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?


Showing page 2 out of 2. View the first page

  1. 31 Posted by tatami on 25 May, 2018 05:08 PM

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    No, I would not be prepared to pay a subscription.

  2. 32 Posted by Peter on 25 May, 2018 06:03 PM

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    never a subscription for what you delivered with PF8. have been using PF for 6 years now. after seeing this new version, and the license changements I switched to Forklift now.

  3. 33 Posted by John on 25 May, 2018 07:55 PM

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    I'm not even willing to upgrade to PF8 due to the sidebar issues let alone pay a subscription.

  4. 34 Posted by boreham on 25 May, 2018 08:18 PM

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    I recognise the necessity for Software Developers to be paid and have nothing against the subscription model in principle. My experience with Adobe CC, Office 365 and 1Password has been good.

    So my answer is yes if the price is right,

  5. 35 Posted by 4doyle on 25 May, 2018 09:17 PM

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    Short answer, No

    Long answer, Hell No

  6. Path Finder Support Team closed this discussion on 26 May, 2018 12:38 AM.

  7. Path Finder Support Team re-opened this discussion on 26 May, 2018 12:38 AM

  8. 36 Posted by mwoffenden on 26 May, 2018 12:43 AM

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    Yes, IF developer delivered first class support, timely releases in time for major OS releases, and rapid fixing of any bugs in the product.

  9. 37 Posted by chriswayg on 26 May, 2018 11:47 AM

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    NO! I want to be able to choose when to get a paid upgrade. For most software that may be every 3 years or so. Unless the yearly subscription is max. 33% of the upgrade price, I will likely switch to an alternative. So far I have paid $60 for 6 years, and may not upgrade to version 8 for another year.

    For example, I did not switch to a subscription for 1 Password. And Path Finder has no shared Password and no need to provide data in the cloud.

  10. 38 Posted by Heiko on 26 May, 2018 01:21 PM

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    Is this a joke? Updates every couple of years, and then paying monthly?!


  11. 39 Posted by Bob on 26 May, 2018 01:26 PM

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    That’s how they getcha. :-)

    It’s like owning a house - you pay monthly, and then every couple years you make a big payment for some repair or upgrade.

    But you’re not building equity here.

  12. Path Finder Support Team closed this discussion on 26 May, 2018 05:28 PM.

  13. Path Finder Support Team re-opened this discussion on 26 May, 2018 05:28 PM

  14. 40 Posted by Steel58 on 26 May, 2018 06:50 PM

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    I would add my "No" to the list of those opposed to a subscription-based service for PF. However, Stu.Farnham made a good point about ensuring there is incentive for developers to continue creating/updating products for the public. However, I don't think the subscriptions do anything more than provide a positive cash flow for the developer without necessarily providing a benefit to the subscriber. There would be no compelling reason (except maybe competition) for a developer to add features, improve functionality or address compatibility issues when Apple makes a new Mac OS available.

    I believe the best way for a developer to approach upgrades and to ensure viability is to provide value in each upgrade and to charge an appropriate fee to users who wish to upgrade. If users don't perceive value in the upgrade then they don't have to upgrade and they can continue to use their current version without fear of a sunset clause in their EULA. And if users see value in the upgrade, Cocoatech will benefit.

    In order for good software to be available, there has to be something of benefit for the developer and it needs to be sustainable for them and affordable for users. There is nothing more laughable than reading Apple App Store app reviews where users rant about their dissatisfaction with free app functionality or support. You just don't get something for nothing - developers are not charities.

    The race to the bottom has created a marketplace of unrealistic expectations. The architects of these expectations include Apple and developers as well as users.

    In announcing PF8 (May 20 blog), Cocoatech went to great lengths to explain all the backroom work that went into the latest version. Quite, frankly, I don't care. It was very telling, however, that it was pointed out that the overhaul is far from being over. I'm not sure, as a user being asked to pay for an upgrade that this is what I want to be reading.

    Whatever was Cocoatech's motivation was for launching the “Not Ready for Prime-time” PF8, I think the "loyal" users mentioned deserve an honest explanation for the sorry state of the app with a realistic timeline for the critical issues to be resolved.

    I would like to think Cocoatech would address this sooner rather than later. For me, I'll be working with PF7.6.2 until it no longer serves as the productive tool it has been or Cocoatech can provide a credible reason for me to upgrade (or use Forklift 3).

  15. 41 Posted by Daniel on 26 May, 2018 09:00 PM

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    NO, no and: no
    I am willing to go back to the Finder if you go towards a subscription model.

  16. 42 Posted by Stever Robbins on 26 May, 2018 10:13 PM

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    I would be willing under the provision that if I cancel my subscription, the software continues to function at the last functionality level I had when the subscription was active. I've been burned before by subscription software that stopped working when the company in question got sold or went out of business. Having my productivity tied directly to the health of some random software company is a deal-breaker for me.

  17. 43 Posted by JMichaelTX on 26 May, 2018 10:21 PM

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    RE: Post #40 by @Steel58

    I strongly agree with most everything @Steel58 said in post #40, especially this:

    I believe the best way for a developer to approach upgrades and to ensure viability is to provide value in each upgrade and to charge an appropriate fee to users who wish to upgrade. If users don't perceive value in the upgrade then they don't have to upgrade and they can continue to use their current version without fear of a sunset clause in their EULA. And if users see value in the upgrade, Cocoatech will benefit.

    I agree that is the best way to motivate owners/developers of PF, and provide real value to their users.

  18. 44 Posted by Bob on 26 May, 2018 11:19 PM

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    I see mentions of Forklift, but that appears to be primarily a transfer client, not a Finder replacement.

    As an advanced home user, I think I’ve only used FTP once in all my years of computing, and only when a link and instructions were sent to me to download a single file.

    Correct me if I’m wrong (and I know ya’ll will), but it doesn’t look to me like Forklift is capable of doing 90% of what PF7 can do.

    I have no intention of upgrading from Sierra to High Sierra and unless significant improvements are made to PF8 I won’t be installing it again, either.

    Didn’t the subscription model begin with Adobe’s Creative Suite?
    And it offered access to all the CC apps for one monthly fee instead of shelling out a buttload of money for the suite.

    "CS customers typically only bought a subset of Adobe's products; the full Master Collection costs a whopping $2,500. With the CC model, though, they get access to all the software. That means customers can try new software.

    Some might fear that once they're signed up for Creative Cloud subscriptions, they're subject to Adobe's pricing whims. Buying perpetual licenses for Adobe software has never been cheap, but customers knew they'd be able to use it without any unwelcome price-hike surprises."

    That could be considered a great value for those who have a need for a majority of apps in the suite and can’t /won’t fork over the price of a used car to get them.

    A subscription for a $40 app seems ludicrous to me! It seems immensely more sensible to just pay another $40 in a couple years if/when a new (and worthy) version of PF is released. And any bug fixes or improvements in incremental versions should be priced into the initial purchase.

    If Cocoatech isn’t able to keep their doors open by selling a single piece of software for a reasonable price, then perhaps it’s time to expand their offerings (Forklift competitor?) or sell the business to a larger and/or more competent developer. Micromat and Koingo come to mind because they both offer an array of software.

    Though I’m not sure how they could handle additional development when they’re barely able to support the single piece of software that is their entire reason for existence.

  19. Path Finder Support Team closed this discussion on 27 May, 2018 04:02 PM.

  20. Path Finder Support Team re-opened this discussion on 27 May, 2018 04:02 PM

  21. 45 Posted by Stephan on 27 May, 2018 08:14 PM

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    NO !!!!
    I've waited for months, in several cases more than 1,5 year for bugfixes. So I'm not ready to pay a subscription. If you will change to that model - bye bye finder. So I will wait also upgrading to PF 8, it seems to be to buggy.

  22. Path Finder Support Team closed this discussion on 28 May, 2018 03:20 PM.

  23. Path Finder Support Team re-opened this discussion on 28 May, 2018 03:20 PM

  24. 46 Posted by bob.deskin on 29 Sep, 2018 10:31 PM

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    I don't like subscription models because, as someone said, it's a rental. If you stop paying rent, you can't even keep using the version you're currently on, even if you don't want updates. That plus the concern that if the company goes under or the developer stops support, you have nothing. As well, I've yet to see a subscription from smaller companies that is truly reasonable compared to an annual or bi-annual upgrade.

  25. 47 Posted by tosbsas on 29 Sep, 2018 11:45 PM

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    No way - support is kind of flaky and we are talking about a program that after 5 months of official beta of the OS we still don't have a dark mode and simple stuff is not working. I am trying to stay with pathfinder as I like the overflow interface, but they are making it really hard.

    Subscription models may be interesting for 3 USD apps, but this is way more

  26. 48 Posted by doublesupercool on 30 Sep, 2018 05:12 AM

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    Nope. Subscription models for most things need to die. The basic fact is, they are done to ensure consistent income for the provider. They rarely provide too many benefits for the end user.

    As for using Adobe as an example, yeeeeeeaaahhh, the year on year crazy increases in prices are how NOT to do subscriptions. They just have people by the short and curlies because they are the industry standard.

    @Bob, Creative Cloud subs are almost $900/year in Australia. That is insane. Instead of being able to buy the one or two apps you need and use them in perpetuity (in computer terms), you are up for close to $1000/year. They offer so cut down versions, but you can't choose WHICH apps you get.

    Also how not to do it: Like the guy who develops the Japanese dictionary app I use. It is a great app. I have paid for it. I paid for all his extensions to support them. He decided that he wasn't getting enough money to justify development (fair enough, it is niche), so he decided to move to a subscription model. Okay. Oh, but wait, he put features that had been paid for in the core product now behind the subscription paywall, so suddenly the app that people had paid for had significantly less functionality than paid for.

    His point was that no one supported him on Patreon or gave him money and there wasn't enough sales to justify continued development. Okay, then stop. You picked the wrong software to develop if you wanted to make money. That was your choice. It is not our job to support your decision. If you stop developing and let the app die and that sucks for us as users, so be it. We will have to do without or move to something else.

    I have paid you for software. I have paid you for updates. My job is not to finance your ongoing development. If the development is worth it, I will pay for it. If you want capitalism and free markets, that's capitalism and free markets.

  27. Path Finder Support Team closed this discussion on 30 Sep, 2018 02:32 PM.

  28. Path Finder Support Team re-opened this discussion on 30 Sep, 2018 02:33 PM

  29. 49 Posted by grmm on 30 Sep, 2018 04:07 PM

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    I understand the business case for subscription BUT it needs to be worth it. I keep moving away from PF because it crashes too much for me to use. I want to use and as soon as an update comes out I update and start using again. Without fail if I leave it long enough it crashes and I have to force quit. This has been the case for too long. Subscription models do not work well when you expect your users to be beta testers. Maybe I need to have a look at Forklift too.

  30. 50 Posted by Bob on 30 Sep, 2018 09:15 PM

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    Grmm, I assume you mean freezing, not crashing? Because when an app crashes, it closes itself - you don’t need to force quit.

    I’ve rarely encountered a PF crash, though I have seen plenty of SBBOD.
    Sometimes they resolve, sometimes I force quit.

    After a very brief test of v8 I reverted to v7 and haven’t "upgraded" again (AS IF!).

    I think this is the first I’ve heard of a focus bug - at least I don’t recall experiencing this issue when tab-switching apps. I did search and find many complaints about it - most of them related to workspaces (which I don’t use).

    I’ve already voiced my opinion of a subscription:

  31. 51 Posted by bob.deskin on 30 Sep, 2018 09:50 PM

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    I've made my feelings known earlier in this thread. Subscriptions are one of the reasons I've moved away from any Adobe products. And I usually look elsewhere if an app is only available by subscription. I don't mind paying for new features but I want the option.

    That said, I paid for the upgrade to PF8. Unlike many here, I like the new features and find them very useful. What I do expect, however, is that the product keep up with macOS changes in a reasonable timeframe. Since the mojave beta has been around for many months, there should have been more than enough time to make whatever changes were needed. I certainly do not want to be in the position of having to hold off a macOS upgrade because some apps are lagging.

  32. 52 Posted by Grmm on 30 Sep, 2018 10:08 PM

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    Bob, yes you are correct PF8 freezes. Whether it freezes or crashes - who cares bottom line is that it is frustrating

  33. Path Finder Support Team closed this discussion on 01 Oct, 2018 06:02 AM.

  34. Path Finder Support Team re-opened this discussion on 01 Oct, 2018 06:02 AM

  35. 53 Posted by arizonanorse on 01 Oct, 2018 07:57 PM

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    NO. and NO. NO. and NO. NO. and NO. NO. and NO. NO. and NO. NO. and NO. NO. and NO. NO. and NO. NO. and NO. NO. and NO. NO. and NO. NO. and NO. NO. and NO. NO. and NO. NO. and NO. NO. and NO. NO. and NO. NO. and NO. NO. and NO. NO. and NO. NO. and NO. NO. and NO. NO. and NO. NO. and NO. NO. and NO. NO. and NO. NO. and NO. NO. and NO. NO. and NO. NO. and NO. NO. and NO. NO. and NO. NO. and NO. NO. and NO. NO. and NO. NO. and NO. NO. and NO. NO. and NO.

  36. 54 Posted by dtoub on 01 Oct, 2018 09:16 PM

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    Just to be clear, your answer is no, right? It was a bit ambiguous ;-)

  37. Path Finder Support Team closed this discussion on 02 Oct, 2018 03:12 PM.

  38. Path Finder Support Team re-opened this discussion on 02 Oct, 2018 03:12 PM

  39. 55 Posted by ac99 on 08 Oct, 2018 07:28 AM

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    I would support a subscription model, but not until PF 8 is out of what is really 'beta' and certainly not anything that resembles stable or 'finished.'

  40. Path Finder Support Team closed this discussion on 08 Oct, 2018 09:02 AM.

  41. Path Finder Support Team re-opened this discussion on 08 Oct, 2018 09:03 AM

  42. 56 Posted by Hugo on 08 Oct, 2018 07:32 PM

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    No way.
    The day a subscription will be necessary, I will delete PathFinder immediately.
    Even if there'd be a "free" version with cropped functions.

  43. 57 Posted by jb on 08 Oct, 2018 08:07 PM

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    I would be completely willing and prepared to pay for updates, but I would drop PF like a hot rock if it became a subscription. The idea of paying in advance for development I haven't seen or don't even value is ludicrous. Charge me for updates, let me determine if and when I want them, and allow me keep what I've already purchased. As the markets slide into the greasy hole of subscription pricing, we will all be forced to limit our expenses to a diminishing number of tools. Few of us can afford an increasing number of additional subscriptions, so we keep the absolutely necessary and drop the rest. Think of how many apps are now subscription only, and add up the cost: that model is not sustainable.

    I've said it before: The subscription model will surely be the death of the app store. Charge me for an update that looks worthwhile, and I'm happy to pay. Bill me for time-limited access to an unknown development cycle and I'll pass.

  44. 58 Posted by J8ck on 09 Oct, 2018 12:29 PM

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    Subscription models rely upon trust in delivery of future maintenance and features.

    Running a business is never just about a product sitting on a shelf waiting for a customer to realize how wonderful it is...

    I'm not against subscription models, for PF it's not the right time to be discussing this, there are other hurdles to get over first.

  45. 59 Posted by Jeffrey B on 09 Oct, 2018 04:02 PM

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    I have tried use PF8 and found I would pay for this upgrade. I have been trying to use PF7. I like the ability to move files from rt to lt panes. But I'm finding that it it's too slow to be of practical value. Sync files between two Drobo took several days and never finished. I would not support the subscription - it's hard to justify the app at all.

  46. 60 Posted by ecpht on 10 Oct, 2018 12:20 AM

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    First of all - there's no way I'm giving another dollar unless PF8 is made to be as feature complete and solid as PF7 and I've been a paying customer (and made lots of referrals) since PF5. Only then we can talk about upgrading or moving to a subscription model.

  47. Path Finder Support Team closed this discussion on 10 Oct, 2018 08:32 AM.

  48. Path Finder Support Team re-opened this discussion on 10 Oct, 2018 08:32 AM

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