Around 2010, I upgraded computers and was very disappointed that I’d lost my CD of Photoshop. I was even more disappointed when I went to the store and remembered how expensive it was. Begrudgingly, I did re-purchase Photoshop.

If I could somehow transfer files from my old computer to my new computer, that would’ve been amazing. Which, if you think about it now, is really one of the great perks of digital sales and subscription models. There are no CDs, and your apps are connected to a single online location. I know getting a new phone every two years is almost a little treat for me when I get to audit what apps I want to download from my Google Playstore account.

The Problem With (so Many) Subscriptions

But then, the other side of this is the sheer amount of subscription services available. I remember when I first got Netflix. How amazing was that? Very! All those movies and shows in one place for one small price a month.

Cue a few more years, and all of a sudden, that jumped to having Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, etc. I had to make a deliberate decision to only have one or two subscriptions at a time and rotate them so as to get the most out of them by binging the shows on a particular platform.

For photography work alone, I have a monthly subscription to Adobe, of which I use Photoshop and InDesign fairly regularly. I also occasionally use Premiere. I also have subscriptions to Dropbox for backups, Rounded for invoicing, Format for my website, and Milanote for moodboards.

It all adds up, so much so that around the new year, I cancel all my cards and get new ones from my bank. And then, when an email comes that a particular subscription couldn’t be charged, I am reminded to make the deliberate choice to either update the payment details or ask to have the subscription cancelled.

What prompted this article is Capture One’s decision to inadvertently move to what is arguable a subscription-based model. I understand from a developer point of view that this yields greater revenue; if a consumer pays a certain amount regularly rather than when they want, then that means continued profits for the company. Nonetheless, it isn’t always for me.

The System Is Working as Intended

I don’t know if I have a particular solution for consumers (or even developers). Maybe, the immediate consumer solution is to do as I do and be more aware of what you are purchasing and how. 

Or perhaps, that is the point: this subscription model, which was meant to offer an affordable means of access to the consumer, is no longer solely doing that. Instead, it is now a means for developers to have a sort of cash cow consumer that continually brings revenue.

The system is working as intended: not for the benefit of the consumer.

By Indana