscribing from services and replacing them in favor of a simpler solution. That doesn't happen simply out of financial reasons. Every additional subscription adds its quantum of general stress to my system.

Remember that gym membership you signed up for but never went? Or those unused Audible credits you accumulated last year? How do you feel about these?

There is something implicit about subscriptions that has the subscriber eventually overpay. For a lot of my subscriptions, the value I got from the product, didn't keep up with the money I spent over time. As most people don't keep an organized budget, the net result of more subscriptions is an increase in financial burden and liabilities.

Subscriptions tend to be sticky. While it's easy to subscribe, it is somehow harder to unsubscribe.

With the expected changes to the App Store whereby any app1 will supposedly be able to implement subscription pricing, it's possible that we'll see more developers try to jump on the subscription train as sustainable development is a struggle.

From the viewpoint of developers, why not have recurring income for ongoing development? I believe that great software has to have its price, but I am uncomfortable with the prospect of app developers moving at scale to subscription models. Will subscriptions bring a change to the hesitation people have in paying for software? I do pay for the tools I use, but a subscription makes me think twice about whether I really want to continue with a service.With the recent debate around TextExpander 6, it appears as if I am not alone in my doubts about app subscriptions.

In the end, a service is just a service and an app is just an app. Hardly any software solution is so vital that it couldn't be replaced by or integrated into a simpler framework.

Switching task managers, email clients, calendar apps, text editors and podcast clients has hardly ever made me more productive. If anything, it has been a time sink for a procrastinating nerd. Subscriptions in apps will probably increase the temptations to toy around with software and make it more difficult to resist the allure of app marketing. Does this help me in getting things done?

One could argue that the option of free trials makes it easier to settle on solutions that best suit your needs. But perhaps, instead of opting in, it may be better to opt out.

Within recent months, I have moved away from Evernote which has been the backbone of my paperless office for years. I unsubscribed from Adobe Creative Cloud and unified my image handling in iCloud Photo Library. I have cancelled several news media subscriptions (print and digital) in favor of blogs and indie publishers. I also deleted a whole bunch of apps. This has given me more clarity about my tools and their strengths, even though I may be missing out on the latest and greatest updates.

There are still several redundancies in my system, but I intend to make it even more consolidated and unified. I am willing to make compromises on features if it is for a simpler, less sticky and more streamlined overall solution. For this, I will probably not follow down the subscription route.

  1. Any app? ↩︎