SAAS, or better known as Software As A Service. Kind of a simple term, unfortunately a term that has become more more meaningful in an individuals life. One that if technology suppliers have their way will be the only way to get anything software and could eventually encompass hardware.
Don’t get me wrong, I work developing software as a a service, but reality is it doesn’t mean I agree with the method of selling software in all cases.
SAAS has a constant problem for the consumer using the software. What happens to anything I created using software I have to pay for annually actually accessed after I can no longer afford to pay for it annually? How many people actually think about this?
The problem does not really matter if you are a corporation or an individual. Say you are using Adobe Cloud platform, whether business or individual. You create graphic advertisements, PDF’s, images, or any of their 17 products. You go sign up, purchase some or all.
Cost is. your first limiting factor. If you are a business you can purchase a single app for $33.99/month or you can have all apps for $79.99/month. Now keep in mind, those are for one user license of each app. Since I don’t use Adobe Creative Cloud, I’ve not read their license agreement so I don’t have a clue how you are required to manage the license. In other words, can I purchase one license of all apps for $79.99/month and then have 20 different users who download and install one of those apps? For some reason I think it is a bit more complex than that. Which really isn’t the point. But you can see you will pay somewhere between $407.88 to $959.88 per year, no tax for that software. Now go the cheaper route and boom, get two apps and your close to the $79.99/month range. Actually your at $67.98, 12.01 cents short of $79.99. If your a business and have even one employee that uses three of Adobes products, you just bought licenses to 17 products you don’t even use in order to “save money”.
Now on the consumer side. I won’t spend too much time here because this is a three post topic alone. Reality is right now they have a photographers package that includes Lightroom and Photoshop; all for $9.99/month. Individually they have Photoshop at $20.99/month and Lightroom at $9.99/month. We can assume they are giving you Photoshop at no charge. But for how long? Eventually as more people are using Lightroom that package price will be adjusted to a price just below the combined price. But knowing Adobe it won’t be; the cost will just outright change to 30.99; 0.01 cents higher than the two bought individually.
My point here is, you now bought it. You start using it and I mean really using it. Two years go by, business has been good, or whatever your decision to buy these as an individual was good. But now, not so much. I’m not doing as much in that line of work as I was. Time to cut some expenses.
Wait, maybe not so fast. Remember that great vacation you edited a ton of pictures of, if you cancel now you won’t be able to open the original Adobe files any longer but only the JPEG files you created. This includes movies, PDF documents, pictures, or anything else you edited. Those now become hard disk dead space, something you don’t want to let go of, yet something you can no longer open.
Okay, I’m an adult, I can handle losing hours of work on things I created as a passion. I cancel my subscription. Suddenly you need it again; well price could have gone up, unlikely it has gone down.
SAAS was created as a means to an end. It started as “we can bring you better products, keep you up to date”. Developers today even indicate it keeps them more interested in developing the products they are working. But reality check. Since SAAS has consumed so many markets, have we consumers really gotten “better products” in the end? Did companies start listening to us more? Are we getting more frequent improved products? Not really.
You know I worked as a programmer long before SAAS was heard of. How did we make money, we actually delivered improved products. How did we know, you as a consumer kept purchasing our upgrades. As a consumer you told us what you were looking for and we knew we had to deliver in an update or we were going to lose customers. Job satisfaction, well it came from your feedback and your continued support through purchasing upgrades.
Yes here are valid software as a service products. Software you use for a given purpose and goal, and once done will never use it again. Tax software is such a product. I file taxes once a year, they update it every year. I print and save my tax return. Odds of opening it again fairly slim. But yet even TurboTax still sells outright versions. Personally I am glad because I buy it every year. Why, so I have it in case of an audit. I can open the file again should the need occur. I keep it 7 years, the time I’m subject to audit, and then out it goes.
Reality is, companies want to treat consumers, whether individual or business as if they are money pits. They hold your creations to whatever means as hostage to keep you paying. They know you need the software to open things created by their software. SAAS locks you into them. Exporting has become a secondary concern for them. Some don’t even offer a means to export to another company software. Or if they do, it is exported as they design the export process and whatever new software vendor you choose, they have to figure out how to import it.
This has to change is the business model.
Some companies have gone to the extreme of using a two tier method to extort money out of you. Some will charge you for the software, give you cryptic documentation that you will spend hours learning how to use it. And then they will charge you for any support request you enter asking to help to learn how to use what you just purchased. This trend will continue to grow. They are concerned about their profits no matter if you as a customer are a consumer or business.
The model is broken. So I will spend some time writing posts on products you can purchase an own. Products you do not have to buy upgrades for, but can if you want. Most importantly you software you own a perpetual license to so you an continue opening your files for years to come. In these cases, you will eventually have to upgrade since sooner or later an operating system may come out the version you have may not run on. But as I’ve found, even software as a service hasn’t overcome that issue.