You’re asking users to replace perfectly functional software with software with a coin slot; if you stop feeding money into the meter, the software stops working. You have to give those users something in return.
This model of “if you stop paying, it stops working” is also the business model JetBrains has with the developers it employs. When a business’s revenues match its expenses it’s a lot happier and less prone to suddenly going out of business.
If JetBrains makes money from a customer once, or only once a year, they are constantly juggling whether they’ll get enough new customers in the door to keep the lights on each month. If a new product or update doesn’t sell as predicted, the company misses payroll and fails (look at how often this happens in video game studios and other single-sale oriented businesses). If the customers are paying for the ongoing maintenance of the software, it is perfectly clear to them whether they’ll be making payroll and how much they can afford to invest in the product and new products.
If you did something drastic - like cutting those prices in half - people might be far more willing to accept this software-as-a-service model.
JetBrains’s customers are very highly-paid professionals who can tax deduct it as a professional expense even if their employer doesn’t pay for it outright. They are not at all price-sensitive and it would be sheer folly to cut prices.
Basic business understanding is like network partions: it doesn’t matter if you want to understand it or enjoy the implications, that’s how the world works, there are good reasons for it, and if you don’t understand it you will be left puzzled and useless after your ignorance turns a small problem into a catastrophe.
I requested Jetbrains Ultimate. I got “ok” and a licence key. End of story.
Jetbrains is probably finding out that if their software is good enough, one-time buys don’t pay the bills anymore. Subscription licenses are common and will continue to be so in the enterprise; Jetbrains customers who pay the big $$ won’t even blink.
For readers who haven’t played in the enterprise space: it is perfectly feasible to have a 50K-500K/yr subscription after negotiations are all done. (I’ve been involved in this scale of discussion before, from the technical side, so personal experience talking).
The unusual part here to me (but maybe it’s not that unusual anymore) is applying the subscription model across-the-board, including to non-enterprise customers. It’s traditionally been common to have two pricing models: big enterprise customers negotiate a site license for a big annual fee, while small businesses and individuals make one-off purchases of software.
In academia it’s nearly impossible to buy into a subscription model, because of the way our funding is tied to short-term grants, not ongoing budgets, at least for researchers (software for classroom use might be easier to buy on subscription). It’s sometimes easier for me to commit to spending $1000 right now than even $100/yr ongoing.
This model of “if you stop paying, it stops working” is also the business model JetBrains has with the developers it employs.
Not really. I’m pretty sure JetBrains gets to keep (and keep selling) the work that its developers did when they leave the company, just like every other software shop in the world.
And if you stop paying for JetBrains' stuff, the code you have already written with their tools still works, and you can still keep selling it. You just can’t write any more using that tool.
If JetBrains were selling a runtime, like (eg) a commercial Smalltalk or a commercial Common Lisp, then having it shut off when you stop paying for it would be different to having your developers leave when you stop paying them, because then the code you have written would no longer work/no longer be saleable. But that is not the case here.
As a JetBrains customer who was not asked what they wanted:
I would like a license that just followed me around. I am just me. I am not always programming on the same VM or PC all day. And I’m not working for the same customer all day. But I am the only person who can use that license. That would be the perfect license for me.
If that sounds a lot like “I buy the software and use it the way I want”, then I guess it probably is.
Doesn’t sound like that. How do you remove it from machines you’re not using any more / stop other people using your copy? How do you get an up-to-date version?
I was describing the licensing i want, not the one jetbrains actually has.
Programmers expect all infrastructure to be free.
But their chat app they threw together in 4 hours using loads of OSS software? Don’t sell for less than $10 billion dollars!
It is a truism that software tools for devs aren’t a good business. Kind of sad, but there you have it.
I think that truism only applies on the level of individual developers, not necessarily at the company level, where large ongoing contracts for development tools seem to be at least somewhat common.
Large ongoing contracts are tough to negotiate for small shops. Additionally, the realities of selling to enterprise businesses virtually guarantee that you need to be writing tools for older, safer technology.
This means that newer technology often has worse tooling. For example: Vim/Emacs seem to survive less by merit and more by necessity because they do their one task well. (There’s also a culture that instills them as the ‘correct’ tools to use, but that’s another discussion.) Devs who stay on the bleeding edge get used to this sort of half-usable state, and make new tools who maintain the trend.
Completely free tooling is the worst of all worlds. Most tools require significant amounts of time and expertise to put together, and are held to much higher standards than most anything else an app programmer does.
If I need to maintain an “always-on” internet connection so that the software can phone home, to constantly validate that I’m permitted to use it, then that software simply isn’t useful to me.
If it needs to phone home once every 24 hours, then that software simply isn’t useful to me.
If it needs to phone home once every 30 days, then that software simply isn’t useful to me.
If the software can spontaneously die on me at any time, for any reason, then that software simply isn’t useful to me.
Then you must not use any software at all. :P
Of course you’re a bit facetious here - indeed any program risks crashes at any time.
But any program designed with a feature intended to kill it permanently is gong to aggravate the basic unreliability problems.
It’s back to the problem of copy protection. The ugly thing with copy protection is not only are all copy protection schemes fated to be broken but they are also all fated to inconvenience and occasionally lock out paying customers.
So essentially the company is saying “yes, oh paying customer, we expect you to have a worse experience than a cracker who gets this for free. Moreover, we will prosecute you if you crack your paid copy and that’s easier for us than finding the crackers ‘cause we know who you are.”
This is an interesting point of view, as my reaction was, “Awesome! Now that it’s a subscription I don’t have to go through the red tape of software license acquisition each time I need/want a specialized version of IntelliJ or an upgrade license.”
I’m with you. This rage seems insane to me. The most expensive option costs less than a dollar a day. In an industry with routine six-figure incomes. What the hell?
I don’t think it has anything to do with costs. A lot of people (I’m one) really hate so-called subscription models, because you spend money and have nothing to show for it when the “subscription” lapses.
(I use “so-called” and scare quotes because these newer models don’t really resemble traditional subscriptions to, for example, magazines or newspapers. When you subscribe to a magazine, you get to keep the back issues forever; if the company folds or your subscription lapses, it only means that you don’t get new issues, not that your old issues blink out of existence. Software “subscription” models are more like paying rent; and while renting may make sense when dealing with very expensive things like real property which many or most people cannot afford to buy outright, most people really don’t like renting ordinary consumer goods, to the point where business models like Rent-A-Center’s are widely seen as scammy and predatory.)
Frankly I don’t see why this business model is any less scammy or predatory in the realm of software (or consumer electronics which phone home and require rental fees to continue using after the initial purchase–like the WiFi SD card I just bought which has an undisclosed requirement that I pay for a “cloud subscription” to copy my data over my WiFi network to my computer.)
I like the new pricing also. To some degree I think the most vocal people are ones that are stingy (not generating tons of revenue for JetBrains anyway), or work in dysfunctional organizations (which may be more of a problem for JetBrains).
A colleague raised the idea of Jetbrains also providing a “buyout” style of license, where you can pay one-time to continue to use the currently existing version(s) in perpetuity, but get no upgrades. This would probably cost more than the single-product licenses, but may mollify people who can justify one-time expenses easier than ongoing expenses.
I still would go for the subscription model - it’s a good value, especially for polyglots.
not generating tons of revenue for JetBrains anyway
This is not about cost. The vast majority of the most vocal people are e.g. those who love IntelliJ because they consider it’s by far the best IDE for Java nowadays (and that has been so for years). I don’t have the revenue numbers obviously, but I bet that’s a lot of people and a big chunk of what JetBrains makes out of its products.
Up until now, I’ve had the choice to buy my own car or rent one. Overnight, I can only rent. I hope JetBrains reconsiders.
They did provide a perpetual license kinda like I had imagined. https://sales.jetbrains.com/hc/en-gb/articles/204784622-What-is-perpetual-fallback-license-
I see future customer-base-impacting issues with this move for Jetbrains. E.g. a Jetbrains customer that uses their software and likes it can no longer afford the subscription, for whatever reason. They will of course find something else to use because they have to get their work done. They may or may not like as much, but its quite unlikely they will ever come back to Jetbrains. Perhaps this is offset by the rate of new customer acquisition, but perhaps its not. Adobe found that it was not and they had much “stickier” products than Jetbrains sells, in that, there were sometimes no good alternatives to the software Adobe sold.