Darkroom Photo Editing App Switches to Subscription Model for New Users

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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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Darkroom today announced that it has switched to a subscription-based business model for new users, with pricing set at $3.99 per month or $19.99 per year. A one-time $49.99 purchase option is also available. A subscription provides access to all of Darkroom's filters and tools, plus any new features added later.

In a blog post explaining the move, Darkroom says existing users will continue to have access to all of the app's premium features for free. For new users, Darkroom is hopeful that the subscription model will increase its revenues so that it can hire more people and invest more heavily in its infrastructure.


The popular photo editing app for the iPhone and iPad has also been updated to version 4.4 with new features, including a watermarking tool, a selection of custom app icons, and a photo export summary:
- Icon Picker:

It doesn't hurt to have a bit of fun now and then :) Those who have been following us for a while know that every year or so we tend to give our brand a big overhaul to reflect major changes to the app. Now you can pick from old favorites or fun new interpretations of our icon.

- Export Watermark:

Full-featured watermarking tool that allows you to set a text or image watermark, and control its size, location, opacity, and even typeface. More explicit form of protection, particularly in a world dominated by social media where images are often reshared without credit.

- Export Summary:

Now you can see a short summary of your most important options when exporting a photo, such as export file type and quality, is watermark or copyright metadata protection added etc.
Darkroom is available on the App Store for the iPhone and iPad.

Article Link: Darkroom Photo Editing App Switches to Subscription Model for New Users
 

trainwrecka

macrumors 6502
Apr 24, 2007
464
454
Earth
I've seen this cycle before. We are currently at step 5.

1. Create an app.

2. Charge money for app.

3. Update app for free for years.

4. Switch to subscription, because money isn't being made.

5. Upset current users by charging them or let current users stay for free.

6. Don't gain enough paying users and eventually shutdown.

Moral of the story: People love apps, but hate subscriptions.
 

Westside guy

macrumors 603
Oct 15, 2003
5,702
2,861
The soggy side of the Pacific NW
For new users, Darkroom is hopeful that the subscription model will increase its revenues so that it can hire more people and invest more heavily in its infrastructure.
More likely, a fair number of people in the future who would've considered a one-time expenditure to purchase this app will now not even look at it.
 

Unity451

macrumors 6502a
Aug 29, 2011
529
2,213
California
I've seen this cycle before. We are currently at step 5.

1. Create an app.

2. Charge money for app.

3. Update app for free for years.

4. Switch to subscription, because money isn't being made.

5. Upset current users by charging them or let current users stay for free.

6. Don't gain enough paying users and eventually shutdown.

Moral of the story: People love apps, but hate subscriptions.
Skydrop followed the same model except with actual "smart" hardware. It's like... "Yes, please... why wouldn't I want to pay a subscription to use a $200+ device that I have already purchased and have been using just fine for the last several years."
One successful product/app doesn't make a business. Lots of startups are learning a tough business lesson by doing this.
 
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Cogsworth

macrumors 6502
Feb 7, 2015
367
263
I have the Darkroom app installed but I've never really used it much. Time to delete it. The widespread shift to subscription models is really frustrating, and I can't help but feel it's going to hurt developers in the end. I understand all the arguments routinely made in defense of the model and developers, I really do. But as more and more apps switch it's just going to become unmanageable. I have a handful of apps that I subscribe to, mostly weather and storage apps where the subscription supports ongoing data and storage costs that the developers carry. Now I refuse to pay hundreds of dollars a year just to use the apps on my phone, so at some point I'm going to reach saturation and I'm pretty much there. I've picked the few apps I'm willing to subscribe to. Let's say I find a new app I'm interested in that I might have gladly purchased in the past for a one-time cost, but instead it's yet another subscription app...no way I'm adding yet another sub so that developer will have missed out on a potential sale.
 

Sethal

macrumors regular
Jun 5, 2014
111
435
I’d be embarrassed if I made issue with a $20 per year subscription fee. Developers have to keep the money rolling in to make money to improve the product. Photo editing apps are not like games that have gazillions of players.
You’re absolutely right, they don’t have millions of people playing their game but they also don’t add millions of new updates either or require servers to continue to run for a photo editing app. Charge a one time fee and disclose that this one time fee is only good for a few years and then major features require in-app purchases going forward after that, problem solved.

People have had it with subscriptions. There’s way too many. Apps are becoming terrible for it. I like many others don’t even look at an app again once I see it requires a subscription. Sure you can be embarrassed making issue about the $20 a year fee. I won’t be because $20 a year coupled with 10 other apps along with all my other subscriptions is getting outta hand and I can’t afford it.

Cheers.
 

nutmac

macrumors 601
Mar 30, 2004
4,756
3,224
1. Create an app.

2. Charge money for app.

3. Update app for free for years.

4. Switch to subscription, because money isn't being made.

5. Upset current users by charging them or let current users stay for free.

6. Don't gain enough paying users and eventually shutdown.
It's getting to a point where I am reluctant to try new apps. Just as recent as 2 years ago, I was an app addict -- buying at least 2 dozen apps a year.

Looking at my 2019 purchase history, I purchased a grand total of 4 apps.

I don't even have problem with subscription, at least for work. I subscribe to 5 apps (Adobe Creative Cloud, CARROT Weather, IntelliJ IDEA, Office 365, and Tower). That's about $1000/year.

But many subscription pricing is either far beyond what I can justify (e.g., Fantastical's $39.99/year) or it's for apps that I don't use often enough to justify subscription.

At the same time, I am not saying I am right. Developers need sustainable business, even if that means shutting out a large percentage of existing and potential customers.

But as a customer, I would be very wary of trying new apps -- fear of developer switching to a subscription model or the app getting abandoned.

I don't know what the solution should be. For apps like Darkroom or Fantastical, perhaps carving out a niche with fewer customers but more profitable subscription pricing is the way to go. But that essentially means you should only download and subscribe to an app if your work depends on it. That essentially means casual users should stick to stock first party apps or ad-supported apps (or developer selling user information).
 

macduke

macrumors G4
Jun 27, 2007
11,074
14,898
Central U.S.
Is this really any better than Lightroom? My company pays for CC and LR is included. Kinda drives me crazy sometimes but I haven't seen anything more powerful that works across my Mac, iPad and iPhone.

I've seen this cycle before. We are currently at step 5.

1. Create an app.

2. Charge money for app.

3. Update app for free for years.

4. Switch to subscription, because money isn't being made.

5. Upset current users by charging them or let current users stay for free.

6. Don't gain enough paying users and eventually shutdown.

Moral of the story: People love apps, but hate subscriptions.
Well, 1Password, Microsoft and Adobe did this and they've been thriving. Also you can spend $49.99 if you don't want a subscription and you're good.
 
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Duel

macrumors regular
Jul 31, 2011
118
189
Deleted the app right away. Won't support this kind of stuff. And what the hell is that price to own it forever? AppStore is full of good photo editing apps, why this is worth $50. That's a lot for mobile app. I have affinity photo in my iPad which is full pro desktop quality photo editing app and it cost under half of this.
 

nutmac

macrumors 601
Mar 30, 2004
4,756
3,224
Well, 1Password, Microsoft and Adobe did this and they've been thriving. Also you can spend $49.99 if you don't want a subscription and you're good.
To be fair, 1Password, Microsoft, and Adobe compare favorably to perpetual single major version license.

Adobe Creative Cloud ($635.88/year) vs. $2599 (updated every 18-24 months), adds 100 GB cloud storage, fonts, many other features, and continuous major feature updates.

Microsoft Office 365 ($69.99 to 99/year) vs. $149.99 to 249.99 (updated every 3 years), adds 1 TB cloud story, mobile versions, and continuous major feature updates.

1Password ($35.88/year to $59.88/year for family) vs. $64.99 perpetual, adds multiple vault cloud syncing and 1Password X extension.
 

macduke

macrumors G4
Jun 27, 2007
11,074
14,898
Central U.S.
Deleted the app right away. Won't support this kind of stuff. And what the hell is that price to own it forever? AppStore is full of good photo editing apps, why this is worth $50. That's a lot for mobile app. I have affinity photo in my iPad which is full pro desktop quality photo editing app and it cost under half of this.
How is deleting an app you already paid for going to help anything? I have my doubts that you ever paid for it in the first place.
 

JosephAW

macrumors 68040
May 14, 2012
3,254
3,815
As long as they don't send a code and disable my existing app I purchased.
 

uniquexoxo

macrumors 6502
Aug 27, 2018
441
303
South East Asia



Darkroom today announced that it has switched to a subscription-based business model for new users, with pricing set at $3.99 per month or $19.99 per year. A one-time $49.99 purchase option is also available. A subscription provides access to all of Darkroom's filters and tools, plus any new features added later.

In a blog post explaining the move, Darkroom says existing users will continue to have access to all of the app's premium features for free. For new users, Darkroom is hopeful that the subscription model will increase its revenues so that it can hire more people and invest more heavily in its infrastructure.


The popular photo editing app for the iPhone and iPad has also been updated to version 4.4 with new features, including a watermarking tool, a selection of custom app icons, and a photo export summary:Darkroom is available on the App Store for the iPhone and iPad.

Article Link: Darkroom Photo Editing App Switches to Subscription Model for New Users
Good thing I already paid the one time when it was just $4 lol
 
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4jasontv

macrumors 68040
Jul 31, 2011
3,283
3,364
To be fair, 1Password, Microsoft, and Adobe compare favorably to perpetual single major version license.

Adobe Creative Cloud ($635.88/year) vs. $2599 (updated every 18-24 months), adds 100 GB cloud storage, fonts, many other features, and continuous major feature updates.

Microsoft Office 365 ($69.99 to 99/year) vs. $149.99 to 249.99 (updated every 3 years), adds 1 TB cloud story, mobile versions, and continuous major feature updates.

1Password ($35.88/year to $59.88/year for family) vs. $64.99 perpetual, adds multiple vault cloud syncing and 1Password X extension.
Besides another unnecessary cloud service, what features did Adobe add that necessitated a subscription service? I tried CC when it was $10 a year, but killed it as soon as they jacked it up to $20 a month.

1Password was already meh, and then they killed their app for a website and a plug-in. The idea of charging more to add features, but not to kill them.
 

incoherent_1

macrumors 6502
Oct 19, 2016
495
832
A subscription should be reserved for major utilities that receive constant, ongoing support and major features. I’m sorry but a single iOS photo editing app doesn’t fall in that category.

Nor does a calendar app, a journaling app, etc.

Here’s a novel idea: offer new versions of the software with new features to entice people to pay for the upgrade. That way, they can choose to upgrade every year, every other year, or never. It worked for decades and continues to work for dozens of hugely successful applications.
 
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