DEVONthink deserves a subscription model

For regular users of DEVONthink, it is not an application that we need occasionally, it is essential part of our daily work routine.

I am subscribed to lots of apps. But none of them is as important as DEVONthink for me, and I don’t spend as much time on any of them as I do on DEVONthink. But unfortunately, DEVONthink is not the app I paid most.

I don’t want to offend people who can’t afford subscription model, I am just saying that there must be a lot of people like me who are willing to pay more, and DEVONthink makers and employees deserve to earn more.

I hope you come up with a model that both one time purchasers and people who are OK with subscription would be happy.


I share @melik’s perspective and would assume that there must be a sizable portion of DT users who feel that way. DevonThink is almost absurd value for money compared to other applications I pay for, especially over the timespan of a couple years.
If there was an optional subscription for voluntary supporters, there would probably be plenty of people willing to subscribe.
Maybe there could be some small added benefits, though not feature-related. It would have to be made clear that this isn’t a creeping transition to a forced subscription model where suddenly certain features in DT Pro are only accessible with a subscription.


Although we think exactly same about how DEVONthink deserves to be paid more, I don’t think that subscription should be optional. There should be real value that I want to pay more for it.

For example, DEVONthink To Go has both subscription and one time purchase model, and even though I think DEVONthink deserves to be paid more, I didn’t subscribe for it (and paid a lot less in long run). Because why not? There was no incentive for me to pay more.

I want DEVONthink to make me want to pay more for it. Otherwise it will be just a donation and I believe we can make donations just the same (without changing pricing model).

Pricing is an art. And there are people who are expert on this area. Patrick Campbell is one of them. He wrote a great article about pricing. I suggest DEVONthink makers to consult him or other experts in this area.

Thanks for bringing up the issue of pricing, which is an important one for both DT and its user base. I imagine most of us on this forum place a high value on DT, so I think we are in agreement about that.

However, I think it is difficult to calculate the most appropriate price point for any good or service, because you have to consider many factors such as the users you are targeting with your product and the business models of your competitors. The list goes on and on, but my point is that it is not simply about the intrinsic value of a product or service, however we define that.

Put another way, I find many things to be amazing and appealing, but I do not spend any money on them—and, as long as they have a subscription model I am unlikely to ever spend money on them. In my opinion, subscription models are fabulous for businesses, and I can see their appeal there in terms of recurring revenue to support past and future development, but I think they are terrible for users, who have to shoulder that burden. For my personal use (separate from things necessary for my career and billed to my employer), I’ve found that I can happily do without just about any subscription, and the few that I have are more about “lock-in” than “loyalty.” As soon as I can extract myself from their services, I will, regardless of how great I think the application is.

I appreciate that DT offers both models for its iOS version. When they set the price point, I felt that they listened to the needs of their user base while making sure they were fairly compensated for their work. It’s not ideal, but it works. In contrast, another app competing in the same space drastically raised its subscription pricing, offering lots of new features and redesigns that wreaked havoc on my workflow and brought nothing of additional value to me, even if it may have been a good business decision for them for the short-term bottom line. They continue to churn through new “improvements” to support / justify their subscription model. Perhaps they are as much a slave to it as their users are, because I do not think anyone is enjoying the ride they are on now, and anecdotally speaking, its user base seems to have cratered in the country where I live and work.

I was glad to have finally escaped lock-in after over a decade of relying on the app. It was a great service I was willing to pay for over the course of a decade, even though I loathe the business model, but it was not sustainable for me once they used that lock-in to raise prices and go in another direction. In my opinion, the subscription model and aggressive pricing drove them to look for new users at the expense of retaining existing ones—longtime users preferred a slow, incremental improvement approach with regular bug fixes to the “disruptive” reinvention of the app ever few years.

An anecdote is just one user’s experience, but speaking personally, I am much less likely to agree to any pricing plan that attempts to amortize the cost over time through a subscription model. It’s not so much about “what” I am willing to pay as “how” I am willing to do it. If DT is looking for more revenue, I think there are some systemic pricing issues that could be adjusted to encourage expansion of the user base, but that is a topic for another thread :slight_smile:


My use of DT is entirely private so I have no customers to pass ongoing costs to. If DT becomes “subscription based” then I’m afraid it will join the growing pile of rentware which I’ve left behind, even though I spend most of my time working with it. I am largely in agreement with Frobgoblin’s comments above.

DT3’s substantial pricing increases upon release were both acceptable and worthwhile compared to DTPO (with the gap continuing to grow as incremental upgrades are released). Not all people felt that way, however, with a few complaints at the upgrade costs and even some new or prospective buyers balking publicly in this forum. For my part, I’ve been satisfied to the extent of recently purchasing a third seat for my copy of DT3.

The major upgrade cycles of DT have been the stuff of minor legend, with years passing between major releases. Certainly a major upside has been program stability as compared to some other software developers forcing out annual major “upgrades” that are ridden with bugs. But the community could probably easily sustain a somewhat more aggressive cycle–I don’t have any problem with the great folks at Devon Technologies making piles of money. I just won’t, and can’t, support rentware.

My 2¢ worth…(and finding the ¢ key was quite the trick…)

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While in general I don’t like subscription services, there are cases where I accept them.

Notably everything involving cloud support (1Password, for example). But also when I see that the developers have to keep up with a changing environment like in the case of Boxcryptor: when the OS is modified so that changes to the software are required, the developers have to somehow recoup the costs.

And then there’s Adobe which Dusche give you any choice.

For me, it’s mostly about value for money. If that relation is ok, I don’t really care about the payment model. It’s either a subscription or a paid-for „major“ upgrade. One way or another, developers have to live.