Why I'll stick with free tier (for now)

Please read the whole thing before replying

When I first discovered Drafts, I was really excited. The seamless, native integration, data ownership with iCloud sync and customizability was awesome! However, after using it for a while, like most, I got hit by the paywall when trying to edit an action, like most. I get that developing an app is expensive, and I get that it requires a constant stream of revenue - the pricing is certainly not my problem, it sounds reasonable at first. My problem is that I don’t own Drafts. I never want to be in a situation where a fundamental part of the tools I use to work is relying on me to constantly pay a fee to the makers and I’m giving up the practical ownership of my data. And I am far from the only one thinking that. In the German App store 1-star reviews of drafts over 94% (16 out of 17) of customers complain about the subscription model, most of them saying they could justify a one-time purchase.
Assuming the average customer sticks with drafts for 4 years, which is assuming pretty low churn, that’s 80$, minus 30% of the first year and 15% for the next 3 for Apple, which is a lifetime customer value of 65$ per customer.
Considering that, I think the additional option (alternative to subscription) of a 99,99$ one time purchase, which would be a lifetime customer value of 70$, for the people like me would be a fair offer that actually raises more for the developer, that could convince the customers like me, who wouldn’t pay anything otherwise to invest in drafts. It’d be a price that I and many others would pay, that would make the maker happier than a subscription.
The problem of unreasonable and unsolvable refund requests @agiletortoise mentioned in another post on this issue has also been resolved since developers are now able to have a pop-up window making the customer aware that they’ll not be able to get a refund before they buy.
A fair one-time pricing option could support the development with a lot of immediately accessible money, increase customer satisfaction and even make more than subscriptions in the long term. Thank you so much for reading!
Happy to discuss this!

iA, the makers of iA Writer also published their take on this in their blog.

I understand that a lifetime unlock option would be preferred by a non-zero number of users. I think, based on years of doing this, you would be surprised how small a number of users that would be. I’m not necessarily staunchly opposed to such an option, but it’s also not something that is without side effects.

I am a one-person development shop and have to carefully manage resources and commitments. Offering a lifetime unlock option is not something that just happens by flipping a switch, it requires a considerable amount of effort to implement, creates complexity and additional decision points for users considering a purchase, and a burden to maintain if and when the platform offers additional/alternate payment solutions outside the App Store.

I also, frankly, don’t like that it implies a sense of ownership, because “owning” software is a bit of a myth at this point. Software rot is real. It requires, especially on iOS, and especially with an app like Drafts that integrates with many, ever-changing external services, constant updates just to keep working well, and even more to keep updated with new platform features, etc.

To me, in the way Drafts is actively developed, taking your money upfront for a lifetime unlock does not represent an exchange for current goods, but a promise to continue to deliver goods on an ongoing basis for some amount of time in the future. I would rather continue to earn your business month after month, year after year, and if you do not see a value proposition in what is delivered, you can walk away at any time.


Yeah, that does actually surprise me. From my experience and the people I know, the acceptance is pretty low, maybe that’s a Germany only thing.

I totally get the working aspect of it, of course implementing something like this costs you as a developer a lot of time/money you could spend on other features and you can’t know if it’s profitable. Of course, I can’t talk for everyone, and my view of it may be very distorted, but for me and most people I know no subscription requirement is one of if not the top priority when looking for an app.

Yeah, you definitly have a point there. I personally prefer alternative methods to paying for constant updates, like only charging for new features (I know there’s a significant development effort involved there though), or having high one-time prices available which are higher than the average lifetime subscription customer revenue as alternatives to subscription to fund develoment. I value most apps I currently use (including Drafts) enough so that their price is justified the day I bought them and I don’t rely on feature updates for them to reach their value, although I of course am happy for every update.

After all though, it comes down to you. If you feel like the development and maintanence is worth it to sell a few more apps and make this group of users happy, that’s great, make sure to let me know! If not, I’m still grateful for the extensive ammount of features in the free tier and will continue to use it.
Have a great day!

1 Like

I would say that Drafts is one of a small number of apps where the updates are frequent enough that a subscription “feels” right.

And we haven’t really talked about the value.

1 Like

what @martinpacker said


Drafts is worth every dollar we pay for its business model.

“There’s no free … shrimps”, as they say.


Of course It’s no bad app - it provides a lot of value and unique modding abilites, And if you feel like the value is justified, that’s fine. It’s not without alternatives though - it’s still a text editor.