App Subscription to Use Models vs Update Support

Why do some people act as if making money offended their delicate minds? I am out for a legitimate profit, and not ashamed of it; the fact that people will pay money for my goods and services shows that my work is useful.
«Magic Inc.» by Robert A. Heinlein

Many apps use subscription models. You have a pay a monthly or yearly amount of money to be able to use the app. Some have expensive lifetime use options, but most do not.

Usually, these subscription models are a showstopper for me. Why would I want to use an app, especially one that creates proprietary files, that I cannot use once I fall on hard times? Or worse, when the company gets out of business and there is simply no way to pay the subscription and continue using the app? It’s essentially renting the option to use a program.

The few exceptions are either apps for which I have no choice but to have to use it due to work (Microsoft Word/Excel/Powerpoint) or one app that I really like (and whose unpaid version works well enough). But yeah, usually it’s a showstopper.

I get the need for developers to get paid regularly. After all, you don’t just develop an app and put it online. Operating systems change, functions become deprecated or defunct, and suddenly your app does not work anymore due to no fault of your own. Some apps also need functionality like servers that have to be financed.

But I wonder whether in most cases, at least in cases in which no expensive server infrastructure is needed, an update-support-model would not be better.

Instead of paying a subscription to use the app (weekly or yearly) and losing the ability to use the app if you cannot or will not pay, people pay a slightly higher one-time amount. For this amount, they get to use the app as long as it works (your problem if you upgrade your OS or hardware and the app no longer runs on the newer OS). If they want updates, they get them for free within one year. If they want updates after that year has past, they have to pay a lesser amount (one time, valid for one year of updates). No matter whether they pay for app updates or not, they can use the app for as long as it runs on their devices.

Sure, developers would lose the regular finance stream. They would need to provide worthwhile updates or (deliberately or not) have to fix deprecated/defunct functions to make the app run on newer operating systems. But at least users could use the software even if they become unable to pay for it. And the software would continue to run even if the company (which is some cases is a single developer) becomes defunct.

Might be a worthwhile system.


Update: Got a message by Christian that this is called a «Sketch-model», named for the company who introduced it (, see and They offer a subscription model and a solo model that can be used continuously with one year of updates. Thank you Christian for the information. 🙂