Forcing the Saas

As I was listening to episode 58 (or was it 59), Ian & Andrey were talking about Jetbrains forcing users of their downloadable software to move to a Saas model, and the backlash it caused, etc.

Nowadays, everything is moving to the Saas model. I can understand why it’s good from a creator point of view, as you get regular income. But Saas is being forced onto everything, even downloadable software. Photoshop is another example, as is most tools from Adobe. Users are vary of this, and Adobe faced a lot of complaints too.

Is this a good trend? Are we going to get a backlash from customers, who are being forced to pay for software they just paid for?

Any thoughts?

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Adobe got a lot of grief for it but their revenue increased afterwards. My gut feeling is the same will happen with Jetbrains, the noisy complainers will move on to something else and the rest of us will continue to give Jetbrains our money because we love their products.

Personally I think it’s a good trend, in part because it removes the demand to keep adding new features to justify the cost of upgrading to a new release.

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Yes, that’s a good point.

It now means only those features which are really needed will be added (as opposed releasing something like Windows ME).

Change always makes people complain and be grumpy.

I liked Adobe’s switch to SAAS personally because instead of pirating or putting down $XXXX.XX I could pay something like $29 a month.

Saas is great for the same reason a home mortgage or car loan is great. It might take time to get $$$$ for your expensive product but you will get it.

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Adobe solved their SaaS complaints by decreasing the price massively. A boxed version of Photoshop was $700 and Lightroom costs $200 boxed, but the SaaS version with both included is $9.99/mth. You have to be a subscriber for 7.5 years to pay Adobe the same amount of money - even more if you consider Adobe had annual upgrades that people were also buying.

Jetbrains eventually caved in & tweaked their model - you now get a perpetual license to the last version that worked during your subscription. That’s not quite the same as SaaS, where the software stops working if you stop paying. REALbasic / Xojo used this model for their IDE as far back as 2005, and instead of removing the demand to add features, it pushed them into a 90-day rapid release model to encourage continuity of subscriptions:

You just need to find the model that works best for your software and customers. I won’t pay a monthly subscription for a utility to find duplicate files, but I do subscribe to Photoshop CC.


As long as your software optimizes a repetitive business process, I doubt any of your customers will change attitudes just because on the fringes there are some apps trying to push recurring revenue on most-benefit-upfront or consumer-ish products.

I’m considering doing this myself at the moment:

You can see a number of commentors have fed-back, and predictably there’s a lot of pushback, although I have also been surprised by the amount of support (also plenty of emails). My current feeling is to do my best to keep a downloadable version. The question is whether this is manageable.

The hardest thing right now is to work out whether it’s even worth going down this route. Trying to simply test this will cost quite a bit of resource.

SasS is nice – Gone are the days companies pay outrageous costs for software just to do it again when a new release comes out.

I especially like cloud-based SaaS - most companies work with internal and external stakeholders, one benefit to clould-based SaaS is that it solves the problem of versioning issues when working with internal and external stakeholders. Also multiple people can work on the same thing at the same time, a problem that desperately needed to be solved since the ol’ Microsoft Project days.

I created this project management software: for exactly the reasons above.

Long live the SaaS!