April 9, 2021

Software update craze & subscription model rip off

I watched several Facebook threads of disgruntled users in the QuarkXpress user group and it really is sad to notice the disdain of software companies like Apple, Google Adobe and Quark (not to mention Microsoft) towards their users, many of whom have been loyal for decades. Users who find that the software for which they paid, no longer works, commonly tend to become displeased, but companies that provide software seem to be less bothered by the fact that their products fail to deliver. Such an implausible attitude of course contributes to the user discontent.

I used Quark up to the 2016 version until it crashed beyond repair. In the past the program has shown great potential, that was so good in fact that I never needed the assistance of their support department. Plus, I like to dive into matters and figure out how to get things to work. But the industry's upgrade frenzy finally got me, which is to be blamed on the fact that an increasing chunk of the upgrading and support requires an on line connection to the companies' servers. When support for a version has been terminated or the software on the server does not work, it simply means there will be no support. Period. 

Force to subscibe and therefore auto-update

The companies' urge to increasingly rapidly upgrade, goes hand in hand with a decreasing inclination to provide proper service and support, because those things add little to their intention to make immediate profits, since they have to continually please their shareholders, whose sole interest is the dividend corporations listed in the stock exchange will pay (or not). To put it differently: They don't give a toss about client satisfaction. It may sound rather crude, but that actually is what it comes down to.

Dealing with this situation is increasingly difficult for the software companies' customers, whose profit / survival money goes out the window when the coercive corporate upgrade craze causes them to be unable to continue their business. Mainly because companies ceased to support usually older versions or properly maintain the upgrade and support software on their servers. 

Adobe's subscription model's main purpose - besides gaining disproportionately huge profits - is to force their entire user base into accepting and paying for their upgrade policy without the need to spend time and money on promoting and selling upgrades for a fee and offering support to customers that run into trouble after upgrading. Do not give clients the option to choose whether or not they want to upgrade, just force them to use whatever upgrade the company feels is necessary and make them pay for it. If they decline this 'offer' simply refuse to let them use the software, which makes them unable to access files they have created earlier with  the software.

Being the market leader in the main stream of the graphic art, publishing and printing industry, allowed Adobe to get away with this user unfriendly strategy. Clients that disagreed with their new approach and turned their back on the behemoth often found themselves in a place void of solutions to their professional problems and an abundance of workarounds necessary to get the job at hand done if they are available at all.

Not long after Adobe forced their users into a mortgage like payment system, its competition began to pick up on the advantages of the more or less concealed aspects of that rip off model, that makes their business a lot easier, while ensuring a more steady and predictable profit, which prevented them from ending up in a nasty dispute with their all powerful shareholders. The fact that it also caused them to land in disagreement with their users does not bother them to the extent that made them willing to change their policy. 

An other detrimental effect of the upscaling of the upgrade pace is the fact that developers have their panties twisted. Doing more work in less time with fewer people is an unfailing recipe for causing stress and discomfort, which commonly results in an increased number of errors or bugs in the software. This in turn makes it hard for clients who use the buggy software to produce decent files within the deadline limits. But as long as shareholders see their bank accounts grow fat, there is little to worry about for the management of software corporations. At least, that is what they think they can afford to assume in the short term.

Assumption is the mother of all evil

In the long run however, the world is an entirely different place. While developers end up gulping Prozac or relocate to an asylum and clients of the software companies go bankrupt, managers simply continue their career in a next project, where they repeat their mistakes for a generous fee. Reproducing blunders is what is generally meant by experience in resumes - the more often a person repeats his or her mistakes, the more experienced (s)he is considered to be. This is how modern market reason works. It is meritocracy interpreted in the most harmful way possible. But since everybody does it, only few notice it is a disastrous perception. 

Because in the end earning money and making profits only is possible when there is production of things that markets need. In order to be able to continue this type of symbiosis the produce has to work properly. If this isn't the case, that market segment will at some point collapse. This implosion will affect those involved in the perpetuation of that particular portion of the trade. Some may be able to venture into different directions, but many will just suffer the consequence of mankind's aversion to admit that caring for all is possible only in a logical setting. Limitless greed does not comply with this universal principle.

Regardless of how affluent one is, how influential, how well educated, well dressed and respected because of ones pretended sincerity and empathy, a carefully concealed greed ridden mindset will ultimately destroy any collaboration that was established, in which the producing portion of the factions involved was kept in the dark about the unbalanced reward method of that system. The sad part of such events is that the system's break down harms those who were held unaware of the deceitful nature of the setup.