Sparkle 2.8 pricing

We need apologize for, and clarify, Sparkle’s pricing communication.

Some customers are concerned that as Sparkle Pro purchasers, they are now automatically opted into a Sparkle Pro subscription.

This is troubling because it suggests a poor opinion of our business practices. We are not that kind of company.

So setting the record straight here:

  1. you can trust us to never charge the cost of something you haven’t expressly asked for, we never would.
  2. there is in fact no technical way for us to charge you money if you haven’t authorized it, we sell Sparkle via the Mac App Store and via paddle.com, they have your credit card information or your PayPal account number, and we have no technical means to force a transaction for an account that wasn’t originally a subscription plan. On both channels a purchase is very clearly labelled as recurring, and that’s the only way you opt-in to a subscription.
  3. even if we did have the technical means to charge your credit card (we don’t), the legal basis would be very shaky, why would we want to risk our company, our reputation and Sparkle on this?

With all that out of the way, I realize the user interface of the “Your License” screen in Sparkle is confusing, and might suggest you have a subscription if you have a Sparkle Pro license, because it’s straight under the “Sparkle Pro” column.

We introduced subscription as an option, because we think some customers will prefer it. “Who would prefer a subscription” you ask?

First, the first time cost of the Sparkle Pro subscription is significantly lower than the perpetual Sparkle Pro license. $71.99 vs. $119.99, so 60% lower.

I don’t think anybody expects software that is regularly maintained, with new features added all the time, to never have upgrade pricing. That would be disingenuous. Worse, it would be bad strategy. By using Sparkle you are investing in Sparkle’s future, you want Sparkle to live on as long as possible.

This brings us to the second reason you might want to subscribe. At some point in the future we will be adding features that aren’t included in Sparkle Pro (perpetual license). Purchasers of Sparkle Pro will need to pay to get the additional features, though it will be entirely optional. But Sparkle Pro subscribers will get those additional features included in the subscription.

So to reiterate, we will be introducing a package of features at a cost, the subscription will include that, whereas the one time purchase won’t. At that time you will have the option to buy the package, subscribe, or keep using Sparkle without it.

The third reason to subscribe is supporting the development of a truly innovative software platform that brings communicating on the web out of the realm of tech-heads and mega corporations.

As of 2.8 nothing has changed for existing customers.

With all that said, you should still strongly consider subscribing. We have a huge list of features we are working on, it is not a public roadmap, but I’m sure you will like it.

If your business revolves around Sparkle-generated sites, Sparkle provides a whole lot of value to you. You can think of the subscription as a way of funding development and showing your support for our small team. Or pre-paying for features that you’ll be buying anyway when they come.

We are very thankful for every dollar, euro, pound and yen you decide to spend on Sparkle. We turn all the money into cool software. We are partners in this.

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A big thank you for the clear and concise explanation and I love the end bits… “We have a huge list of features we are working on” and “Or pre-paying for features that you’ll be buying anyway when they come.”! :slight_smile:

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Thanks Duncan for the clarification! I ‘m a very happy Sparkle customer but use it essentially to build the site for my own company.
I choosed this application because it is very easy and one can build very beautiful and functional sites without a single line of html…
Non-the-less, I feel the need for blog functionalities and I’m thinking to invest on a 3rd party solution, which will be costly. It would be great to have access at least to a basic roadmap of the product so we can better plan our moves. I’d feel really upset if I’d invest in 3rd party solution and six months later you’d include similar functionality…

Blogging is one of the top requests we get. It will come at some point, but I can’t really comment on the timing.

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Thanks, Duncan for the clarification. I believe strongly people are buying sparkleapp because of the one-time payment to cut down cost, but as you rightly said for the sake of supporting the continued development of sparkleapp, I rather prefer, that is my suggestion though, letting your customer buy sparkleapp again after some period of years or when there is a major upgrade for half the price. For now, you’re not seeing you’re ROI because you don’t have lots of customers. Look at the Affinity designer and photo (Serif) marketing strategy against Adobe. They even won apple best illustration software, why because it has all the bells and whistles to compete with the most powerful illustrator in the world from Adobe. Are they not doing well? Have a look at some of the comments made by users of Adobe Photoshop and illustrator, they are opting out because of Adobe’s subscription package. The company that developed Swift publisher used similar marketing strategy buy the new version for half the price if you already have the old version, and its during very well in the books of Apple store.
When people get to know how great sparkleapp is performing, they will buy into it. We have a lot of homework to do, including the users. Create more tutorials, blog more on sparkleapp, allow reviewers to rate sparkleapp with five stars and stuff like that. I believe sparkle will definitely get there at the end of the day. All am saying is that there are great apps out there competing, so make it easier on the few users you have. We are all ready to support you. Thanks

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You express a common sentiment, but I don’t really agree with your analysis or conclusions.

Sparkle isn’t really a clone of other software, and in fact is unique in how it approaches web design. It’s not an undifferentiated, commodity market. This gives us pricing freedom.

I disagree that people buy Sparkle because it’s a one time purchase, certainly some people strongly prefer paying once, and some are even repulsed by subscription, but you can hardly compare Sparkle’s $70/year with Adobe’s $600+.

Also we are not dropping one time purchases, we are adding subscription. But you can expect the one time purchase licensees to need (or want to) buy upgrades.

As per successful companies, you can always point at some and say “do what they do”. First, in many cases there are non-repeatable events, call it ability or call it luck. We can’t wish an Apple design award into existence. Second, it’s the a lottery mentality that I don’t have any sympathy for. You also don’t appear to consider the strategy of growing a user base (when you are as large as Serif is) to then start charging for updates like Sketch did.

On the flip side, there are plenty examples of companies that discontinued their software because revenues were insufficient, even in web design, Freeway is an example: many if their users just skipped paid upgrades year after year, until they shut down (they have since rebooted).

Or perhaps the software was cheap or free, and it was good, but the company sells out to Google and the software is shut down. Maybe it was the founder goal all along, maybe they weren’t making enough money with the product. Either way, not the desired outcome.

I’ll repeat what I said in the original post: it is unrealistic to think that a regularly maintained and updated software will be free or nearly free for years. It’s a way of thinking about software that is no longer current.

Some of our customers build a new website every month for a paying customer, contact us maybe 2/3 times per site, and earn a living from Sparkle. We love this. But we do think we are providing way more value than we are making back, and that needs to change a bit.

I understand the spirit of your post, and we have not switched entirely to subscription so there’s really little need to advocate for one time purchases. We definitely want to balance the two payment models, but we also are determined to grow and invest into Sparkle, build great new features for everybody to make you more successful. This requires strong, consistent funding. We can’t get there by being the cheap off-brand knock off app that costs pennies.

Again I strongly encourage anybody here who is at all interested about the future of Sparkle, and who can afford it, to purchase the subscription.

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Duncan - I can’t recall if I got a perpetual (lifetime?) license, or what… can you let me know where I stand and what I need to do to make that happen, if I’m not already in that class?

If we can’t live without it, we’ll pay whatever it costs.

This is the true incentive developers have: to be able to charge more, because they keep keep making software I increasingly can’t live without.

I support this! Thanks for being straight, Duncan.

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I answered this privately.