The problem is that I just don’t understand why I should pay $4-$5/month to use TextExpander 6.
Today, Smile Software released version 6 of TextExpander, and announced that it will be a subscription service with a monthly fee. While I understand why Smile wants people to sign up for Software As A Service (SaaS), I have no idea why I would want to pay them a monthly fee for TextExpander.
Let me be clear: I have been a TextExpander user for a long, long time. In fact, I was a “Textpander” user before there was ever a TextExpander. That was 10 years ago. I talked about TextExpander on MacPowerUsers, and I wrote about it. I replied to people who said “Why is it so expensive?” by saying that it was worth it for something that I use every day.
Dear @TextExpander: I love you & have used you since “Textpander”, but there is no way in hell I’m paying $5/month.
Judging from my replies, mentions, and iMessages, there are a lot of people who feel the same way. Searching Twitter for “TextExpander” showed a lot of unhappy users.
But is this just another case of “Users are cheap and don’t value developers’ time?” I don’t think so. I happily signed up for 1Password for Families which will eventually be $5/month, although I could have gotten away with using the app as I have previously. There’s no question that this will be (slightly) more expensive for me in the long term, but after using it for a few days it was obvious that 1Password for Families was going to save me time and frustration. In fact, it was so good that I even said to a few people “I could imagine using 1Password for Families even as an individual, just for the bonus features.”
There’s the rub for Smile and TextExpander: I don’t see anything that I really need in TextExpander version 6. I’m not using it with a “team” and my family members probably have no interest in sharing a group of text snippets with me. Yes, I realize that Smile made their own syncing service, but I have used iCloud, Dropbox, and BitTorrent Sync, and they work fine for TextExpander. Creating their own syncing service was solving a problem that I didn’t have.
Compare this to 1Password for Families, which does solve a problem for me (managing multiple vaults of passwords for multiple family members), and it is completely optional, and I can see why 1Password would benefit from steady income; namely, they have to keep working on maintaining and expanding compatibility with _every website on the internet that uses a login form. Oh, and encryption.
Why does Smile need steady income for syncing text snippets? 1Password does something for me that I could never do myself, and does it far better than I could ever come close to doing. On the other hand, TextExpander makes things a little easier, which was enough to justify the initial price of TextExpander and upgrades, but not a monthly fee. Office 365 is $10/month, so I tend to compare any other monthly subscription to that. Is TextExpander worth ½ of Office 365?
To be clear, I’m not saying that the Smile folks are bad, evil, mean, money-grubbers or anything like that. What I am saying is this: as an experienced power-user of your software, I do not have the slightest clue why you decided to make this service mandatory when it seems to offer very little for individual users, and I have no idea why I should pay a monthly fee for something that has worked fine before. What problem does TextExpander 6 solve for me?
I can’t answer that question.
And if I can’t answer that question, Smile has a big problem. They may be 100% right and I may be 100% wrong, but they’ve done themselves a grave disservice in the way they handled this rollout.
Since people have been asking about alternatives:
Update (12 April 2016): Smile has adjusted their mind about this.