After trying a new app every month or so, I’ve stuck with two important apps for my task management system and email client for the last year and a half or so. They are Todoist for my task management and Airmail for my email. However, in the last month or so I’ve tried some new applications and services that have got me thinking about two different pricing models, Subscriptions and paid up front apps.
The two new apps that I have been trying are Things 3, a new task management app which has a single pay up front pricing model (it’s their first paid upgrade since they launched with the iPhone app costing $9.99 and iPad app costing $19.99). This is in contrast with Todoist which has a premium subscription of $29 a year. As such, for the price of one years todoist, you get several years of updates from Things.
Of course, there are differences in features and functionality between the two apps so there are other reasons to choose todoist over things (most notable, Todoist is a web based service that opens up the option to log in and use it on any computer and link it with online services like zapier and so on.
Newton is an email client that unlike most email clients, has a subscription based premium price plan ($50). If you pay for the premium plan, then you unlock features such as
- read receipts
- send later
- sender profiles
- and connected apps
In many ways it has a lot of similarities with Todoist and not just because has a pricy subscription plan, but also because it can connect with different applications and trigger different actions.
Subscriptions vs Pay up front
These connected and more web based apps have on going costs for the developers. Unlike apps which run only on your device, an app which has a cloud based component requires running a server to keep going. More users, more data, more servers, and a higher cost for the developers.
As a user, it’s not great to have to keep paying a cost each year that is the same as other apps cost in total for several years of development or is much greater in the case of Newton’s cost over Airmail. But, if you want those server based features, and you want an app to continue, you have to pay.
As for me, I’m not sure which apps I’ll settle on, but I suspect it will be Airmail and Things. They are great apps and while they miss certain features, they are still very powerful and have their own advantages…and they are cheaper.