Tuesday, January 3, 2012

About Subscriptions

In early September, we launched a compulsory survey about charging subscriptions for 2cloud. We spent much of September and October gathering responses, analysing feedback, and continuing the conversation with the responders who gave us email addresses to contact them at. We sent over 400 emails, by hand, trying to get a feel for the needs of our users and trying to communicate clearly with them.

Then we went quiet.

A lot has been happening, and we hope to share some of it with you in the coming days or weeks, but we wanted to take a moment and give an update on the subscriptions front. There are two parts to this: what we’re doing, and why we’re doing it. We’ll try to explain them both in full.

What We’re Doing

We’re going ahead with the subscription plan. When subscriptions go active, we’ll be requiring everyone to pay the subscription fee or lose access to our server. A couple of fine points:

  • This only affects our server. All the software will still be licensed under the MIT License, and we’ll still be more than happy to help you set up your own server installation that you can run without paying us a dime.
  • New users will receive a free trial month to evaluate the service. This will only be extended to those who do not already use 2cloud, whose Google accounts have never existed in our systems.
  • Subscriptions are not active yet. We’ll be turning them on when the newest iteration leaves beta mode and we’re confident in its quality, reliability, and performance. Rest assured, there will be a sufficient period in which anyone who wants to can try the new beta before subscriptions go active.

You’re probably wondering how much a subscription is by now. We’re pretty pleased to announce we’ve brought the cost down to $1 if you want to buy a month at a time, or $8 if you buy a full year at a time. When we conducted the poll, we got a pretty good reaction to the $2/month or $24/year price point, but we wanted to do better.

Why We're Doing It

There are a lot of factors that influenced our decision. The over-arching reason, really, is user experience. We can simply offer a far superior user experience for a minimal cost. So just like we had to make the tough decision to discontinue supporting Android devices below Froyo, we’ve had to make the tough decision to discontinue supporting free users. It wasn’t a decision we arrived at easily, but we feel it’s the best choice considering the circumstances.

A lot of people have been sharing this post with us recently, and it’s a pretty good overview of why we arrived at the subscription model. We’re not here to be bought out. We’re not looking for a multi-million dollar exit. We’re looking to build a sustainable, viable service that offers real value to users. Sadly, we need users to pay for that value, or it just can’t work.

There is a bright side to this, though; we’re committed to you. We’re committed to building the best service we can, creating the best experience we can, and making our users as happy as we can. At the end of the day, that’s what this is all about, to us: we want you to walk away from an interaction with us saying “Wow. That was awesome.” It doesn’t matter whether that interaction is using 2cloud, or dealing with our support team, or even just saying hi on Twitter. We’re here to be remarkable.

We’ve learned not to deal with absolutes or make promises we can’t keep. We’ll be more conservative about our “never”s and “forever”s. But the mindset and spirit of 2cloud has not changed since August 2010, when the project started: build something awesome for awesome people, and do the right thing.

We’re going to continue to be honest and open with you, and try to give you every insight possible into what we’re thinking and what we’re planning. We hope you’ll stay part of the conversation with us.