SignalScope for iOS was fortunate enough to be one of the relatively few apps that could be found in the iPhone App Store on its opening day in 2008. Since then we have received tremendous feedback and support from SignalScope users. This note is in part addressed to those long-time (and not-so-long-time users) who we would like to keep on board with us as we continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible in acoustics-related analysis and measurement on iOS devices.
I thought it would be worth taking some time to present some of the benefits of adapting a subscription-based software business model, at least in our case. In discussing these benefits, some of the challenges we have faced with iOS App Store distribution may become apparent, as well as some of the trade-offs that must be made in any case from both our perspective as well as that of the end user.
I am aware that not everyone is a fan of software subscriptions, and that some, in fact, strongly dislike them. The decision to embrace subscriptions with SignalScope X was not one made lightly.
With the App Store as it is, we cannot offer an elegant solution to continue to fully monetize our development efforts otherwise (i.e. there is no proper way to offer paid upgrades for existing products). This is a decision 10 years in the making and Apple has now given clear signals that subscriptions are the preferred model going forward.
So, what follows are some benefits of subscriptions, at least as we see it.
- Subscriptions make a better SignalScope. With subscriptions, it makes sense to consolidate all our analysis tools into a single app. App consolidation allows us to put a powerful set of tools in a single app and focus our efforts on that one app, instead of five in this case. This means new tools and features can be delivered more quickly and robustness of the app can be more easily assured.
- Subscriptions make it simpler for the user to be sure they have the latest and greatest that SignalScope X has to offer. We have used in-app purchases in other products to effectively charge for upgraded tools or features. However, it becomes a hassle, both for the user and for us, to keep track of multiple in-app purchases.
- Subscriptions help us stay focused on what matters most. If we were to continue to add new in-app purchases to monetize our ongoing development efforts, the apps would continue to become more cluttered over time. The clutter adds a burden to the user and dulls the quality experience we prefer to provide in our products. To one degree or another, this would also increase our support and project maintenance burden and ultimately diminish our ability to focus on providing the best tools available.
- Subscriptions help us stay in business. Subscriptions cover the costs of continually updating our software to account for new versions of iOS (which sometimes unexpectedly change audio input/output behavior) and new hardware from Apple and others. We are pleased to ship our software with built-in nominal sensitivities for each of Apple’s iOS devices, to facilitate reasonably accurate acoustical measurements “out of the box,” but this comes at a significant cost in hardware and time (e.g. we have to measure actual iPhone and iPad microphone sensitivities).
- Subscriptions help us serve our current customers better. Subscriptions provide greater monetary incentive to meet the needs of our current (subscribing) customers. With the previous arrangement (i.e. no paid upgrades), once an app (or in-app purchase) is paid for, there may be no expectation of future monetization of ongoing development efforts from that customer. We’re pleased with the upgrades we’ve been able to offer, particularly in SignalScope and SignalScope Pro, over the last 9+ years, but we’ve effectively been giving away major upgrades for free for many app users during that time. Generosity is laudable but not inexhaustible. We need and want to be able to continue to generate a profit as well as a sense of pleasure in serving our customers.
- Subscriptions make powerful tool sets more accessible. With a single subscription (the Pro Tool Set), SignalScope X replaces everything previously found in SignalScope, SignalScope Pro, SignalSuite, IOScope, and RoomScope. That means software tools previously costing $300 (plus several powerful new tools and features) are now accessible for $20 for 1 month. It should be noted that for all 3 subscription levels in SignalScope X, an annual subscription offers a 25% savings versus a 1-month subscription over a 12-month period. Specific pricing information can be found on SignalScope X’s product page.
- Subscriptions offer a free trial. This is the first time we’ve been able to offer a proper trial of our iOS software tools to prospective customers before they make a monetary commitment.
For those who have purchased any of the apps now being replaced by SignalScope X, you will be able to keep using those apps as long as you run them on a device with a compatible version of iOS (currently iOS 8 through 11). They will continue to receive maintenance updates and be listed for sale on the App Store for a limited time.
We have big plans and high hopes for the future of SignalScope X. Thank you for taking time to read this and give it your consideration.