Another Great App Went Subscription Only and Everything Is Terrible

Image: Ulysses

I blame Adobe for this. Ulysses, one of the best writing tools available right now, is going subscription only. If you previously purchased Ulysses for Mac or iOS (it works seamlessly across Macs, iPhones, and iPads) you are now going to have to pony up $5 a month or $40 a year in order to enjoy any new features the development team might roll out for the software.

And again, I blame Adobe for this, because it taught software developers that they can put their clients over a barrel—royally screwing early adopters by having them pay repeatedly for product.

Back in 2013 Adobe moved its most valuable software, including Photoshop, Illustrator, and Premiere, to a subscription only model. If you want to use the industry standard software Adobe creates you have to throw down $10 to $50 a month. It’s been a sore point for many a computer user who still remembers the halcyon days when purchasing software meant you, essentially, owned it.

Since then many apps have moved to this new model—often promising cool updates as a “reward” for being a subscriber. Quicken, Autodesk, Adobe, and even more niche companies now like Ulysses, are moving towards this model and there’s no sign of them stopping any time soon.

Ulysses is developed by a small publisher called Soulmen, and it’s co-founder, Max Seelman, took to Medium on Friday to defend his company’s decision. “Our users expect a continuously evolving high quality product — and subscription is the only way we can truly deliver on that expectation,” he said in his post.

Seelman went on to explain how software development has shifted dramatically since Soulmen first launched Ulysses.

Software purchases used to be very different from how they are today. Until not too long ago, you would purchase an application and get a physical copy on a bunch of floppies (or later a CD). The thing you got — that was it. No patches, no updates. Developers had to put forward an extreme amount of…

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