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Last post Author Topic: Collectorz' bold new subscription-based update plans - brilliant? or suicidal?  (Read 10513 times)

nosh

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Collectorz have switched from a traditional update model to a new subscription based one. They're dealing with some pissed off customers while they try and clarify the new system.

The new plans give customers who've bought their program two options, a $2.50 monthly recurring plan or a $25 yearly prepaid plan.
The company claims that they plan to release smaller, more frequent updates instead of a big yearly update. If you're subscribed to the update plan, you can download the latest update. If you're satisfied with the current version you can keep using it, older versions will stay functional.

I've purchased Movie Collector Pro, when I heard they were going subscription-based my first thought was "this can't be good!". But there's a catch. You can join & cancel your monthly subscription at any time. If you cancel for 6 months and join on month 7 you don't have to pay for the six months you weren't subscribed. You can pay $2.50 for the current month, catch up to the latest version available and cancel again if you so wish. So someone who is satisfied with the program and willing to wait 6 months or a year to catch up to the newly introduced features can do so for as little as $5 or $2.50. Alwin has clarified that they will accommodate users when it comes to bug fixes so people don't have to shell out to get a bug fixed. There will be no major version upgrades with higher upgrade costs in the future.

The company could of course change something in the future (I'm unaware of the exact details but I'm aware of Collectorz pissing off lifetime(?) license holders in the past.) But without getting into hypotheticals, what do you think of these plans? I have to admit I actually like them. I had a hard time wrapping my head around how they expect the new plans to benefit the company, they just seem to have taken up a lot of pressure on themselves - people paying a monthly fee will expect to see regular results. And the yearly update fee is around the same ($20-25 range). I can't see a catch or some kind of hidden cost either.

The one aspect I see benefitting the company is that they may get more people updating - a user who didn't care to pay $25 at the year end will now have the flexibility to pay much less and still keep up with the program after waiting it out. And someone who doesn't mind spending more but cares about getting the latest features ASAP will be accommodated too.

I don't know what Alwin's reasoning was when he came up with the plans but I find the fact that they cater to both ends of the market very interesting.

I've always believed that having a uniform price for software has been partially responsible for piracy. A large number of people will refuse to pay even a cent when a software can be pirated but there are a lot of those who will pay when they believe they're getting a very good deal. And with digital distribution the overheads to the vendor are nominal. More revenue would ease the situation for everyone.

Collectorz software is not the best example since their entry price is reasonably high and they also have standard and pro versions (weaker/stronger), but their update model seems to be the least discriminatory. If ported to a software with a low entry point, it could be great for people on either end of the financial spectrum. It'll be interesting to see how things work out for them once the dust settles and the initial uproar dies down. 

Renegade

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I can understand why so many people would be upset. SaaS is rarely justified, and most often simply a tool of greed. Very little software needs to run as a service.
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40hz

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My understanding is they wiill be honoring their existing lifetime licenses.

You will need to sign up online for one of their user accounts like everyone else. That is no longer optional. But your account will be enabled to receive permanent free program updates.

---

@Ren- it's not really running as a service. Their apps download and run locally. It's their update mechanism that requires a subscription. It's more like a paid WSUS. You also don't need a web connection to use the app itself. Once the license gets validated you never need to go online to Collectorz again if you don't want to update it..
« Last Edit: October 24, 2013, 05:46:05 AM by 40hz »

nosh

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Their subscription plan doesn't tie you in in any way. As 40 mentioned, the programs run even if you're not subscribed. You can actually use the new plan like a tradition one-time purchase option, all you need to do is opt out of the plan after the purchase is made. The update model is way more flexible - it ends up being cheaper if you don't want every new feature the minute it's released and lets users with a smaller budget catch up to the latest versions for a nominal charge, if and when they find it worthwhile. I honestly don't see any pitfalls - which is why I posted about this here, to see if there's something I missed. :)

Renegade

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@Ren- it's not really running as a service. Their apps download and run locally. It's their update mechanism that requires a subscription. It's more like a paid WSUS. You also don't need a web connection to use the app itself. Once the license gets validated you never need to go online to Collectorz again if you don't want to update it..

Blah - yes - I realize that. I should have phrased that differently - laziness on my part. The subscription model that you see in SaaS is rarely justified. It's basically the subscription model without the technical side of SaaS. Both parts are generally suspect.
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

40hz

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^What's the alternative then for the developers?

Apple seems to think it should be pay once, use forever - or buy it all over. Their app store has no provision for upgrade pricing. It's either list, universal discount, or free.

I have no objrction to what pricing model a software developer uses. As long as it's rational, consistent, and (by my own assessment) fair to all parties involved.

Too many small and indy developers put themselves out of business by selling for too little that something new needs to be tried from time. The alternative is endless cycles of feature bloat to justify a more expensive upgrade every few years. I'd rather pay smaller amounts on a periodic basis in order to be sure of ongoing QC and prompt bug fixes.

But to each their own. :)

Renegade

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Their subscription plan doesn't tie you in in any way. As 40 mentioned, the programs run even if you're not subscribed. You can actually use the new plan like a tradition one-time purchase option, all you need to do is opt out of the plan after the purchase is made. The update model is way more flexible - it ends up being cheaper if you don't want every new feature the minute it's released and lets users with a smaller budget catch up to the latest versions for a nominal charge, if and when they find it worthwhile. I honestly don't see any pitfalls - which is why I posted about this here, to see if there's something I missed. :)

Reading again - I'd misunderstood what was going on there.

It's a bit of an odd way to do things, but it seems more than reasonable. The ability to update for $2.50? Pretty darn good. I wonder how it will work out for him. From a customer perspective, it makes sense to only pay for the month that you update in, and only do that once in a while when you need to. It almost seems like he's shooting himself in the foot.
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

40hz

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^Exactly so. He should make it either or: low monthly subscription fee|pay significantly more for single upgrade

nosh

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It almost seems like he's shooting himself in the foot.

What I thought too - and that's not considering coping with the backlash, clearing all the confusion and having some long term customers leave screaming, vowing never to return again. But Alwin says he's happy with the situation after considering the overall online feedback and _sales_. So if this works out from their perspective it's a pretty decent payment model for everyone concerned.

superboyac

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This has a couple of interesting points for me.  First, this is one of the first softwares I ever purchased well over a decade ago.

But what's interesting is that collectorz hasn't been active, like, at all for the past several years.  So there's a catch 22...i heard it wasn't active because it wasn't bringing in enough business.  But what has changed?  Just that the owner decided to use a subscription model?  That's what's weird.  After so little activity, he's going to try to reinvigorate the market with this.  OK, we'll see.  I just feel it's a bit of a dying market.  But the software was really great, I thought, I'm still a big fan.

Carol Haynes

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I think it lost steam over the past years for a number of reasons - the two main ones being he thoroughly pissed off his user base with changes to lifetime licenses and there was a massive number of people rubbishing the products on the internet as a result and also he decided to change the database support to their own database and no longer make use of other useful services like IMDB and Amazon and go over entirely to their own database - which in the early days was pretty useless, esp. if you lived outside the US.

I stopped using the programs for both reasons - firstly I don't like business that renege on contract terms and secondly in the UK the database was an utterly pathetic waste of time depending on users like me to build their resources (should I say reinvent the resources).

Personally I wouldn't consider going back and there is absolutely no justification for software like this being subscription based.

Once he realises that users are savvy enough to sign up for one month a year to get up to date he is likely to change the terms again - either to the subscription model itself (force annual subscriptions only) or if you lapse you can't reregister for updates but buy an upgrade with 12 months registration. Most likely both in the long term. I suspect at this moment he is dipping his foot in the water and waiting to see what happens.

katykaty

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I don't use this software, so maybe I haven't really understood exactly what's going on, but I'm really impressed by the way the developer has managed to antagonise a major section of his customers by offering them a 90% discount!

Current: you wait a year until the update comes along, pay $25, get the latest version with a year's worth of updates.
Future: you wait a year, ignoring interim updates which simply wouldn't have been there before, subscribe, pay $2.50, get the latest version with a year's worth of updates, cancel subscription.

Have I got that wrong?

Darwin

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+1 to Carol's points and to Superboyac's note, too. I'm in exactly the same boat. I purchased lifetime licenses years ago in good faith and was not given any warning that they were revoking them back in 2008 or so. In fact, I purchased a license for another of their products right around the time of the changeover under the assumption (yes, I know ass-u-me, etc.) that I was buying a lifetime license when in fact they had already changed to the then new model (what enraged users, myself included, was that for months after they changed licensing models there was no banner or indication on their website that this was so. Anyway, after a lot of going back and forth, they honoured my lifetime licenses but every time there was an upgrade it was up to me to write to them and remind them that I needed a new license. Anyway... the only really useful products in their catalogue (for me) are Photo Collector and mp3/music Collector (I also own a license for Book Collector), titles that have been dormant for years and I've long since given up using them. Flash forward to my reading the first post this thread and if feels like deja vu all over again...
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

Carol Haynes

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Have I got that wrong?

A bit but not entirely. He certainly pissed off a lot of people in the past and the glums are still lurking out there.

What particularly annoys me (apart from all the license change nonsense) is that most of the development, before I chucked out the toys from the pram, seemed to hinge on the use of databases. They were using a lot of very good databases as sources for Movie and Music catalogues (such as Amazon and IMDB). They then decided to drop ALL support for those, even for existing users, and move on to their own - very inadequate at the time - database.

They then started charging users who were actually providing the data for that database. So now they build a product on the backs of users who they charge for the privilege!!

All in all I don't find their approach to their customers terribly honest, open, reliable or respectful - and if they offered me a 100% free life time license on all their products I wouldn't bother.

J-Mac

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I purchased the damn "lifetime licenses" for their movies, music, and book collection programs. I have lost lifetime licenses in the past - more than a few. It is generally inevitable, as the lifetime label makes it a sure loser at some point. So that is not the most disappointing aspect. But dropping support for all databases except his own was one move that lost me. That was the main cause of death for my use of their software.

Just as big was the way he responded to users on the forum. Alwin is - or at least was - about the most arrogant and obnoxious developer I'd seen. He's post and insult anyone who said anything he didn't like. I mean, not just defensive posts but outright nasty attacks on some users. Granted some users were nasty also, but Alwin was the nastiest by far. I had no desire to deal with him at all.

Unfortunately my current "collections" software developer - FNProgs - apparently just went out of business without warning too! I purchased SoftCAT, BookCAT, CATVids, and CATraxx, as well as his newest program AssetCAT. All are now abandonware I guess. Time to start looking again. But it won't be at Collectorz.com!

Jim

nosh

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I wish IMDB would come up with their own apps for personal databases. I already use the site's watchlist and ratings features, and I'm way more particular about updating ratings there (effectively marking the movie as 'watched', for future reference) than I am in the Collectorz app.

I think Collectorz left IMDB to avoid paying royalties? Currently, they have a system whereby a user requests a missing movie (by specifying the IMDB ID) and they guarantee they'll add it to their database within 24 hours. I am almost certain they have an in-house version of the program which lets them tap into the IMDB database and import. It's hard to imagine someone on their staff entering the data for every requested movie manually. I'm satisfied with what Collectorz offer at the moment but at the end of the day IMDB is the holy grail and they're just middle-men.

Carol Haynes

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Doesn't really address the issue - if you have to send a manual request for every missing film and wait 24 hours - it is supposed to be a convnient and quick way to catalogue your collection. With that level of interaction with developers it would probably be more convenient to use Excel.

I gave up using the film software because in the UK there were practically no films actually in the database once they removed IMDB/Amazon and other sources of information as they have different bar codes to the US versions. I didn't see why I should provide massive amounts of data so they can sell it!

40hz

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^I think a lot of the motivation for Collectorz to start developing its own film database was paranoia that IMDB and Amazon etc. were going to start restricting the ability to scrape info from theirs. Which might have had some merit. Especially with the MPAA making crazy copyright claims on everything - including things (i.e. film titles) that are specifically not protected under copyright law.

But it was an annoying move. I gave up on Collectorz products after that.

superboyac

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I'm still peeved that the two best mp3 catalging programs are both now discontinued...MP3Rat and Mp3 Collector.

michaelkenward

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Another UK user here, with mostly the same complaints. Crap database, especially for classical music, and not even a user friendly interface.

But my biggest beef is the way in which they introduced the new model. I paid for an upgrade a couple of months back, I am supposed to have access to the new model for six months. But apart from the fact that they didn't warn me that within months of one new version they would they would move the goalposts a few miles, they have hidden the access to this new versions so well that I can't find it, even after I was told where to look. A simple screen grab with an arrow to the button I am supposed to see would help.

There was also this puzzling invitation – almost an order – to sign up for some on-line service thingy. There was no clue as to what this was about, certainly no explanation that it was a prelude to imposing a new business model on the world. Maybe there is a confusion with my access because, not knowing what the heck was going on, I used a different email address from the one I use to make purchases.

Worse than this is the contempt with which they seem to hold customers. It really isn't a good idea to insult people who have paid for your product and then come along and ask simple questions. (Not me, other people.)

If a customer doesn't understand something, don't blame them, ask yourself if you might just have got things wrong and explained stuff poorly.

I am now looking for an alternative, but I need one that can import my large database of recordings, not something that has ever been easy with Collectorz software.
MK

maxic

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All My Movies is able to get movie details from IMDb.
It is also able to import catvids existing collection (and the one by Collectorz too :)
We develop All My Movies since 2003 and will continue improve it. And we are not going to switch to subscription model.
Just my several points :)

maxic

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Re: Collectorz' bold new subscription-based update plans - brilliant?
« Reply #21 on: November 10, 2013, 06:41:10 AM »
by the way... May be someone here know why FNProgramvare (CATVids, BookCAT) has ceased operations? I've tried to contact them, but got no reply.

namahs

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Re: Collectorz' bold new subscription-based update plans - brilliant?
« Reply #22 on: January 20, 2014, 02:33:31 PM »
One could look towards Movienizer, another alternative to Collectorz - and quite a decent one (developed since 2007). The app fetches movie information from a number movie databases (IMDb included, of course), it can import movie info in several ways via plugins, and there are a LOT of customizable scripts if you want to play around with some custom info, whatever. Besides, Movienizer handles several hardware players as well.

There are no lite/pro versions, and there are basically two license options, a yearly license and an unlimited one.
And they have got book and music organizers, too!

P.S.: BTW, Collectorz won't even let you download a trial version of their app, they need your e-mail address right away!

Josh

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Too bad the "Free download" also carries with it the requirement to buy three programs rather than just the program I need (which, in theory, should be less than the 49.95 "limited time offer", going to check back on 1 Feb to see about this one and see if it hasn't changed to "28 Feb"). I also despise authors who use the term "free download" on their page.

mwb1100

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One could look towards Movienizer...

Anyone considering this please take note of the licensing restrictions (emphasis added):

...

1.2 What is the difference between 1-year and lifetime licenses?

With both subscription types, you get full access to all organizers (Booknizer, Movienizer, Musicnizer). The only difference between the two types is their validity period. With 1-year subscription, you can use the organizers for 1 year since the purchase date, including all upgrades released during this period. After 1 year, your license expires. If you start an organizer after the expiration date, the program will start as the free trial version. Unlike this, Lifetime subscription never expires and includes all future upgrades without limitations.

1.3 How many computers I can use my license with?

The program is licensed on a per-computer basis and bound to a computer using an activation process. A regular license can be activated on two computers, a Family license can be activated on up to 5 computers. An activation cannot be moved to a different computer.

...

1.8 What will happen to my purchased license if I reinstall the operating system or move to another computer?

Please keep your registration data in a safe place. This will let you reinstall the program at any time on the computer where it was first activated. However, please note that your copy can be registered only on a number of computers that does not exceed the one specified by your license type. If you have already used up all activations and move to a new computer, you need to purchase an additional license.

Much more restrictive than I like. At least they seem to be clear about it, which isn't always the case.