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Bob Pritchett | Forum Activity | Posted: Tue, Apr 7 2015 6:22 PM

Let me start by saying, I know some of you hate subscription models, and that's okay. We intend to support our existing purchase model for the foreseeable future.

If you don't like subscriptions, it's fine if you just don't subscribe. We'll just keep offering you things you can buy.

Arguing about rent vs. own is like arguing about whether all ice cream cones should be chocolate or vanilla. People simply will not agree, can not be argued with or convinced, and it's just not that hard to offer both. :-)

But you may have noticed a trend towards subscription offerings for software / information products: Netflix, Pandora, Spotify, Adobe Creative Cloud, Office 365, Google Apps for Business, etc. Even things like Amazon Prime -- a weird hybrid membership / music / video / books subscription. And Logos Now.

By way of explanation (not argument -- I don't need you to agree or be convinced)... businesses like ours want to offer more things by subscription because:

- It provides more predictable revenue. Upgrades every few years bring in a nice hit of cash, but that cash gets used over time. Historically (long in the past) we got to the point of worrying about payroll and the rent as we neared the next product release. It's a scary and dangerous way to live, going feast to famine over and over. There's value to having revenue come in smoothly over time -- because most expenses for digital products companies are also smooth over time. (Payroll is the most significant -- we don't have physical inputs like metal or wood or other commodities.)

- The Internet and mobile apps create an expectation of ongoing support. We used to make a product, sell it to you, and be done. Sure, there might be some bug fixes, but often they were delivered on-demand for specific users, or even held until a future (paid) upgrade. (1990's software model.) Now people expect frequent updates, immediate bug fixes, and that the mobile apps are updated constantly to support the latest screen size, OS feature, handsets, etc. Moreover, people expect syncing of their data to the cloud (when you get a new phone you don't plan to copy off and then restore your personal data -- you expect to sign in and have it there), web-based access to some/all capabilities, etc. Writing new code takes time and money; keeping servers up 24x7 for thousands of users is surprisingly non-trivial.

Actual support is eternal. We offer free technical support indefinitely. Depending how you calculate it, it costs $9-20 just to answer the phone. (Sounds crazy, but think about the per-hour wage, the 20 minute average call length, the supervisor, rent, computers, training, etc.) People want to buy once and be done with payments, but they expect us to answer the phone forever. And even though we sold "software for Windows XP", users expect that when they upgrade to Windows 8.1 (or 10, or 11, or 15, etc.) that we'll make sure it works there, and answer the phone if they have an issue or question while installing it. ("You should have built support costs into the price..." I'm sure someone will say... but I don't think our 1995 customers -- many of whom are still with us -- really were willing to pay for the 20 years of support some, but not all, of them were going to use. And we aren't good enough actuaries to have calculated all that correctly!)

Yes, product upgrades are a way we recover some of those support costs, and more, but many of you have correctly pointed out that 'the software is already good enough for my needs.' We're becoming a victim of our own success! Logos is good enough for some users. Some people don't need any more content, and are no longer attracted by a set of content in an upgrade package. But they still want new code, maintained servers, ongoing support, updated mobile apps, etc. 

Nothing is ever done. If you published a book in the 1990's, it was done when it was done. You bought it, and you got what was printed, and nothing more. Today, much of the content we make is actually updated constantly. The Lexham Bible Dictionary is more than three times as large as when we first shipped it a few years ago. (It's the equivalent of around 6,000 paper pages now.) Since we first released it (free), we've never stopped having one or more people assigned to it; our costs continue to accumulate. Even as we slow work, reflecting its near comprehensiveness with regard to the original scope, we plan to keep updating and revising it in response to feedback, new research / scholarly-debate / publications / discoveries. If we'd 'sold' you the LBD in print in the 1990's, our obligation and relationship would end when you bought a copy. You'd live with the typos, and ten years later you'd still own it, with no further expense, but you'd then own a ten-year-old dictionary that didn't reflect any fixes, corrections, or new contributions. If you got the LBD three years ago, you've since gotten triple the content, and will continue to get improvements and new content for years to come. You always have a brand new Bible dictionary. It just costs something to keep it brand new.

(Do you own two paper Bible dictionaries? Did you buy one in the 1990's and buy another later? Sure, you 'own' each, with no rental payment, but to own 'the latest biblical scholarship' you effectively had to keep paying -- buying a new edition, or another dictionary, every few yeas.)

In the same way, valuable data sets like our Lexham Cultural Ontology, will grow indefinitely. You 'bought' it in Logos 6 base packages or upgrades, but we don't want it to stop growing. It represents 80,000 tags in around a dozen core works, but there are 50-100 more works that could be usefully tagged. Each of these is increasingly obscure, but the overall value of the tool increases as the tagging becomes more comprehensive. It would be hard to sell you 'the next 5,000 tags' -- how would you price that? -- and especially the 5,000 after that, but the cost of doing that tagging is real and ongoing.

Visual Copy templates, photos and other media, our catalog of online third-party media resources -- these are all huge web-hosted collections that can usefully grow on a daily basis, some of which (the catalog, for example) need to be edited and maintained frequently.

We could simply price all this into our base packages: charge enough to cover the cost of making them plus anticipated support and update costs for X years, factoring in math / guesses about how many people will buy and then stop using (representing 'extra revenue') and how many will buy and use a lot (representing 'extra expense'), and then make guesses about use lifetime, years left in school / ministry, etc. It would be like becoming an insurance company. :-)

But the end result would probably be to make the base package very expensive, thus costing so many 'light user' sales that the cost to 'heavy users' would go up dramatically, and everyone would be unhappy.

So we're trying to find a better middle ground; our goal is to use subscription products to ensure that people who are heavy users forever are also revenue generators forever. By stretching the revenue out over time -- and having it continue as long as the use does -- we ensure that revenue and expenses are more in sync. (As opposed to getting it all up front and hoping it lasts till the next big thing you can sell ships.)

And when this model works, a wonderful side-effect appears: the cost-of-entry to the platform goes down. Starting with the product doesn't have a large up front cost; it's just a few dollars a month. That invites more participation, more trials, and (hopefully) more users. Which lets us spread our costs over more customers, and ultimately offer more value for less overall cost. That's how you can watch a movie every night of the month (on Netflix, for $8.99) for less than the price of buying a single movie on DVD.

And yes, I know some of you would rather own one movie on DVD and be able to give it to your grandchild, rather than risk that your $8.99 subscription is canceled / the movie removed from your collection. In which case you couldn't give your copy of The Sound of Music to the grandkids. But, if you had bought The Sound of Music on VHS long ago, while you never would have had any rental fees after, you'd now have a low-res, old-media VHS tape your grandkids wouldn't want to watch even if you gave them your old VHS player. :-)

They want to watch it on their phone. In a car. And they don't want to watch old movies anyway. They're waiting for The Sound of Music Rebooted by J.J. Abrams. :-)

Again, we're not trying to take anything away. We actually love getting large hits of revenue around upgrade cycles, and there is a whole set of other problems with slow revenue over time. That's why we're not making a wholesale switch to subscription -- it would completely disrupt our business. Don't worry. We're just preparing to support both models so that we can offer you more for less and address the needs of people who like both models.

We are going to serve both chocolate and vanilla ice cream cones. We don't need to argue over which is better. They're both great, and you can get the one you like!

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Lynden Williams | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Apr 7 2015 6:37 PM

Well said. I use to pay 4.00 for a cd to ship and wait four weeks for it. Now I get it and can read the resource as soon as it goes live.

With enough people subscribing for Logos Now, maybe we can have access to the entire database all 40,000 resources for 20.00 per month. Big Smile

Everything ever written in Religion and Theology formatted for Logos Bible Software.Logos Youtube Channel

Posts 604
John Fugh, Jr. | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Apr 7 2015 7:15 PM

What happens for the subscriber when the next major release occurs?  Will they have to pay full price to own the things that they have been renting for the months in between the releases?

Posts 499
SteveHD | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Apr 7 2015 7:38 PM

What do I get for having bought materials since 2007 or is Logos now a consumable (like ice cream)? Do I continue to buy what I do not want to have go away some day and pay extra monthly to get what might go away some day that isn't buyable?

Posts 1839
mike | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Apr 7 2015 7:46 PM

Why $8.99 tho? that's a very high price for something soo little you offer when compared with Netflix, Amazon, and Google Music. They offer gazillions products and priced appropriately.

Posts 653
Alex Scott | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Apr 7 2015 8:01 PM

Lynden Williams:
With enough people subscribing for Logos Now, maybe we can have access to the entire database all 40,000 resources for 20.00 per month.

For access to the entire database of resources, I'd gladly pay as much as $100 per month or perhaps even more.

Longtime Logos user (more than $30,000 in purchases) - now a second class user because I won't pay them more every month or year.

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Mark Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Apr 7 2015 8:06 PM

mike:

Why $8.99 tho? that's a very high price for something soo little you offer when compared with Netflix, Amazon, and Google Music. They offer gazillions products and priced appropriately.

Mike, I don't know how Faithlife came up with this number any better than you do, but I wonder if your comparison is the best one? Those you've cited have tens or hundreds of millions of subscribers. Logos might garner tens of thousands, perhaps a few hundred thousand? Margins can be smaller for folks like Amazon (who is still losing money every quarter) with huge numbers of subscribers.

Pastor, North Park Baptist Church

Bridgeport, CT USA

Posts 1751
Nathan Parker | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Apr 7 2015 8:29 PM

I'm honestly shocked that Faithlife/Logos hasn't charged a monthly subscription just for the syncing/cloud backup services we get included with Faithlife/Logos products alone. The fact that included in our base package purchases, you're throwing in backing up and syncing of all of our data files, and even the ability to go and recover deleted files through the web, is something I'd pay monthly for just to have the privilege of doing. Yet for all these years, Faithlife/Logos has still offered this service to us included in our base packages, which of course I've been extremely thankful for.

Nathan Parker

Visit my blog at http://focusingonthemarkministries.com

Posts 185
James Hudson | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Apr 7 2015 8:53 PM
Bob Pritchett:

Let me start by saying, I know some of you hate subscription models, and that's okay. We intend to support our existing purchase model for the foreseeable future.

If you don't like subscriptions, it's fine if you just don't subscribe. We'll just keep offering you things you can buy.

Arguing about rent vs. own is like arguing about whether all ice cream cones should be chocolate or vanilla.

Again, we're not trying to take anything away. We actually love getting large hits of revenue around upgrade cycles, and there is a whole set of other problems with slow revenue over time. That's why we're not making a wholesale switch to subscription -- it would completely disrupt our business. Don't worry. We're just preparing to support both models so that we can offer you more for less and address the needs of people who like both models.

We are going to serve both chocolate and vanilla ice cream cones. We don't need to argue over which is better. They're both great, and you can get the one you like!

I hope you mean what you write, that you are not giving away free sprinkles and extra scoops with vanilla so that us chocolate customers feel left out! (To keep your analogy) It seems that you are offering additional features only to rental customers (OT propositional outlines, concordance) that won't be available for us buyers (I really really hope I have got that wrong!!!) I hope that there will be parity between those features/datasets offered to those who buy! Ps if they're available now (which they are!) for,buyers then I've got lots of money in my bank account just waiting to give to you! Also the argument (sorry explanation) you make about steady streams of income doesn't really apply to your subscription! I'd be more than happy to pay monthly any amount if I got to keep the updates etc. It's the fact that you could loose them if subscription stops, that make the whole thing expensive, insecure and ultimately unworkable for me - and I can't be the only one! Why don't you release updates on your 'new' six weekly model for buyers too. (I know they don't charge but Mozilla started doing that and a number of other companies have changed to a more frequent update cycle rather than the '90s' model of releasing every couple of years!!) Thanks for listening!
Posts 1839
mike | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Apr 7 2015 11:00 PM

Bob, please elaborate what "perks" would the Logos Now subscribers get?

Posts 981
Tom Reynolds | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Apr 7 2015 11:06 PM

I think this subscription idea is great! I will not be signing up because I have no interest in the features that are being offered for the monthly fee.

However, I think that's it is great that those who value those features will be paying for them. Under the current system we all pay for features we do not want and will never use through higher prices on books. If this new mode of delivery takes off I hope to reap the benefits through lower prices on what I do want.

Posts 185
James Hudson | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 8 2015 3:44 AM

Why what you are offering is NOT subscription

1. You don't REALLY believe that subscription is what customers want

You cite Netflix, Office 365 etc as examples that this is what people nowadays want, implying customers will be clamoring / queuing up to subscribe. However, your own marketing betrays the fact that (consciously or sub-consciously) you don't actually believe this - you are having to entice / hook customers in by offering enticements such as early access or exclusivity.

If you really want to run a 'subscription' and 'purchase' model simultaneously, then you should offer exactly the same with both models, and let the customer (rather than the vendor) decide the approach they want to use. Then you will have a fair comparison.

Currently, you cannot use the number of 'subscribers' as proof that a subscription service is what customers want and evidence for future company direction and policy. Think of it the other way, if you offered discounts and exclusive features to 'purchase only' customers - guess what would happen!!

2. Your undertaking to offer both systems (vanilla and chocolate) as two comparable options sounds commendable, but (from what I understand) does not appear to be entirely true

Your post appears to be written to say, 'we are offering another comparable option. It will be good for us, and won't make a difference to you - choose which option you want.' But, when examined, it seems this is more than just a 'like-for-like' choice.

From what I've read from the Logos Now thread, I have gathered that some features (such as OT propositions and discounts and possibly concordance) are only available for 'subscription' customers. I hope this is only 'early access' as opposed to 'exclusivity'.

To quote 'Gao Lu:' from another thread: I am still scratching my head wondering why I can have a feature/dataset now if I rent it for less, but it isn't possible to have it for 2+ years if I buy it for more.  

If these are available now (which they appear to be to those who have already subscribed), how long are you planning to withhold them for paying customers?

If not, how can you claim that you are treating all customers fairly/similarly?

3. Although you use the word 'subscription', I think what you are really offering is your true hidden agenda of moving to a 'Software as A Service' model.

This seems to be what your approach to the introduction of 'Logos Now' suggests to me and why what you are offering is not simply a 'subscription' service.

Please make me happy and refute this and the above points.

It's a difficult job to keep all customers happy, but one sure way not to is to treat one group of customers more preferably than others.

Thanks again Bob for taking time out of your busy schedule to post your views and rationale behind your company's direction and approach, it is appreciated - just don't forget that it is the customers that make the business!!

Every blessing!

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Bruce Dunning | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 8 2015 3:44 AM

Bob Pritchett:
We are going to serve both chocolate and vanilla ice cream cones. We don't need to argue over which is better. They're both great, and you can get the one you like!

I like this metaphor. People who like both kinds can be satisfied and for others there is the option of chocolate/vanilla swirl. Yes

Using adventure and community to challenge young people to continually say "yes" to God

Posts 591
Rayner | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 8 2015 4:16 AM

Tom Reynolds:

I think this subscription idea is great! I will not be signing up because I have no interest in the features that are being offered for the monthly fee.

However, I think that's it is great that those who value those features will be paying for them. Under the current system we all pay for features we do not want and will never use through higher prices on books. If this new mode of delivery takes off I hope to reap the benefits through lower prices on what I do want.

I concur entirely.  I will periodically review the possibility of signing up to Logos Now based entirely on the web app.  However, for people that do want OT outlines or early previews of Logos 7 features or additional discounts, this seems like a really good idea.  Sure, some people will argue that they're paying for Logos 7 twice, once through Logos Now, and again in Logos 7, but if people don't want the features of Logos 7 early, there's no compulsion to sign up to Logos Now.  I see this as offering the best of both worlds.  And, compared with the cost of other Logos resources, $8.99 per month (even with overseas charges factored in), is really good.  It would be easier (and fairer) to overseas customers to charge an annual cost, which we've been told is coming.

(Also, it is a huge improvement on the FL dating website idea, and I think the more balanced responses from users testify to that) :)

Posts 1129
Keith Larson | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 8 2015 4:23 AM

Bob Pritchett:

Again, we're not trying to take anything away. We actually love getting large hits of revenue around upgrade cycles, and there is a whole set of other problems with slow revenue over time. That's why we're not making a wholesale switch to subscription -- it would completely disrupt our business. Don't worry. We're just preparing to support both models so that we can offer you more for less and address the needs of people who like both models.

We are going to serve both chocolate and vanilla ice cream cones. We don't need to argue over which is better. They're both great, and you can get the one you like!

Bob,

I have Office 365 and loved it, I love knowing that I will not have to purchase Office 2015 or 2016 when it come out but just keep subscribing to Office 365 and have all the latest and greatest features. Not so with Logos NOW. When the new Logos Chocolate Base Package comes out all the money I have spent on the Vanilla Logos NOW cone melts away and falls to the ground! Unless someone at Logos clarifies what credit, if any, we will get I serious doubt I will continue my subscription past the first month.

Posts 10232
Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 8 2015 8:00 AM

Nathan ... I'd shockingly pay Logos to stop the syncing, forced downloads, forced updates, and the 'doing something' when I have Logos web-access set to off but Logos grabs the cpu when I turn my internet on.  

And quite frankly this rental thing is another attempt at forcing .... they know very well what they'll later sell or not.  If they're businessmen.  It's a game and there's really no harm in playing, remembering the wallet is in the customer's hands.


Posts 205
Jeffrey S. Robison | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 8 2015 8:44 AM

Mr. Pritchett,

I must say that as a Logos user since version 1, I am chalking this up to another broken or unfulfilled promise. I have bought Portfolio. It was purchased with the understanding that it would be and continue to update to the "latest and greatest" of scholarship and research. Now, because you like subscription revenue, you are throwing loyal customers under the proverbial bus and telling us that our products will no longer update to the latest biblical research unless we now put a subscription on top of it. I do not mind paying for what I use. I will more than likely subscribe, but I do not understand why this is not part of the higher end packages. This kind of information was part of what I was led to believe that I was paying for. I understand charging for the "extra" without the books/resources in the smaller base packages, but this is the very kind of updates that should be part of the Diamond, Portfolio, and Collector base packages. I know for myself... I am a pretty "predictable revenue." I would imagine that the other large base package purchasers are as well. I subscribe to Proclaim as well. I feel like Logos is breaking yet another promise to me.

Now that I have vented, will Logos Now finally provide a usable prayer list and personal book sync on mobile devices?

Posts 3061
David Taylor Jr | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 8 2015 8:53 AM

Jeffrey S. Robison:

Mr. Pritchett,

I must say that as a Logos user since version 1, I am chalking this up to another broken or unfulfilled promise. I have bought Portfolio. It was purchased with the understanding that it would be and continue to update to the "latest and greatest" of scholarship and research. Now, because you like subscription revenue, you are throwing loyal customers under the proverbial bus and telling us that our products will no longer update to the latest biblical research unless we now put a subscription on top of it. I do not mind paying for what I use. I will more than likely subscribe, but I do not understand why this is not part of the higher end packages. This kind of information was part of what I was led to believe that I was paying for. I understand charging for the "extra" without the books/resources in the smaller base packages, but this is the very kind of updates that should be part of the Diamond, Portfolio, and Collector base packages. I know for myself... I am a pretty "predictable revenue." I would imagine that the other large base package purchasers are as well. I subscribe to Proclaim as well. I feel like Logos is breaking yet another promise to me.

Now that I have vented, will Logos Now finally provide a usable prayer list and personal book sync on mobile devices?

What promise are you referring to? I am not aware of a promise that you would continue to get new features, did I miss something?

Teacher, Ministry Leader, Student, Author, Husband

How to upload logs

Visit My Site: Reformed Truths

Posts 1129
Keith Larson | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 8 2015 9:09 AM

Jeffry,

The only "promise" that was made is that core features and data sets that you previously purchased would be updated. Logos NOW does not change this. All the features and data sets in Logos NOW are new and may or may not be a part of Logos 7. When Logos 7 comes out you will have the opportunity to purchase new base packages or just wait a few months and get a free upgrade of the core engine and all the previous data sets and features you had purchased previously.

What makes Logos NOW a little iffy for some of will be paying Logos to develop new data sets and features that they will have to pay for again when Logos 7 comes out. All those who subscribe are basically giving everyone who does not subscribe a free ride when Logos 7 comes out. It is just like the pre-pub system. Those who purchase a pre-pub at 40% off are under riding all those who get the every same books in a future base package at 90% off. Only in this case it is worse because dynamic pricing will not be in effect as no one will actually "own" any of the features and data sets they have been paying $8.99 per month for.

Posts 390
Alain Maashe | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 8 2015 10:21 AM

I just hope that Logos Now will not follow the pattern observed with resources , they are often first bundled during prepub at a discount, then kept in a bundle for a long time, before finally being sold individually a little or no discount. The prepub system of today is far less attractive that what it was a decade or so ago.

The idea behind the “new” prepub system appears to be to force those who want a particular book upon release to buy the bundle (which might include many books that are not wanted and would have not been bought otherwise).

This has forced me to either buy a bundle when most of the books are (somewhat) wanted or wait until sales to buy individual books from the bundles. This also makes buying individual books that were in a bundle often unattractive since many are offered at full MRSP. Of course, the bundle system does not eliminate the option of purchase books when the bundle is broken but the prices are far from attractive and are often meant to lead you to buy bundles and even do so in the first few days of offering before the price is artificially increased. As a result, instead of purchasing resources only in Logos format like I decided to at the beginning, I find myself purchasing them in a least four platforms, often going with the one offering the best deal and the quickly access to the resource.

The same principle used for resources might (unfortunately) be implemented with Logos Now making the subscription option the only attractive one by not only delaying access to features and datasets but also by adopting a price structure that while not eliminating the Upgrade to Logos 7 option, makes it nevertheless prohibitively expensive to wait for the next major release.

To use Bob’s analogy, yes vanilla ice-cream and chocolate ice-cream might still be both offered but if you offer vanilla ice-cream every day of the week at $2 while offering chocolate ice-cream only on Sunday and at $4, while you could still claim to offer both flavors, you are nevertheless sending a clear message that vanilla ice-cream is the way to go.

As such, the promise that “we're not trying to take anything away” might not be the whole story, especially since the subscription model (which should be more profitable for Logos) will in essence compete with the wait-for-the-next-upgrade model. It would not be good to have a standard and a premium tracks arranged in such a way that standard customer and strongly "encouraged" to go premium (something very common when subscription models are involved)

I guess we will have to wait for either an official announcement or the release of Logos 7 to find out but some trends are difficult to ignore.

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