TextExpander Now a Subscription Service

MacStories reporting on the major change to TextExpander’s pricing that comes into effect with the latest versions of its iOS and Mac apps:

With the new Mac and iOS versions of TextExpander, Smile has introduced a new pricing model. To use TextExpander going forward, you will need one of two types of accounts: an individual or a team account. Individual accounts cost $4.95/month or the equivalent of $3.96/month if billed annually. Team accounts are billed on a per user basis of $9.95/user per month or the equivalent of $7.96/user per month if billed annually. Existing TextExpander users can take advantage of a 50% discount on the first year of an individual account. […]

Pricing is hard to judge because everyone values software differently. By the same token, TextExpander is not a new app – it has been around for many years as a paid-up-front utility, which is what this new pricing model will be measured against by existing customers. I can’t help but feel that those customers will be unhappy, perhaps very unhappy.[…]

Here’s the thing that will make the new pricing model difficult to swallow for some customers – Dropbox and iCloud sync of snippet libraries, which previously didn’t cost anything extra, are being replaced with a subscription-based sync solution with a relatively high price, and if you have a large library of snippets built over many years, they will be inaccessible unless you sign up for a subscription.

Smile has, to much surprise and ire, drawn a line in the sand with this new release of TextExpander, and access to new features and future versions of the app will require a subscription.

Subscription pricing models aren’t anything new, and even 1Password recently launching their Teams and Families plans, which is what TextExpander is going to be compared the most to. However, unlike TextExpander, 1Password’s new subscription services are optional–those who prefer to continue using 1Password as standalone apps that sync with Dropbox or iCloud can continue to do so1. More importantly, 1Password’s subscription services are aimed at groups of people, there’s no individual subscription.

1Password’s approach to subscriptions is that it’s a value-added service. 1Password works exactly the same before, and after, Teams and Families were launched, though subscribers have access to a range of extra features and functionality.

Smile’s approach with TextExpander, however, appears heavy handed. Instead of trying to entice users with the benefits or features of their new subscription service, the company has issued an ultimatum to their userbase. A subscription is required for any future versions and there is no committment to the support of TextExpander 5 and TextExpander Touch 3, should any OS updates affect functionality.

I’ve worked at many companies that use TextExpander in some form or another, so switching to a subscription model almost guarantees that Smile has a constant revenue stream for years to come, likely more than standalone software licenses would have ever brought in. Unfortunately, it really does feel like Smile’s bottom line was the primary motivation for a subscription model – requiring individuals to subscribe as well makes no sense at all, otherwise.

While it’s going to hurt individuals who have loved using TextExpander for many years, I can’t help but think that Smile is, well, smiling all the way to the bank.

  1. My wife and I looked into 1Password for Families as we’re both frequent 1Password users and often need to share login or account information. Ultimately, it was overkill for our needs and didn’t offer us any benefit over a shared Vault in Dropbox.