Writing tool Ulysses for macOS, iOS shifts to monthly $4.99 subscription model

Posted:
in Mac Software edited August 2017
Effective immediately, writing tool Ulysses is switching to a subscription model after having been a paid app for iOS and macOS since launch.




Rather than separate purchases offered for the last 14 years of the program's life, the Ulysses developers are offering a $4.99 per month, or $39.99 per year subscription for use of both the macOS app and iOS version. Students can use the apps for $11.99 for a six month period.

Previous purchasers of Ulysses get a lifetime discount on the yearly plan. While the developers are citing a 50 percent discount on the monthly plan, the plan for previous purchasers is $29.99 -- a 25 percent discount when compared to the annual plan.

Recent purchasers get a free-use period of 18 months, depending on purchase location, and when the title was bought. However, there is currently a back-and-forth with the developers, with the developer noting that recent purchasers can get either the free period, or the lifetime discount -- for now.

There's been some confusion about the free-use vs. lifetime discount for existing users. It's either one or the other for now.

-- Ulysses (@ulyssesapp)


The previous single-purchase versions have been removed from sale. The last update to the app added High Sierra and iOS 11 compatibility -- but also now have a splash-screen ad at launch promoting the subscription version.

New features to the app will be added only to the subscription version. No guarantees are being made about long-term compatibility with future versions of Apple's operating systems.

In a post on Medium, developer Max Seelemann discussed the rationale behind the shift. Seelemann claims that the developer team has been considering the shift for two years, and it was the "hardest decision in our whole time as professional software developers."

Ulysses is included in MacPaw's Setapp subscription service. Setapp costs $9.99 per month -- twice what Ulysses costs alone on a month-to-month basis, but includes far more apps than just the writing tool. An update for the Setapp version is coming in the next few weeks to unlock the iOS version as well.

AppleInsider examined Ulysses in December, and found it to be better for lots of short writing, with competitive product Scrivener better for long-form books and other materials.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 35
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,556member
    I don't have anything against the subscription model, but I think you need to offer something unique and cloud-centric to sell it to your customers. Ulysses is a markdown editor in a sea of markdown editors, and all it uses the cloud for is file storage. I'm not sure this is enough to make this fly. 
    StrangeDayscornchiptzm41jbdragon
  • Reply 2 of 35
    appexappex Posts: 687member
    Deal breaker!
    jbdragon
  • Reply 3 of 35
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,215member
    I'd pay an annual sub for a dev tool that made me more efficient.  I suppose those that make money with writing will see the annual sub as acceptable. 

    In the long term subscriptions aren't going to work for every developer. 
    cornchip
  • Reply 4 of 35
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,339administrator
    I'd pay an annual sub for a dev tool that made me more efficient.  I suppose those that make money with writing will see the annual sub as acceptable. 

    In the long term subscriptions aren't going to work for every developer. 
    I don't have a problem with the shift to the subscription model -- the times they are a' changin' and all. 

    What I have a problem with is how it was handled in this case. If you dropped the $50 on your non-subscription app, you're now sitting through a time locked loading page where it exhorts you to pay for the subscription -- that is totally unacceptable.

    Also, peddling the purchaser discount as a 50% discount over the monthly sub isn't wrong, but its not accurate given the cost of the annual sub for non-purchasers.
    edited August 2017 hmurchisonvlscoutsergiozjbdragon
  • Reply 5 of 35
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,782member
    appex said:
    Deal breaker!
    Freetard
  • Reply 6 of 35
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,215member
    I'd pay an annual sub for a dev tool that made me more efficient.  I suppose those that make money with writing will see the annual sub as acceptable. 

    In the long term subscriptions aren't going to work for every developer. 
    I don't have a problem with the shift to the subscription model -- the times they are a' changin' and all. 

    What I have a problem with is how it was handled in this case. If you dropped the $50 on your non-subscription app, you're now sitting through a time locked loading page where it exhorts you to pay for the subscription -- that is totally unacceptable.

    Also, peddling the purchaser discount as a 50% discount over the monthly sub isn't wrong, but its not accurate given the cost of the annual sub for non-purchasers.
    Yup most of the anger for existing owners is centering around these two issues.    Look like i'll ignore the update for now. 
  • Reply 7 of 35
    I understand subscription model as a continuous flow of cash for the developers. Previously, Ulyses cost: for Mac $44.99, for iPhone and iPad $24.99. Now it cost $39.99 if you pay year upfront. That means that the non-subscription price is worth for 11 months of the new deal. In other words, what was eternal becomes yearly! OK, take into account that iOS changes every year and the software can work for 3 years (or the device you are using lives that time). Then, the developer is doing a 300% increase in price. That's what bothers me. Taking again the non-sub-price of $44.99 divided by 3 years and 12 months will give $1.25- Monthly subscription is $4.99 so 4.99/1.25=3.99… 400% Of course I like a 300/400% increase in my revenues! But I still think this is unfair.
    cornchipjbdragonavon b7
  • Reply 8 of 35
    HyperealityHypereality Posts: 35unconfirmed, member
    That's a pity.  No problem if existing users are grandfathered fairly, but this seems ill thought through. 
    As a developer myself I'd like to switch at least some users to a premium subscription,  but I was planning on keeping to a freemium model. 
    And I will only bring this in for purchasers of a new app,  not owners of the existing iOS app. 
    I think its fairer and customer goodwill is easily lost. 

    Ulysses was a nice app to use, but not indispensable.  Its syncing capabilities were great but I also have Scrivener and have been looking at Quiver. I can find an alternative that won't add to that ever increasing subscription bill every month. 
  • Reply 9 of 35
    Enough of these stupid subscription models! Let all developers know what we think of them by just not being them. Maybe they will finally come to reason...
    cornchiprotateleftbytejbdragoncharlesatlasmagman1979avon b7
  • Reply 10 of 35
    lkrupp said:
    appex said:
    Deal breaker!
    Freetard
    How is preferring to pay for a perpetual license instead of paying software-rent being a freetard????
    macseekerStrangeDayscornchiprotateleftbytetzm41jbdragonentropysavon b7
  • Reply 11 of 35
    lkrupp said:
    appex said:
    Deal breaker!
    Freetard
    I don't disagree with the original poster.

    I don't see anything in this app that warrants $40 a year when there are free alternatives out there that do the same thing.

    I looked at Ulysses and thought does the app do more than the other apps, free or paid, that I currently use and came to the conclusion that it costs more than the ones I currently use and does less than them as well.

    So to me Ulysses' subscription model is more of a money grab than something valuable.
    cornchip
  • Reply 12 of 35

    lmasanti said:
    I understand subscription model as a continuous flow of cash for the developers. Previously, Ulyses cost: for Mac $44.99, for iPhone and iPad $24.99. Now it cost $39.99 if you pay year upfront. That means that the non-subscription price is worth for 11 months of the new deal. In other words, what was eternal becomes yearly! OK, take into account that iOS changes every year and the software can work for 3 years (or the device you are using lives that time). Then, the developer is doing a 300% increase in price. That's what bothers me. Taking again the non-sub-price of $44.99 divided by 3 years and 12 months will give $1.25- Monthly subscription is $4.99 so 4.99/1.25=3.99… 400% Of course I like a 300/400% increase in my revenues! But I still think this is unfair.
    What I want to know, as it's not really outlined in the article, is does this subscription have to be paid for iOS and macOS or does it cover both?
  • Reply 13 of 35
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,339administrator

    lmasanti said:
    I understand subscription model as a continuous flow of cash for the developers. Previously, Ulyses cost: for Mac $44.99, for iPhone and iPad $24.99. Now it cost $39.99 if you pay year upfront. That means that the non-subscription price is worth for 11 months of the new deal. In other words, what was eternal becomes yearly! OK, take into account that iOS changes every year and the software can work for 3 years (or the device you are using lives that time). Then, the developer is doing a 300% increase in price. That's what bothers me. Taking again the non-sub-price of $44.99 divided by 3 years and 12 months will give $1.25- Monthly subscription is $4.99 so 4.99/1.25=3.99… 400% Of course I like a 300/400% increase in my revenues! But I still think this is unfair.
    What I want to know, as it's not really outlined in the article, is does this subscription have to be paid for iOS and macOS or does it cover both?
    One sub covers both.
  • Reply 14 of 35
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,449member
    What a chump I was to buy the mac and ios versions. I haven't even used them... and now never will.
    Ta-ta Ulysses.
  • Reply 15 of 35
    coolfactorcoolfactor Posts: 1,429member
    lhangart said:
    Enough of these stupid subscription models! Let all developers know what we think of them by just not being them. Maybe they will finally come to reason...

    I'm split. I'm still using an old version of OmniGraffle because the upgrade price is too high for my budget. The app keeps working ... a plus for the one-time purchase model ... but I don't get any updates or new features.

    I'm also a SetApp subscriber, so one low monthly fee gets me access to dozens of apps. Stop paying and the apps cease to work (do they?... never tested that).

    I think one subscription per app is too overwhelming... the SetApp approach is better, and I think there's room for that model to be refined. Imagine an "App Store Bundle"... one fee covering many apps. 
    edited August 2017 cornchip
  • Reply 16 of 35
    Scrivener is better for serious writing and the developer hates the subscription model. I'll stick to that. 
    cornchip
  • Reply 17 of 35
    chasmchasm Posts: 1,263member
    cpsro said:
    What a chump I was to buy the mac and ios versions. I haven't even used them... and now never will.
    Ta-ta Ulysses.
    Hang on. If you haven't upgraded to yesterday's version, you're still good for at least another year, possibly much longer. The penultimate upgrade (the one before yesterday) allowed the versions to work with iOS 11 and High Sierra, and the developer has said they may work well beyond that but will be unsupported.

    Since you paid for them, you might as well get on that book project (or whatever) you originally paid for them for, at least give them a spin. For you, they'll continue to work for an indefinite period of time, free of any charge. If you failed to upgrade to the most recent-bar-one version, you'll have to upgrade to the current one (which throws up an ad but otherwise works fine).
  • Reply 18 of 35
    cornchipcornchip Posts: 1,244member
    lmasanti said:
    I understand subscription model as a continuous flow of cash for the developers. Previously, Ulyses cost: for Mac $44.99, for iPhone and iPad $24.99. Now it cost $39.99 if you pay year upfront. That means that the non-subscription price is worth for 11 months of the new deal. In other words, what was eternal becomes yearly! OK, take into account that iOS changes every year and the software can work for 3 years (or the device you are using lives that time). Then, the developer is doing a 300% increase in price. That's what bothers me. Taking again the non-sub-price of $44.99 divided by 3 years and 12 months will give $1.25- Monthly subscription is $4.99 so 4.99/1.25=3.99… 400% Of course I like a 300/400% increase in my revenues! But I still think this is unfair.
    As a creative, and wanting to go indie some day, this is troubling. These subscription based plans are taking over the creative software industry. Eventually only the big shots are going to be able to afford all these subscriptions. I'll need a subscription to CC, Fusion360, sketchbook pro, ProCreate, Astropad, my web hosting, file transfer etc, etc, etc. this crap adds up. Quick. As another poster pointed out, I don't see how this is going to be a viable strategy long term.
    edited August 2017
  • Reply 19 of 35
    dreyfus2dreyfus2 Posts: 1,070member
    Paid for both and liked them. But I have not even received the features I have paid for originally, like reliable syncing. Deleted it from all Macs and my iPad. Byword and Marked do most of the stuff I need for far less without monthly money for nothing. Added to the gravesite of apps I have used for very long times (TextExpander, 1Password, NovaMind, Dreamweaver, Illustrator) and now do just fine without them.
    hmurchison
  • Reply 20 of 35
    cornchip said:
     I'll need a subscription to CC, Fusion360, sketchbook pro, ProCreate, Astropad, my web hosting, file transfer etc, etc, etc. this crap adds up. Quick. As another poster pointed out, I don't see how this is going to be a viable strategy long term.
    Exactly my thoughts about software and entertainment
    You could have written on a different topic...

     I'll need a subscription to NetFlix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Spotify, Apple music, Disney, Broadband etc, etc, etc. this crap adds up.

    How many $4.99, $5.99, $9.99, $19.99 or even $179 (Altova Mission Kit (I was a software developer)) can your income justify?

    We don't have bottomless wallets. We are being squeezed for cash on many fronts yet still more and more products are going to the monthly sucking of money from your bank model. Something has to break somewhere.
    For me, I subscribe to CC and my Broadband/phone and that's it. Even there, I've cut my BB speeds and saved $90/year.
    YMMV
    cornchip
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