Recently, the well-known note-taking application “Notability” has been criticized as the number one hot search. It all stems from a piece of news-on November 2nd, Notability suddenly announced that users who have paid to buy out the service will need more than a year if they want to continue using it. Pay a subscription fee of 80 yuan.The buy-out system has changed to a subscription system. Some users described the move as “cutting old and new leeks together”, while others described it as “like buying a house, but the developer told you to pay the rent.”
Notability responds to the change of subscription system, old users continue to enjoy their existing rights
1. Notability’s behavior is accused of violating the relevant agreement of the App Store. It is reported that if the payment model changes, the existing users must be notified in advance, otherwise the platform has the right to punish the developer or remove it.
2. Domestic note products have implemented a subscription system for 10 years. There is no difference between the buyout system and the subscription system. Different payment mechanisms are adopted for different industries, products and audiences.
3. The product threshold of note-taking products is indeed not high. The free mechanism is to expand the volume of the “pyramid”. When the absolute amount of the whole is increased, as long as 1% of users are willing to pay, profit can be realized.
Subsequently, Notability quickly issued an apology statement, but competitor Goodnotes hurriedly followed up and cut prices, causing many Notability users to “abandon the pit.” In addition, whether Notability’s behavior violated App Store related agreements has also raised questions.
The motivation of Notability’s desperate move is easy to understand. It maintains a stable cash flow by implementing a subscription system. In China, the subscription system has been implemented for notebook products for about 10 years. Head players such as Evernote and Youdaoyun Note all adopt the “free first, pay later” model, and subscription income has long been their core source of income.
Buyout becomes subscription, new and old “leeks” are cut together?
What exactly is Notability? If you have not used it before, the user may be at a loss. In fact, this is a paid note-taking and PDF annotation tool App on iOS, developed by Ginger Labs, and its users are mainly students. Easy to understand, it can be compared to Evernote orMicrosoftOneNote.
It is understood that the previous Notability buyout price has been maintained at around 60 yuan for a long time. After the subscription system is changed, the one-year fee will rise to 80 yuan. The “compensation” for members who have been bought out before is just a one-year free membership. Currently Notability’s official website has been updated. As you can see from the page, there are few free-to-use features, and to unlock more features, you need to pay for an annual subscription.
The buyout system changed to a subscription system, which caused a lot of dissatisfaction among old users. A user commented, “It’s like buying a house, but the developer says you will start paying the rent in 2022.” Some users think, “Properly cut the chives together with old and new users.”
In the opinion of the senior vice president of Evernote Housewarming, the reason why the Notability incident has caused such a large public opinion response is because “the way old users are handled may not be friendly enough.” Housewarming uses Evernote as an example. In the subscription system, there is an important principle that is the inheritance of the rights of old users. “No matter how the price system is adjusted, the price may even increase, but for old users, the subscription Under the state, the price system has remained unchanged.”
Notability panicked by the user’s “crimination”. Yesterday, Notability quickly issued a statement apologizing, stating that users who have bought out before November 1, 2021 can still use existing functions and any content previously purchased in the app for life, including unlimited editing, iCloud synchronization, etc.
But for Notability’s “remedy”, many users did not buy it. Some users pointed to the point, “In other words, if you want to use the new features that will be updated later, you still have to subscribe.”
According to Notability’s statement, it pointed out that whether users who have bought out can use the new functions developed in the future for free depends on the complexity of the new functions and the maintenance cost.
So, why would Notability prefer to be scolded, and insist on implementing the subscription system? Notability said in the statement, “We are just a small company and we don’t know whether we can support a lifetime buyout service, so we decided to adopt a one-year subscription system.”
It is easy to understand that if the subscription system is implemented, Notability can receive stable cash flow. On the contrary, the result of the buyout system is that the company can only rely on the income of new users to support R&D and operations every year, which may put the company into a vicious circle.
At the same time, competitors have moved quickly. As one of Notability’s biggest competitors, the paid note-taking software GoodNotes launched a brand-new discount campaign quickly after this incident. It only costs 25 yuan to buy out the App for life, and all of its functions can be used for free.
Many users expressed that they want to “discard the pit” and switch to GoodNotes. “The core point of the note-taking market is to find the specific scenarios of specific user groups and provide the ultimate experience and services. The student market is a very special market, and note-taking software from the perspective of students is a good entry point. Notability It is a pity that a large part of deep users may be lost at one time.” said an Internet person who has been engaged in application distribution for a long time.
It is worth noting that Notability’s behavior has also been accused of violating the relevant agreement of the App Store. According to the person’s introduction, in response to the change of the payment model, the developer needs to provide the agreed service to the original paying user. If the payment model changes, the existing users must be notified in advance, and the original service content cannot be arbitrarily deleted, otherwise the platform has the right Penalize or remove the developer.
Perhaps as one user said, “It’s not wrong for developers to hope to make money, but how to make money should be thought deeply, not simply and rudely.”
Use before you buy, the domestic subscription system has reached 10 years
In fact, note-taking products are typical tool applications, and such applications generally face commercialization problems. The most common advertising monetization model in the Internet field is difficult to get through in note-taking products, because too many advertisements can easily damage the user experience, which may result in user loss.
The cautiousness of the advertising monetization model has forced note-taking products to find another effective way to generate revenue. In fact, in the same type of note products, the subscription system is a very common charging model. It can even be said that the subscription system runs through the growth and outbreak periods of note products.
For example, the current two major players in China, Evernote and Youdaoyun Note, the former launched a membership subscription model when it entered China in 2012 and started localized operations, while the latter was released in 2011 and launched premium payment in 2013 Account.
This also means that in China, the subscription model of note products has been implemented for about 10 years, and “free first, then pay the bill” is also the core business model of note products in China.
For example, the current membership of Youdao Cloud Note is 198 yuan/year; Evernote has standard accounts, premium accounts, professional accounts, and super members, and the corresponding fees are 98 yuan, 168 yuan, 218 yuan, and 298 yuan per year. Compared with free users, paying users can enjoy more storage space, online table editing, and diversified mind maps.
According to Housewarming, subscription revenue from users accounts for about 80% of Evernote’s revenue. Last year, Evernote CEO Tang Yi also revealed in an interview with the media that the active users of Evernote accounted for 15% to 18% of paying users.
From the perspective of housewarming, the buyout system is more of a model used by commercial software vendors such as Microsoft in the early years, while the subscription system is now very common in foreign video websites and e-commerce websites. He believes that the subscription system allows users to have a lower barrier to use. In the free mode, users can first enjoy the basic functions, and then subscribe to pay after using them well. “Between the buyout system and the subscription system, there is no difference between good and bad. Different payment mechanisms are adopted for different industries, products and audiences.”
Regarding the “free first, then pay the bill” model, Jiang Weihang, the original person in charge of Youdao Cloud Notes, once held a similar view: by constantly making innovations in functions and experiences and providing a powerful free version, the volume of the pyramid can be expanded, and so on. The overall absolute amount has increased. As long as 1% of users are willing to pay, Youdao Cloud Note will be profitable.
From the product point of view, the subscription model actually puts forward higher requirements for App developers, and it also allows developers and users to establish a closer relationship. The former will have greater motivation to continuously optimize products and services. , Product updates and iterations will be more frequent.
The aforementioned Internet sources said that the subscription system requires developers to further polish from the perspective of users, and judge the future evolution direction of the product through the number of subscriptions and feedback issues. Based on the subscription model, developers can also split the product into more packages based on user scenarios for different users.
“The product threshold of note-based products is indeed not high,” Housewarming admitted frankly. But he believes that the difficulty of this type of product lies in how to allow users to record and organize information in different scenarios, and to maintain cloud storage and multi-terminal synchronization to ensure that user information is not lost, and at the same time, it can follow the user’s needs and Scene changes continue to evolve and evolve products.
Faced with the increasing demand for information processing by users, the ability of note-taking products to support multi-form information and the ability of artificial intelligence to process aggregated information must be further improved. In this process, manufacturers have to think about the feasible path between user experience and commercial realization. At present, the subscription system must be an inevitable link.