Pathfinder users: would you support a subscription model?

stu.farnham's Avatar


02 Sep, 2017 04:30 PM

Anyone who has been watching the market for productivity apps, at least on the Mac, knows that is a very challenging market in which to succeed. The App Store has changed how users value software, driving prices down.This makes it difficult for companies like Cocoatech to be profitable. Its users see the effect of this in the overall decrease of responsiveness from Cocoatech. How long have we suffered with the PF7 screen focus bug? Why is there no High Sierra beta version and likely no High Sierra supported version. until PF8? My guess it is due the the financial squeeze.

I have been using Pathfinder for as long as I have been using a Mac, and hadn't given it any particular thought for several years until I switched to the High Sierra beta and had to work without it. Over time it has insinuated itself into my workflow to the point that it is indispensable. I tried a couple of its competitors (CommandOne and ForkLift) and they are feature poor by comparison.Pathfinder has become very valuable to me; Finder isn't even in the game.

Over the several years several long time essential apps have gravitated towards subscription models, largely to attempt to offset the market forces that are squeezing so many out of business. 1Password and TextExpander are two that come to mind. Microsoft and Adobe have also made the transition.

A couple of these transitions provide object lessons in how NOT to make the switch. Adobe faced tremendous backlash in the photography market until they created the $10/month photography bundle. TextExpander users felt they were being forced into a price increasin with a new version that did not add value for the; in fact many felt the removal of Dropbox sync removed value. Fortunately for its users the folks at Smile software listened to their customers and made adjustments.

Microsoft (a company I am generally slow to praise) did a great job with their subscription model for Office 365. Although there are only two of us in my household we have thee Macs and at usually a couple of Windows VMs for work purposes, plus a couple of iPhones and iPads. We can run office on all of these for $100/year. New fealties in 1Password were such that switching to the subscription version was a no brainer in a household with lots of computers, multiple operating systems, and shared passwords for a number of accounts.

There's a key lesson in the approaches and experiences of those companies who have made the switch. The successful changeovers occurred when users perceived added value as well as added cost. When they did not companies like Adobe and Smile software were compelled to make adjustments to create sufficient user value.

So, what's my point? I would like to see Cocoatech move to a subscription model if doing so will help them remain profitable and to maintain and extend their product in the manner they have traditionally done.I'd gladly pay something like the upgrade price of $20/year for the software, especially if there was some sort of multi license bundle available.

A question for all of you who follow this forum: would you support a switch to a subscription model? What would motivate you to do so or why would you not?


  1. 1 Posted by ctwise on 02 Sep, 2017 07:47 PM

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    Short answer: no. Too many applications are switching to subscription and it's starting to add up. Longer answer: Setapp. Not sure whether it's financially viable for Cocoatech to add Path Finder to Setapp but I'm a subscriber and use many of the applications in the Setapp bundle.

  2. 2 Posted by moof74 on 03 Sep, 2017 01:20 PM

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    No as well. It's a no go. I'm not using Setapp either because I already own so many licences. PathFinder is part of my essential toolkit and solid indie softwares like: DefaultFolder, Display, Launchbar, BusyCal and BusyContact and Tri-Backup Pro or even CaptureOne Pro. It's rock solid and faithful to early customers with decent upgrade prices for each major version. Thanks for keeping that way.

  3. 3 Posted by stu.farnham on 03 Sep, 2017 05:45 PM

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    I agree with most of what you said, mmo474, with one exception. I've seen a decided decline in the rate of development, both in terms of bug fixes and now in terms of keeping up with MacOS by having timely betas (on post suggested that High Sierra support might not come until PF7).

    To rephrase my question: if your choice was between having PathFinder continue to be actively developed or having Cocoatech fold, would you support a subscription model?

    As far as Setapp goes, that's an interesting idea. While it would not work for PF in my case, what I am really interested in is seeing that Cocoatech survives and can provide the kind of timely fixes and releases that long-time users are accustomed to. If Setapp does that I'm good, as long as traditional licensing is also available.

  4. 4 Posted by Fountain on 03 Sep, 2017 09:53 PM

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    Happy to pay for upgrades that add value. But no-go on monthly or annual subscriptions.

  5. 5 Posted by dtoub on 03 Sep, 2017 11:12 PM

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    Absolutely no to subscriptions. No way. Happy to pay a reasonable upgrade fee (as I've always done; PF is hardly free or cheap). With the upgrade fees, I don't think it's unreasonable for there to have been app updates on a not-infrequent basis. Yeah, there are longstanding bugs, and these should be fixed. That doesn't mean a subscription model is the way to do it.

    From a business perspective, it's great in that there is recurring, regular revenue, and often that exceeds the annual upgrade fee for a new version. But that needs to be balanced against mass defections from those like me who are opposed to subscriptions in general. If there are desirable and reliable major releases to PF every year, I'd be happy to pay for them as always. But the last really major upgrade was quite some time ago, and at this point it's hard not to feel like PF is on a decline, almost end-of-life.

    I hope that's not the case, but unless the app can run in HS (yo, y'all have one more week to test a beta, which makes me extremely skeptical this is going to happen in advance of 9/12), has some compelling new features and is more stable, then as much as I don't like using the Finder on a regular basis, I'll make due (Forklift is also a nonstarter for me; no way to display the Finder Favorites in the sidebar is a showstopper, no Drop Stack, etc).

    1. No subscriptions please
    2. HS-compatible beta (PF 7.6?) has one week before HS is released; I'm really not confident cocoatech will have an update prior to 9/12 but will be happy to be surprised and to be wrong on this count
    3. PF 8 needs to be released soon afterwards (the longer it takes, the less confident I become; please don't be like Readdle and promise major feature updates to Spark that never come in under 6-12 months) with some compelling new features and bug fixes

  6. 6 Posted by Bob on 05 Sep, 2017 07:46 AM

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    NO F'N WAY!!!

    I don't rent software. Period.

    Nor do I rent my computer.

    Nor do I lease vehicles.

    I am currently renting an apartment, so I'm already taking it in the shorts.

  7. 7 Posted by Igor Freiberger on 05 Sep, 2017 09:31 AM

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    No. For the reasons already expressed in answers 1, 2, and 5.

  8. 8 Posted by derrick on 05 Sep, 2017 11:37 AM

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    No to subscriptions! If PF starts using it as a license I will stop using PF. Unfortunately.

  9. Path Finder Support Team closed this discussion on 06 Sep, 2017 06:10 AM.

  10. Path Finder Support Team re-opened this discussion on 06 Sep, 2017 06:10 AM

  11. Path Finder Support Team closed this discussion on 06 Sep, 2017 06:10 AM.

  12. Path Finder Support Team re-opened this discussion on 06 Sep, 2017 06:27 AM

  13. 9 Posted by Ben on 06 Sep, 2017 12:54 PM

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    If PF went to subscription, I would continue to use my valid license until the software stopped working. I would not even consider a subscription.

    I am, however, happy to pay to upgrade to a new release version that adds features and continues integration with the current OS family (however the developer needs to define that). I am a patient software user, and don't need a constant stream of new features.

  14. 10 Posted by Erling Thomsen on 06 Sep, 2017 03:08 PM

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    Absolutely no to subscriptions. No way. Then I wold find another product.

  15. Path Finder Support Team closed this discussion on 07 Sep, 2017 06:46 PM.

  16. Path Finder Support Team re-opened this discussion on 07 Sep, 2017 06:46 PM

  17. 11 Posted by JMichaelTX on 13 Sep, 2017 07:52 PM

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    NO to ONLY a subscription model.

    But I will happily pay an upgrade fee once a year for new features.

    I suppose some users like the lower monthly subscription fee. So why not offer both, like Microsoft does: A low monthly subscription fee, and a purchase price that requires payment for upgrades.

  18. Path Finder Support Team closed this discussion on 13 Sep, 2017 07:54 PM.

  19. Path Finder Support Team re-opened this discussion on 13 Sep, 2017 07:54 PM

  20. 12 Posted by justin on 15 Sep, 2017 12:17 AM

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    Yep. Path Finder is essential, can't use a Mac without it. Happy to pay as much as is required to ensure future development.

  21. 13 Posted by Bob on 15 Sep, 2017 12:24 AM

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    That's great to hear MTW, maybe after your generous donation they can afford to hire TWO developers. [he said snarkily]

  22. Path Finder Support Team closed this discussion on 15 Sep, 2017 02:30 PM.

  23. Path Finder Support Team re-opened this discussion on 15 Sep, 2017 02:30 PM

  24. 14 Posted by Ted E on 15 Sep, 2017 09:46 PM

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    BLUF: Not only no, but HELL NO.

    "Microsoft did a great job with their subscription model for Office 365." That really depends on who you ask. From my perspective, and my IT budget's perspective it's a disaster. Plus Microsoft forcing OneDrive down my throat, because I am a business user or any user is pointless when I have a cloud storage system I am happy with. Sorry putting away the Microsloth soap box.

    I use the old version of TextExpander because it fits my needs and I don't have to worry about the pay subscription model. It syncs across computers, I'm not sharing or doing teams, why should I change. Why should I "rent" software (we can talk music, movies, textbooks another time), it means I don't own the software. If the software is something I like, and I use, I am more than willing to pay for it if it is a reasonable price if not, move on to something else. Case in point I just upgraded my copy of Transmit from Panic Software. Are there other cheaper and free FTP programs out there, yes. Do I like...ok love Transmit, YES. Did I find the cost of purchasing Transmit reasonable, ya I did. If I didn't I wouldn't have purchased it. Tweetbot the same thing and I am more likely to spend a bit more to support a solo developer, a one person shop. They are doing everything from design, to coding, to support. If a couple of extra bucks buys them a cup of coffee of a beer at the end of the day, great.

    So other than my answer to the subscription model, my question is who thought of this idea in the first place and did they think people wouldn't revolt at some point?

  25. Path Finder Support Team closed this discussion on 17 Sep, 2017 05:22 AM.

  26. Path Finder Support Team re-opened this discussion on 17 Sep, 2017 05:22 AM

  27. 15 Posted by Scott Granneman on 22 Sep, 2017 03:54 AM

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    I would. If it ensures that such an essential piece of software continues to be developed, I’m happy to move to a subscription model.

  28. 16 Posted by Bob on 22 Sep, 2017 04:33 AM

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    For all those who think donating annually for continuing improvements is a great idea, there's nothing stopping you from just GIVING money to the company whenever you find yourself with extra cash you don't know what to do with.

    Y'all give that a try for a few years, and the rest of us will wait and see if that truly makes PF updates any more frequent or meticulous.

    You never know, maybe a few years down the road after v8 has been out a while, that influx of extra cash will allow them to go back and finally kill some of the v7 bugs we've all seen crawling about.

    Or perhaps they'll decide that with all that free money they'll take a much-deserved vacation.
    Either way it's all good since you don't mind parting with your income, right?

    Hey, as long as you're donating funds, my PayPal account is running low and very easy to contribute to. :-)

    Better yet, here's a list of links for donating to disaster relief organizations:

  29. 17 Posted by tdiaz on 05 Dec, 2017 08:54 PM

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    The whole subscription model is getting, no, make that has gotten pathetically old and annoying.

    Make a product that doesn't suck and it will sell itself.

    Path Finder has gone up and down like a roller coaster and right now it's stuck in a valley really far from the platform.

    Slow molasses when working with NAS devices, memory leaks of titanic proportions,

    Good Luck With That.

    Fix the product. It was a sluggish heap of useless glue for so long and got substantially better around the time of 10.6 - 10.9 and it's now back to making me want to use Finder again ... and the difference this time is Finder has significantly improved in performance. At least it does that part.

  30. 18 Posted by doublesupercool on 06 Dec, 2017 02:11 AM

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    No. Almost everything I use is moving to subscriptions. I hate it. Just monthly cost after monthly cost. Make the product good, I will pay for it. Stop nickel and diming me.

  31. 19 Posted by Robbie on 06 Dec, 2017 01:58 PM

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    No. I love PathFinder, but it's always -- and I do mean always -- had little faults. My current bugbear is the inability to calculate usage space (*). It doesn't play that well with NAS storage either. So if it went subscription I'd drop it and stick with Finder.

    (*) Collection of files in folders: Finder reports: 228GB < this is correct
    PathFinder reports: 1.5GB

  32. 20 Posted by Robbie on 06 Dec, 2017 02:02 PM

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    Apologies, the above should read:

    (*) Collection of files in folders: Finder reports: 228GB < this is correct PathFinder reports: 1.5TB

    AND the bl**dy annoying reCapacha has to go!!! Tiresome.

  33. 21 Posted by Frank Gieske on 06 Dec, 2017 02:11 PM

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    No, I would try to find something similar and the switch.

    I almost stopped using 1password over this, but they still offer also the "normal" pay for upgrade, although it is buried somewhere deep in their website.

  34. 22 Posted by Robbie on 06 Dec, 2017 02:24 PM

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    @Frank Gieske I dumped 1Password and moved to Enpass on iOS and desktop.

  35. 23 Posted by jzadra on 06 Dec, 2017 08:21 PM

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    No. I would stop using it.

  36. 24 Posted by Ted Ellis on 06 Dec, 2017 09:13 PM

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    On December 6, 2017 at 12:21:38 PM, jzadra ([email blocked]) wrote:

  37. 25 Posted by tdiaz on 06 Dec, 2017 10:20 PM

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    As for SetApp? Yeah, just great. More background processes running .. monitoring stuff.. wonderful. The model to install perpetually with upgrades for a reasonable amount of time has well for 30 something years now..

    Make a kick ass product, you won't need to worry about a money flow.

    I had to click on 11 "roads" before it would let me post. Some of them were barely even roads. This is getting stupid.

  38. Path Finder Support Team closed this discussion on 07 Dec, 2017 07:12 PM.

  39. Path Finder Support Team re-opened this discussion on 07 Dec, 2017 07:12 PM

  40. 26 Posted by AnotherGuest on 15 Dec, 2017 11:33 AM

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    Imagine that you purchase a dining chair (which normally costs £80 / $90) - but instead, the company sells it as a subscription for $5 per month.. ..and the same with your fridge, the sofa, gardening tools and everything . Because this what subscription really means if you translate it to the "real" world.

    You could argue that the fabric on the chair won't last forever, and after 7-10 years - and you need to get a new one. But guess what: with Apple breaking everything with every freaking macOS updates, I can guarantee that your apps won't work properly on a macOS 1-2 years from now.

    And you will need a fix. And I am NOT talking about a "full version updates with new features". I am purely talking about a specific fix for the new macOS.

    In my opinion, a "fix for a new macOS" could be charged at a reasonable, low(!) price. Lower than the usual "new version" update price. I could accept the argument that "when you purchased the app, it was designed for macOS Sierra but not High Sierra. And on High Sierra, with have X, Y, Z issues." Fair enough, in this case it's up to me if I update my macOS and pay for POSSIBLE "fixes" or not. It's like moving to a new apartment with my old furniture: in the new place, the wall is so uneven, that I need to fix my wall mounted shelves.

    This model would have some impact on the app / macOS industry: If Apple keeps pushing out updates the are so bad that every app needs this "paid fix", then people's macOS update cycle might slow down from one year to 2-3 year. But maybe it's not such a bad thing as it will force Apple to make better quality updates that don't break things, and apps don't need "paid fixes".

    And on top of that, you can have the usual, full version update, with fancy new features. That's like replacing my fabric sofa with a new, leather sofa.

    But to pay subscription "just because".. never. Not a penny. And app subscription is different than music subscription. In music, you access an infinite amount of songs that you would never listen and pay for otherwise. Spotify is like going to a concert every day. While apps on the other hand are tools, like your mower, and by principle it shouldn't be subscription.

    You could still have short rentals (besides selling as one time fee app). It's for those who need a specific tool (your app), but only few times a year. For example, when doing some big hard drive tidy up tasks etc. They could rent out your app for a week for something so affordable, that they don't even think. It needs to be marketed this way, rather than calling it "subscription", as subscription has very negative connotation attached to it. I would also make reoccurring payment OFF by default, to create further trust in the rental process.

    Look at Affinity photo and designer, almost 90% identical to Photoshop and Illustrator. Exactly for this reason, it's becoming popular, more and more people are switching from Adobe Photoshop subscription. They realised that they can challenge Adobe. So switch to subscription, and you will be challenged.

  41. 27 Posted by Bob on 15 Dec, 2017 05:22 PM

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    They’ve already been challenged - there are many alternatives available.
    Most require a subscription in the form of annual fees for premium options.

    If my choices were to use freeware, use one of the non-premium versions or pay for a subscription, I’d definitely choose the first two.

    LastPass is free to download and a yearly subscription to LastPass Premium is $11.99, which gets you unlimited sync across an unlimited number of devices, a shared family folder, premium multifactor authentication options, and priority tech support.

    Dashlane is free to download and use, and you can subscribe to a year of its premium service for $39.99, 3 years for $99.99, and 5 years for $149.99.

    Keeper is free to download, and you'll get local password storage for one device, as well as email support. For $29.99 per year, you'll get unlimited password storage, unlimited sync across an unlimited number of devices, unlimited secure cloud backup, fingerprint login, and more.

    RoboForm Free saves 10 logins from which you have access on mobile devices, PCs and Macs.
    RoboForm Everywhere is $9.95 for the first year and then increases to $19.95/year. You get unlimited stored logins and free upgrades.
    RoboForm Desktop is $29.95 for the first license and $9.95 for each additional license. This version works on a single computer and has no online storage or syncing. You get unlimited stored logins and free minor updates. You only need one license per computer and it works on Macs and PCs.
    RoboForm2Go 7 – $39.95 per license. Stores all your passwords, logins, bookmarks, etc., on a USB to use on any Windows-based computer anywhere in the world.

    EnPass is totally free — no subscription required for premium features.

    Here’s a fairly recent comparison of several of the top password managers:

  42. Path Finder Support Team closed this discussion on 16 Dec, 2017 03:36 PM.

  43. Path Finder Support Team re-opened this discussion on 16 Dec, 2017 03:36 PM

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