Faithlife Connect - Defining the issues & looking for a path forward

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Posts 263
Greg Corbin | Forum Activity | Posted: Fri, Feb 23 2018 2:58 PM

Since 2009, I have spent about $6500 in Logos resources while collecting a theological library of over 3200 resources and have been a LogosNow subscriber since the beginning of the program. I use Logos every single day in my life and ministry as a senior pastor in Birmingham, Alabama. This morning, I was able to spend a couple of hours looking at the information provided by Faithlfie, the email I received from Faithlife, and reading the vigorous reactions on the forums. Over the years, I have found it helpful to identify the key issues that people are expressing. It's easy to get overwhelmed and bogged down in the forums. So, here is my personal analysis...

1.  Faithlife did not prepare its user base that major changes were coming. As a result, users in effect "got a bomb dropped on them" yesterday. To compound the problems, the leadership of the company did not communicate what was going to be controversial information. Unfortunately, this seems to be the norm from past roll outs and controversial issues. Fortunately, Bob did weigh in with a very helpful blog post and I encourage every to read it.    https://community.logos.com/forums/t/160552.aspx

2.  Many users do not see the value of the other elements of Faithlife Connect, so they feel that the company is now asking them to get far less value for their money. The primary reason for this feeling is that the $8.99 monthly Faithlife Connect price point (same as LogosNow) no longer includes all of the Logos Bible Software toolset.  In order to have all of the software toolset, that now requires a subscription that is more than double what everyone has been paying under LogosNow.  Because many users don't value things like FaithlifeTV and the video courses, all of those other "goodies" now included do not offset these numbers in the minds of users.

3.    Many users feel betrayed by the new Faithlife Connect. Why?  Because in order to continue getting a subscription that includes all of the features/toolset, they will also be paying for the rental of books that they already own. For me personally, this is exactly the case. There is very little in the "Essentials" tier that I do not already have. In addition, many longtime users who have invested large sums of money feel that Faithlife isn't doing enough enough to value them and take care of their needs. Finally, many Logos users feel betrayed because they feel the company has moved away from the core product and is actively pursuing too many other things.

4.   Faithlife has been generous in the transition and expressed their desire to "make it right." They have extended the subscription time before making LogosNow subscribers begin to pay the Faithlife Connect subscriptions. They have offered up to $200 coupon codes that can be used now or when Logos 8 debuts. As usual, Bob and other Faithflife staff have taken to the forums and expressed their desire to receive input, make things right, and satisfy as many customers as possible.

5.   Faithlife is struggling to find a sustainable business model for the future. Logos Bible Software gave the company a very large and established customer base who are largely only interested in the world's greatest Bible software getting greater - and purchasing resources to use within it. One you purchase a book, you never have to pay for that book again. The ownership model worked for a long time. Now, the world is moving to subscription. New Faithlife customers (the key to the future) expect the subscription model. Bob is caught in the pinch between his longtime commitments to the many many investors in the ownership model and the need to base the future of the company on a subscription model.

These are the main issues as I see them.  Personally, I love Logos Bible Software and use it daily. I have found the MobileEd courses to be "OK" and something I tried because they came with LogosNow. I haven't used FaithlifeTV and the other stuff. Since I have a significant investment in books within Logos, I am concerned that Faithlife keep their promise not to make me pay for books I have already purchased. However, I am also concerned that Faithlife is still in existence 10 years from now so that I can still utilize the resources I have purchased.  From reading Bob's forum post, that means some type of subscription program that users like myself will be willing to pay year after year.

I am praying that Faithlife can find a path forward that most of its existing stakeholders can feel at least "OK" about while giving the next generation of customers a chance to come into the Faithlife/Logos experience.

Posts 30
m wilson | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Feb 23 2018 3:09 PM

Isn't the solution to all of this simply having a system consisting of buying content with some base of functionality and then subscribing/renting the software at a sensible price?

All FL really needs to do is add a Features Only level in FLC for something between 100/yr and 200/yr that makes sense for everyone and lay out their cards that they need to charge more for greater functionality. If you don't need it or want it, don't rent it.  

Posts 10210
Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Feb 23 2018 3:11 PM

Greg, good summary, but I thought you had 'the path'  (like so many journal articles).

I don't buy 'the world is moving to subscription' ... that's a weak dodge. If FL wants subscription fine, but don't blame the world.

- Subscriptions in the business world, yes.

- Subscriptions for software, where the work product is movable to other alternatives, yes.

- Subscriptions for entertainment, yes.

- Subscriptions only for software, for pastors where you hold the keys, no. 

And FL hasn't suggested that.


Posts 2825
Michael Childs | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Feb 23 2018 3:30 PM

Personally, I refuse to pay a monthly fee for any Logos toolset.  If I can't buy them for a reasonable price, I just do not need them.

But that is just me.  I am very fortunate to have built my Logos library before the push toward subscription based resources.  I am also fortunate to have little interest in more bells and whistles in my Bible software.  I just want the books, searchable and tagged, and the language resources.  That is all I need to be happy.

Except for my dozen grandchildren, of course.

"In all cases, the Church is to be judged by the Scripture, not the Scripture by the Church," John Wesley

Posts 1134
Juanita | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Feb 23 2018 3:32 PM

Yes

No, it is not just you, Michael! 

Posts 1928
Donovan R. Palmer | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Feb 23 2018 5:04 PM

Greg Corbin:
5.   Faithlife is struggling to find a sustainable business model for the future. Logos Bible Software gave the company a very large and established customer base who are largely only interested in the world's greatest Bible software getting greater - and purchasing resources to use within it. One you purchase a book, you never have to pay for that book again. The ownership model worked for a long time. Now, the world is moving to subscription. New Faithlife customers (the key to the future) expect the subscription model. Bob is caught in the pinch between his longtime commitments to the many many investors in the ownership model and the need to base the future of the company on a subscription model.

Yes. Change is coming. Change has come.  I really suspect that in spite of the uproar on these forums, our course is plotted and they will just keep a stiff upper lip because there is no other option.  As a large investor I have two concerns:

1. The long term viability of Faithlife.  They can only sell so many books to fuel their growth, even the public domain books which I assume their margins are much higher on. I suspect that the transition to or addition of a viable subscription model is what is necessary to protect our future.

2. That Logos does not lose its way. TV, social networking, mobile Ed, magazines, presentation software, etc... these are all good, but companies need to be careful to protect their core business. Those who bought into Logos for the Bible software, will struggle the most at least with the perception of the competition for the company's attention.

After the dust settles, I may very well settle into one of the Logos Connect tiers, though I wished there was something between Starter and Essentials.  Or I may just buy a feature set and call it good. 

I have said it before, I wondered if Logos would benefit from a pilot group of users to pressure test these launches with to get the concerns addressed before the full roll out.  Anyhow, we will adapt! We have done it before...

Posts 263
Greg Corbin | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Feb 23 2018 5:18 PM

Donovan R. Palmer:

Yes. Change is coming. Change has come.  I really suspect that in spite of the uproar on these forums, our course is plotted and they will just keep a stiff upper lip because there is no other option.  As a large investor I have two concerns:

1. The long term viability of Faithlife.  They can only sell so many books to fuel their growth, even the public domain books which I assume their margins are much higher on. I suspect that the transition or addition of a viable subscription model is what is necessary to protect our future.

Very good post, Donovan. I agree with both your #1 and #2.   From reading Bob's post, it appears to me to be clear that he views subscription as the only other viable way forward. I understand that. In my opinion, I have no problem paying a yearly subscription because I want Logos to work on whatever machine/operating system I have five years from now. That costs money. Even if I never buy another book, I cannot use Logos 7 forever. Eventually, it will not be compatible with future hardware and operating systems. That costs money to maintain.

This is true with most anything we make a significant investment in. If I buy a $30,000 car and plan to drive it for ten years, I will still pay hundreds of dollars annually for maintenance and upkeep. I guess I view a Faithflife subscripion as maintenance and upkeep that protects my investment. My biggest concern is that I have access to all of the resources I have paid for 10 years from now and 20 years from now.

Posts 80
Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Feb 23 2018 5:33 PM

Logos used to be the best Bible software.  I chose Logos over its competitors because I could acquire the best commentaries cost-effectively.  In addition, its original language ability was state-of-the arts.

Instead of focusing on its advantage, it chose to spread itself into areas that it has no expertise in.  To make it worse, it makes Logos users to fund their other investments.  As a result, Its cost for publishing new resources increased tremendously.  And therefore:

(1)  It cannot compete with other bible software in pricing.  I routinely find better deals in other softwares.

(2)  It cannot publish new important resources in a timely manner. Because it requires users to fully fund the pre-pubs prior to development, many important works languish.  In contrast, other Bible softwares now beat Logos in terms of the availability of new resources (e.g. Zondervan Story of God Bible Commentary Series.)

(3) The loss of Moody's resources a few years ago made many users diversifying resources into other softwares.

Because users were asked to help fund such projects as Faith TV, cost has increased and the quality/ repertoire/ speed of publication/ pricing has substantially deteriorated as compared to its competitors.  I know that was why I also run two other Bible software programs: why put everything in one basket when Logos no longer seems to care about producing the best Bible Software and publishing the best resources in a timely/ economical fashion.

The latest episodes showed me that they value revenue over user's experience. As a result, unless rectified quickly, they will lose users rapidly and it will no longer be the premier Bible software as it used to be.  Some of the leading supporters and users are already selling their complete Logos libraries.  This will result in a even smaller user base.  For the past few years, it felt like Logos tried to squeeze more and more money from a shrinking user base.  This episode will worsen this situation.

Since I have a large library in Logos, I don't want Faithlife to fail.  I urge Faithlife to split Logos away from the rest of its organization: Logos should focus on being the best Bible software. If you are not doing something well, dump it. Focus on what you are good at instead.  Instead of figuring out how to squeeze more money per users, you should focus on making your user base larger by cutting the cost of development to make your software attractive to new users.  Keep users from diversifying their resources into other softwares.  Instead of thinking "how to make more money?", shouldn't your goal be: "how to make the best Bible software with the best user experience?"

Posts 1928
Donovan R. Palmer | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Feb 23 2018 5:43 PM

Another key issue is that I believe Bob or someone on these forums said the Logos Now user base was a bit more than 1% or so. So while it could be possibly assumed that in this group were some hard core fans who might come onto the forum and fuss about the changes, Logos will be looking at what the rest of the user base does or says, particularly if they are trying to figure out how to balance their profit and loss statement.  At the end of the day, Logos is a business that has to pay its bills.

I think there is a hard and harder way to do this. I wonder if the used a pilot group of users from different orientations to test new products with, they could do some refinement in understanding their needs and hopes for product development.

Posts 650
Kiyah | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Feb 23 2018 6:01 PM

Great summary Greg. I was just thinking there are way too many posts on way too many different forums to wade through, but I want to keep up with the discussion.

I wonder if Faithlife needs to continue creating new datasets and other bells and whistles at such a fast pace. I was thinking about Microsoft Office 365 and what they've done with that subscription model. My Office software is always up to date, and I get helpful feature updates to make the software easier and more convenient to use. I don't get entirely new features never before imagined every time they release an update, not even for a major version update. A spreadsheet is a spreadsheet, and there are specific things people do with spreadsheets. Microsoft can make the spreadsheet software more slick and easy to use, give it more integration with other apps, utilize the latest in cloud functionality, provide more mobile and web-based options, make it easier for me to share documents and collaborate with others, but they haven't forgotten that the main reason we use Excel is to create spreadsheets. They've just tried to improve the user experience of creating spreadsheets.

I think this may be what Faithlife is trying to accomplish. I agree with Donovan that through all the change they need to make sure they focus on their core business. Usually when companies diversify too much they eventually end up divesting and refocusing at some point. Microsoft tried to move into the music selling and streaming business, but disconnected that...because they are a software company and there are plenty of other ways to buy or stream music. Faithlife needs to focus on creating the best bible study software user experience that utilizes the best in the current technology.

I thought Faithlife's core mission was to help people delve into the Word of God...so as they are figuring out how to move forward with the right business model they need to keep that core mission in view.

Posts 6474
DAL | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Feb 23 2018 6:25 PM

Michael Childs:

Personally, I refuse to pay a monthly fee for any Logos toolset.  If I can't buy them for a reasonable price, I just do not need them.

But that is just me.  I am very fortunate to have built my Logos library before the push toward subscription based resources.  I am also fortunate to have little interest in more bells and whistles in my Bible software.  I just want the books, searchable and tagged, and the language resources.  That is all I need to be happy.

Except for my dozen grandchildren, of course.

Same here! I’m glad I’ve been blessed with a pretty good size library to not have to get on board with no subscription model. I own what I have and I’m only purchasing what I need. I just hope they don’t go bankrupt by changing things too abruptly and driving people away.

The more I think about it, this change doesn’t really affect me since I’m not subscribed to anything. I’ll just keep buying as I need, that’s all. I just pray the Logos ship doesn’t sink and that they keep providing tools and resources for studying the Bible.

DAL

Posts 1953
Mark | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Feb 23 2018 6:53 PM

Paul Lee:
urge Faithlife to split Logos away from the rest of its organization: Logos should focus on being the best Bible software.

I want to highlight this to be sure Bob sees it as a possibility.  Perhaps it is better not to lump everything together, but to have different products.  OF the making of books there is no end.  It is hard for me to think that the selling of books has an end point. Is Kindle not profitable? 

Posts 1953
Mark | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Feb 23 2018 6:58 PM

Greg Corbin:
Faithlife is struggling to find a sustainable business model for the future.

I agree with this as well.  Back in L3, the model was abandoned because companies were not producing quality material.  But now FL has ebooks which are not of quality material.  They have tried to do too much and have lost focus.  What happened to the branching out of NOET?  I guess it did not sell well.  FL TV is a great idea...but not great to bundle it with the Bible software.  It is for a different market. Since the end of L3, FL has in my opinion, struggled with marketing.  They have not gotten the right message out.  Perhaps it is because the business model is struggling.

Posts 30
m wilson | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Feb 23 2018 11:39 PM

Paul Lee:
The latest episodes showed me that they value revenue over user's experience. As a result, unless rectified quickly, they will lose users rapidly and it will no longer be the premier Bible software as it used to be.

Likely only a very few will go this route since they are so heavily invested and rebuilding such a library in any other system (if you could) would be very costly.

Paul Lee:
Since I have a large library in Logos, I don't want Faithlife to fail.
 

None of us do. What FL is saying is that they want to keep growing their business (i.e. expanding) and therefore need to bring in more money. It's that simple. So they are trying to find ways to get new customers (which they must have) AND get heavily invested customers to keep investing. 

Thus, your point:

Paul Lee:
Instead of focusing on its advantage, it chose to spread itself into areas that it has no expertise in.  To make it worse, it makes Logos users to fund their other investments.

is spot on because they want to grow as a business. 

Therefore, they need solutions for that, while invested customers need/want additional value before they spend more. That is the balance FL needs to work on, and they are obviously trying, but simply can't check all the boxes at this point. At least one thing they have done with this rollout is generate a lot of suggestionsSmile  

Posts 5085
DIsciple II | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Feb 23 2018 11:46 PM

Mark:
  Back in L3, the model was abandoned because companies were not producing quality material.  But now FL has ebooks which are not of quality material. 

You remember that too Mark...

Posts 1953
Mark | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 24 2018 2:18 PM

Disciple of Christ (doc):

Mark:
  Back in L3, the model was abandoned because companies were not producing quality material.  But now FL has ebooks which are not of quality material. 

You remember that too Mark...

Some memories are painful.  With time there is healing.  But those wounds are being re-opened now.  What got me started with Logos, what made me abandon all other models was the fact that Logos was the engine and Libronix was the way any company could add content to the engine.  The reasoning in abandoning the model does have some sense.  But the reasoning often given was the poor quality companies produced and the lack of tagging.  Well e-books do not have tagging and are poor quality...

Posts 2073
GaoLu | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Feb 25 2018 8:40 AM

All the fuss means little to me as I really don't like subscriptions and probably will never subscribe to this kind of thing.  LN almost tempted me.  But I bucked up and resisted manfully. Thankfully I have already bought in well to the essentials.  

I wish Logos would just sell books.  They can keep tuning their software on PC's and move to tablets if they want. If the software  does what I want well, I'll keep buying books from Logos.  Continued book sales will pay for their production in Logos and keep the software tuned.  

All that other stuff is just, stuff.  Other people do it better (or do they?).  Those piles of baggage just weigh down the good stuff that Logos does best.  But, alas, I suppose Pandora's  Profit Box is open and my hopes are a little too late.  Once the push to make business huge begins, the bulldozer can hardly be stopped--until somebody bigger chews 'em up and takes 'em over.  The owners may still walk away sitting pretty.   The users....dunno.

If LN produced only 1.8% or whatever of profit or revenue (whichever), and something like a little over 1% of people bought into it (are my facts in the ball park?), I wonder how how many people will leap on the sagging, swaying despised subscription boat at more than double the ticket price?  

Since I have no idea what I am talking about, I will stop, but I do wish Logos well.  I LOVE my Logos and use it hours every day.   

Posts 27766
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JT (alabama24) | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Feb 25 2018 10:08 AM

Gao Lu:
If LN produced only 1.8% or whatever of profit or revenue (whichever), and something like a little over 1% of people bought into it (are my facts in the ball park?)

There is no way to determine the percentage of users who subscribed based upon the percentage of income given. 

OSX & iOS | Logs |  Install

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Phil Gons (Faithlife) | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Mar 2 2018 2:35 PM

Check out Bob's announcement about the new migration plan for Logos Now members.

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