The Lure of Subscription-Based Software

The tides have been changing lately, and maybe you've already noticed. Software is moving away from those big, ugly one-time fees and switching over to very attractive low monthly subscriptions. Of course, monthly subscriptions can easily add up to be just as much, if not more, than what we would have originally paid.

But that offer is so sweet. $700 for Photoshop? Nah, it's just $20 per month. To be fair, you can use Photoshop for a while before you hit the full $700. Of course, that means you're spending $240 per year on photo editing software. But again, it also means you're using the latest version of Photoshop at all times. And if you're a web professional or photographer, then the cost could easily be justified.

See? It's a tempting offer.

But it's not just Adobe that's cashing in. Microsoft is doing the same thing with Office, not to mention that a slew of other online services are out there offering reasonable subscription rates, as well. Spotify is only $10 per month for as much music as you can pump into your ears. Evernote's $5 per month. Dropbox is affordable for online storage, but so is Google Drive, Amazon Cloud, Box, and a ton of others. How about entertainment? Hulu is currently $8, and so is the streaming option of Netflix.

That Adds Up Pretty Quickly

Before you know it, you can be sitting on some pretty hefty monthly bills -- all for stuff that you can't actually hold. You've got your computer / tablet / phone, but all those services on there aren't actually yours. You're just paying for the right to use 'em.

And when it comes time to switch services... well, now you have to figure out how to transfer all those settings or files. Maybe you can take a month or two to transfer your playlists and make a backup-backup of your backup files... Yeah, it's getting ridiculous, I know. But I've switched between these services before, and you may have, too. One thing is for certain: you quickly learn that you don't want to do that again.

I have a few subscription services that I use daily now, and I really do love them. But I'm careful to leave myself a way out whenever possible. After all, you never know when these systems might change in a way you don't like.

Stepping Away from Paid Services for a Moment

The funny thing is, we're (nearly) infinitely patient with social media services. We all complain when Facebook changes, but very few of us actually leave the service. (It sounds like we might be ready to witness another wave of complaints due to change.) And that whole kerfluffle over Instagram's usage rights? That's pretty well done now.

You see, these types of services have so many things going for them. Habit, convenience, and peer pressure. No wonder we put up with it for so long.

What About You?

Have you ever made a vow to jump off a social media service or a paid subscription? Did you follow through? If not, what kept you around? I'll confess that I'm only on Facebook still because of family.