Why Ulysses subscription pricing is good for the App Store [Opinion]

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Ulysses subscriptions hero
Not all apps should use subscriptions, but for some, it’s the best choice.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac
  • morbius

    I have Ulysses, but have not really used it, much or at all. Looks like I lost some money here.

    • The Cappy

      Well, you lost money by buying an app you never used, I guess. It going to subscription didn’t change that loss. From the article: “If you do switch over to the subscription version (and you don’t have to — you can keep using the app you already purchased), the app will import all your existing documents at launch, in the background.” Note the bit in parentheses.

      • morbius

        Thanks, I missed that I can still use it. Ulysses is among the myriad of apps I have, many purchased, that I haven’t had the chance to explore yet. My first boot up of it showed me I’d have to spend a good deal of time getting to understand it, so I put it aside until that time presented itself. It is not an intuitive app by any means.

  • tr00don

    What the bleep is a “writing app”?

    • The Cappy

      You seriously asked that question?

  • Jamie Redmond

    ““70% or so purchased before the grace period ended,” Seelemann told us. “That’s a huge number of potential adopters.” To make that clear, 70 percent of the people who have previously paid for Ulysses have already signed up for a subscription, even if they have months left where they could have used it free. ”

    No. They were tricked into giving up their free period by the misleading wording on that screen.

  • elgarak

    As a user, I don’t like subscriptions. But I understand why developers of a certain type of software prefer it. So it’s not the subscription per se.

    It’s the price point. Ulysses was never cheap. The fixed prices of $45/$25 (Mac/iOS) was already quite high compared to other, similar software packages – but I paid it, because I liked the software – and it was a one time payment.

    The subscription pricing, however, is way too high for what Ulysses offers, compared to competing packages. In fact, I wouldn’t even use a trial as a new user seeing these price points. And Ulysses has done little to justify this high of a price point. There were few updates before, some features (that competing software has) were complained, but never addressed, the subscription version is identical to the current non-subscription version. And new features are, so far, not announced. So, what do I pay the subscription for, exactly, given that the recent updates were mere bug-fixes with no actual feature additions? I might add that the implied expectation – “Users expect constant improvement” – is simply not true. In particular for writing tools like Ulysses, a lot of people only expect to get a set of features, and want just this set of features – unless a killer feature is developed, at which time a paid upgrade that users may or not may do (depending if they like said feature or not) is justified. In the meantime, bug-fixes are enough, and most developers get by for bug fixes just fine with the one-time payment up front for that.

    In addition to that, the roll-out of the subscription was, said politely, rather insensitively done. By nag-screens overlays, with no previous announcement, done from one day to the next. There was inexact misleading wording with regards to the actual costs for existing users. The rebates for existing users, and educational discounts, are shockingly low.

    Fortunately, I never went full Ulysses as my main writing tool. It WAS nice, clean, and elegant – but forced a library arrangement on me, including default storage locations, I disagreed with. There were workarounds, but there were inelegant.

    Ulysses has lost me as a user. There are tools as good as it, and better ones, for less money.

  • The subscription model is something we need to get used to as users. I think Max and the team did a great job with the transition. Their model is well thought and they avoided mistakes others (like Smile and Agile) made before. Also they offered insights about finding their decision and why they think this is the right way. Transparency and openess builds trust.

    The haters will always hate and they will probably be fine with some other apps. I think what you end up with after such a (successful) transition is a higher quality consumer base.

    • Amcmo

      A higher quality cx base after foisting a sub model, get real. Sounds like trying to convince yourself you made the right decision.

      This higher quality user is now firmly off the Ulysses cx base.

  • remserwis

    Subscription model is perfect…but pricing should be correct.
    If I have to pay 9.99$/month for Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom saving a thousand with a regular buy I love the idea. 1$ for 50GB iCloud, 3.99 for Plex Pass… I pay with a smile on my face.

    Maybe I don’t recognize complexity of Ulysses but I think that 1.99/month could bring them few times more users so the revenue would be the same or higher.

    • Amcmo

      At 1.99 a month that would have to have many, many times more users. There’s an only saying in sales that a 5% discount requires almost twice as many customers to make the same profit.

  • Amcmo

    Well wasn’t that just a plug for Ulysses. Their 50% discount isn’t, and as a user and previous promoter of Ulysses I accidentally ended up ‘subscribed’ when I thought I was downloading the final update to the paid version their press release mentioned.

    I for one have abandoned Ulysses after this money grab that has you buying a completely new version every year if you only use one version of iOS or Mac, or every two years if you use both.

    Instead of using Ulysses for blog posts, I use MarsEdit, and for novel and non fiction writing, Scrivener, who’s developers have said they intend to stay way from subscription.

    So while I, like many others may have been duped into accidentally signing into subscription, Ulysses already lies unused.

    Soulmen, this is one customer you have lost.

  • Nigel Fletcher-Jones

    I find the statistics and comments from Mr Seeleman very improbable given what has been a PR disaster for Ulysses, and “On the contrary, it seems more like they were waiting for an opportunity to support a product they use and love.” Really?