Forced Subscription Model Coming?

DTTG imho and for my needs does an awesome job of syncing my iPad with my macbook pro, bidirectionally of course. big bang for a $15 piece of software. i assume there will be both a subscription and upgrade option. i’ll probably go the upgrade option but keep an eye open to the other.


Devonthink has always been extremely fair with their approach to updates and reasonable in pricing considering the time span the software could be updated. I am quite optimistic as to what there is to expect in the future.

As for subscriptions, I think it is OK if the end of a subscription period does not stop the software working but rather just stops updating. It is perfectly OK if for some reason payment has stopped but the data can still be used. Otherwise I would prefer to pay a larger amount for a software I own and can use as long as I like and the underlying OS allows.


My question is whether an “upgrade” can still be perpetual? – upgrade but with no “forced-only” subscription “model” ($)

Your reply does not answer that question, or list the purchase (and possible subscription) options, say for DTPO 4 or for the next version of DTGO.

I want to stay with DT, but a forced-only subscription model would be the end.


Agreed, did not answer questions at all.

I had so many problems with DTTG where a search on DTTG didn’t find all the documents in DTPO I gave up and got a refund. That was about six months ago, but at the time, the developer was more concerned about implementing “dark mode” than looking into my report. He did later report that he couldn’t reproduce my issues even though I offered to send in documents and such. I have no idea, and don’t want to pay another $15 to “test”, if it’s been fixed since then.

The options will be announced when it’s ready. And there are definitely no plans to switch to subscriptions on the Mac right now.


Thank you.

The “sell-once and support forever” model just isn’t sustainable. This is especially a problem for small developers selling $5 and $10 utilities, but it affects Devon, too.

I’ve seen great apps disappear, because the developer (often a single coder) couldn’t support himself on the revenue his app generated. There’s a limited market for every app, and once everyone who wants it buys it, the revenue stream dries up.

(One of my favorite utilities is Spamsieve; I paid $30 for it in 2007; for 13 years I’ve been getting free updates, and I’ve actually asked the developer to move to a subscription model; he hasn’t yet, but I hope he will.)

I’d rather pay a modest annual fee and know the developers will have the financial resources needed to continue to offer support and updates going forward.


As discussed everywhere, not subscription is the solution, but payed upgrades for major new versions.

This allows the customer to choose wether to upgrade not and offers the developer a way to sell new ideas, options and features.

Best of both worlds for both sides!


Agreed, especially if it is deployed everywhere (macOS, iOS and iPad OS). Devon has a tracked record of support and adding features over time. I have always been amazed to pay so little (once considering the number of years - yes plural - between having to pay again) for such benefits.


As discussed everywhere, not subscription is the solution, but payed upgrades for major new versions.

Many small utilities will never have major new features. SpamSieve is a perfect example; I’ve been using it for 13 years, and the only new “features” have been updates to support new versions of macOS. SpamSieve already does everything it needs to do.

Actually, Devonthink 2 did everything I needed it to do, except run on my new Mac that came with Catalina. (Even then it mostly worked, though OCR was broken.)

New features can be nice, but are they as important as:

  • The continued existence of the app?
  • Bug fixes?
  • Updates to support new versions of macOS?
  • Good technical support?

All of those services come with ongoing costs to Devon, and to expect them to offer them for free is just silly.


Devonthink seem to have a small team which is very attentive to its users. I feel sorry for small developers who have to constantly update their software as Apple updates the OS. I don’t much like to pay a subscription, so I prefer to pay for an upgrade, but I depend on Devonthink so I’m happy to pay to see it thrive.


That comes as a relief after upgrade to DT3 just a couple of months after I bought DT2 and my recent update to DT3 Pro thanks for awesome black friday Promo. With the total price tag of 150+ eur, I would be happy to be able to enjoy this fantastic software for a couple of years until the major DT4 (or however it will be called) arrives without paying any subscriptions. I will be happy to pay for upgrade to DT4 once it comes with yet another additional awesome features/redesign/etc. I personally would not be paying subscription for DT3 which already costed my 150+ eur. It is probably the most expensive piece of software I own today.

On the IOS, I find Things3 has found a great approach. Cheap entrance price for iPhone and more expensive price for iPad. So you can try the iPhone version and if you like it buy the iPad one.

Using DTP since v1 then DTTG as my paperless office with the help of a ScanSnap, I feel the upgrades have been fair, although the latest v3 desktop upgrade was more costly. I’m using it on a daily basis although not using lots of pro functionalities (scripts, wiki, etc.).
Reality is that many developers switch to subscription model because it is the only way they can ensure financial stability. Many application which don’t have (yet) subscription release major upgrades almost every year which, in a way, is similar to subscription. It’s true that we can stick to the previous version… until supported by new OS. Very few still updates previous version just for system compatibility.
Anyway, there are different subscription models and different cost. If the subscription is let’s say, more or less equal in time as the major upgrade, then it is perfectly OK. It even helps spreading the costs for those who have low income as Independants.
Personally, I like the subscription model of Agenda. It gives for free basic functionalities and more for the paying Pro. When you decide not to renew the pro features, you keep all those you already have and are ensured to still have updates. Just that you don’t get new Pro features.

What major features will the new version include? Will there be support for annotation documents, for instance?

Sorry but we are not discussing new features of the next major release at this time.

I have said this elsewhere, but I think it bears repeating. Speaking as one who ran a software company, albeit writing technical and not consumer software, developers should revisit the pricing model of the mid to late 1980s. In those days we sold perpetual licences for software ‘as is’, with a short ‘warranty’ during which bug fix upgrades (point releases) were free, as was support. After that, if users wanted either or both of continuing support and/ or upgrades (major, minor, point) they paid an annual maintenance and support fee. The fee was c. 10% pa of the then current initial licence fee. Users who did not want to pay that fee could buy upgrade licences for new major releases. These were priced at roughly the same level as if they had taken a maintenance and support contract.

The key point is that the initial license was perpetual and the software would carry on working until an external change - typically an operating system upgrade - broke it. Subscription pricing where EITHER the annual price is over 10 - 25% of the purchase price OR the software only works for so long as you hold a licence looks, smells and tastes like rent seeking. It is bad for bad for users and it is bad for developers; developers need copies of their software on users computers even, especially, if they’re not regularly used. I, myself, use DT for two things only, but it’s a tool in my box that I know is there if I ever need it, at which point its value proposition changes. If the only way I could have got it in the first place was by subscription, I doubt I would have used it in the first place.

As an aside, the Setapp model, whilst a subscription is different. One is placing a value on the totality of what’s available under it. I don’t know how they split revenue between developers, but it encourages me at least to experiment with apps that otherwise I wouldn’t have thought to try.


I’ve been purchasing software since the late 1970 (yes, before a lot of you were even a glimmer in your Dad’ eye…). I go back to the copied floppy disk in with a few paper sheets stapled together in a zip-lock baggie. Believe me a lot of software that was fantastic over the past 50 years has come and gone with very few staying around long enough to become a important part of my workflow. The business model for being able to put roof over your head, pay your employees for development, testing and support has gotten a lot more expensive.

For me, DEVONThink Pro has been one of my constants on my Mac. It’s the first application I open each day and it’s the place I put ‘my world’. In previous releases (ie. 1 & 2) the user interface was a little ‘clunky’ but in v3 it’s finally matured to the point where access to the underlying power is accessible to mere mortals.

DTTG is a similar story, good first idea but not so great then upgrades to something I also use daily on my IOS devices.

When the first subscription plan came out (if you remember, it was Adobe) I rebelled against buying in to it. I did then and still do think Adobe is incredibly greedy when there were other choices out there. They inadvertently forced me to consider their competitors. I’ve been happy to use Capture One every since and (surprisingly enough) are willing to pay them an annual fee as the product is so superior to what Adobe offers and the improvements they make all the time are incredible.

Fast forward to DEVONThink v2.0 and the very long update cycle time until v3 came out. Out of frustration I tried all the other competitors out there looking for something that worked as well. During my search, DEVONThink v3.0 came out and I have been immensely happy with the UI changes and feature improvements. There’s nothing else out there in the same league. The additions and improvements in the incremental updates since first resale have been great.

There are other applications I have agreed to support with a subscription (Ulysses, Drafts, OverCast, etc) all because (1) they are essential to my digital life, (2) they are ‘best in class’, (3) the subscription fee is not ‘in your face’ but reasonable and (4) the people behind the products are nice guys build applications that improve my day.

I can tell you with certainty and I support these applications because they are essential to me and I’ve seen lots of good applications go unsupported and finally dropped over the years. I don’t want to see that happen to DEVONThink products.

Let me ask how many of you subscribe to Netflicks? Disney+, Apple Music (for Apple One theses days), Spotify, etc.

What’s the issue with supporting a product you use all the time with a similar business model???

@BLUEFROG make the subscription reasonable, give people time to adapt, give them an incentive to subscribe, dedicate you and your team to building great new features or improvements to old features and don’t worry about the people who complain about it. They’re less likely to understand why you are taking this route.


they paid an annual maintenance and support fee. The fee was c. 10% pa of the then current initial licence fee… [upgrade licences] were priced at roughly the same level as if they had taken a maintenance and support contract.

This seems like a great revenue model.

How would it have worked?
In real life, I paid $150 for DT2 in 2012, then a $100 upgrade to get DT3 in 2020. So total = $250.

In @GaiusScotius Support-contract world:
$150 for 2012 purchase DEVONthink Pro Office 2
$105 for 7 years of support (at $15/year)
$40 for 2 years of support (at $20/year) after DEVONthink Pro 3 came out in 2019
Total: $295

I would have spent a little more money, but not much. And I’d have had DEVONthink Pro 3 a year earlier.

Some might see the total outlay as trivial, but an extra $15 or $20 per customer per year would not be trivial for Devon. They’d have had a continuous stream of income, instead of having to wait 8 years!

Maybe version 3 wouldn’t have taken 10 years if they had a continuous stream of revenue coming in?

I would be thrilled if they adopted this model!

Want technical support? Want that minor feature update to 2.1? Just get current on your support contract!

I still think they should offer, alongside that model, a monthly subscription that’s much cheaper, but which stops working (or becomes read-only) if the subscriber lets the subscription lapse. They could charge $9.99/month. At the very least, it lets people try it out for a few months before committing the big bucks.

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Welcome @SwissSailor
Thanks for your history and comments. :slight_smile: