Boonex added subscriptions for licenses and license+hosting plans a few months ago. Already subscriptions make up more than half of our business and growing. Our own impression so far is quite simple - subscriptions are better for us and for clients. First, initial spent is never too high, and people that are "just trying" can either just for a free trial or invest a relatively small amount of money. Second, all the hosting and installation woes are over - we take care of it. Third, no version update dramas - we take care of it. And we have ongoing motivation to provide excellent service, because if if don't - we don't get paid.
Now, let's look at Boonex Market. It has hundreds of good extensions for DolphinPro. Dozens of qualified, talented, reputable vendors. Clients are interested and willing to pay for good extensions - they often save thousands of dollars by not engaging into custom development. And still, we have a bunch of problems...
First, poor support. Some vendors are trying to provide adequate support, while some just don't. Even the "good" vendors often delay their response. Clients have to do a fair bit of research before they can confidently buy an extension.
Second, high prices. Good modules and templates often sit in $50-$100 price range or even more. It is a lot, especially for new sites that don't make any money yet. Understandably, some vendors are factoring in potential support overhead, but they have to "carpet-bomb" everyone - some clients never ask for any support, while others take up weeks and weeks. Still, everyone has to pay the same price. Even if you never use the extension you bought.
Third, lagging updates. We update DolphinPro periodically and vendors are supposed to check their products, adjust them if needed, and update to keep them compatible with the latest Dolphin. Some vendors do it, but typical trend is that products that don't sell well anymore aren't getting updated. This leaves the old buyers with nothing but frustration. And vendors don't have the incentive to do update, because they have their own bills to pay and need to concentrate on what's lucrative.
It looks like subscriptions for Market products could potentially fix all those problems. For example, let's take an extension priced at, say, $3/month instead of $50 one-off. Client would be able to try it spending just the first $3. If it's good - they keep paying. If they don't need it anymore - they cancel it.
In this case vendor would be motivated to retain the client, which can only be done if good support is provided and value is continuously added in a form of compatibility updates, feature improvements, fixes, optimisation, etc.
By the end of average subscription period of 2 years (typical for this sort of products), the client would have paid $72, instead of $50. It's appreciably more, but it was spread over the long period, making it easier to handle. Plus, in these two years they received a much better product with fewer ongoing issues - all thanks to better support.
Vendors would have to work harder and longer to even make those first $50, but on the other hand their revenue would become a lot more stable, predictable and continuously growing. And they would only need to support those who keeps paying. Strong vendor-client relationship would result in additional sales, trust and longer-term commitments.
And most importantly - this would encourage an overall shift from quantity to quality. Vendors would need to focus on fewer products, improving them consistently. Even one active subscriber would mean that there is potential for more - hence the products need to be improved, not discontinued. Vendors would have to update extensions in advance - before DolphinPro releases, so as to avoid sales halts and backlash from subscribers.
It's a whole new game, in a higher league.
We plan to tie this to our own subscriptions. Every extension would be processed as a subscription-addon, billed monthly. We would deduct a commission and pay the rest to vendors. This would also allow us to remove a lot of friction-points in Market experience where payments have to go directly to vendors, complicating checkout process.
There are quite a few little details and nuances that we have to figure out, so don't expect this shift to happen tomorrow. We will first experiment with Trident, which is something we already started working on. We will also definitely keep the option to sell directly for one-time payment. Extensions would also need to undergo a review before being offered as part of subscription plans. So, I think we need about 3-4 months after DolphinPro 7.3 release.
That's that. What do you think? Let's talk this through!