Jetbrains' new Subscription model: Good or Bad?

Jetbrains just announced that all their products will be sold st a monthly/annual subscription. Since we use their products ourselves, its worth a look at what the changes imply.

New Licensing Model##

Previous model

You paid an upfront higher cost for a perpetual license for each IDE. Then you paid a discounted 'upgrade' price each year to be able to update to new versions each year. However, since the license was perpetual, if you chose not to upgrade, you could still continue using your older version forever.

New Model

You pay a fixed subscription fee, monthly or annually. Paying annual gets you some discount. However, in this model soon as your subscription expires, you can no longer use your IDE.

Pricing##

We have compared the new pricing to the old pricing.

Jetbrains is offering a promotional discount on the new pricing, but we did not take that into consideration here since that is only temporary. The monthly subscription pricing is shown as total price for 1 year.

Intellij IDEA###

If you are buying a new Intellij license, the price actually has a slight decrease, $20 per license to be exact. However, after the first year, you end up paying more per license. Paying annual upfront seems a wiser decision, considering you save about 16% per license. All in all, this definitely feels like a price increase.

WebStorm###

WebStorm users are affected the worst. Its a price increase for them in all cases. Especially bad Personal license users. Here the price increase can be over 3 times if you were about to purchase an upgrade license! $29 previous upgrade price now becomes $99 even when buying annual license.

PhpStorm & and other IDEs###

PhpStorm, PyCharm, RubyMine and AppCode have the same new price. Their old pricing is also similar to each other, so lets just compare one IDE, PhpStorm here.

The price difference here is not that bad. There is a slight increase, but the only ones really affected are Personal upgrade licenses. They go from $49 to $99 annual, doubling in price.

There are also other options like an 'All Products' bundle that gives you access to all Jetrbains' products for a flat fee and special pricing for Startups, Students, etc that might apply to you.

The Good##

1. Everyone has latest version of IDE

There is no reason now to not have the latest version of each IDE. This is good for everyone since issues with older versions don't have to be dealt with/supported by either party.

2. No need to delay features

Previously, in order to make you upgrade to the newer version of the IDE, Jetbrains was no doubt forced to delay some features to put them in new version. Now, they can just release them as soon as it is ready.

3. Motivation to remain awesome

Since users are constantly paying to use their IDEs, the day they stop being awesome, users will just stop paying and switch to other alternatives like Eclipse. This should motivate Jetbrains to keep their products awesome.

The Bad##

1. Higher pricing

The subscription model has resulted in overall price increase for the users.

2. No subscription, no IDE

The day you stop paying for a subscription, you lose access to your IDE. Previously, you would just not be able to upgrade, but could have still accessed the existing version.

3. Features can stagnate

Due to a constant revenue stream, Jetbrains might be discouraged from making big bang changes which previously would have been necessary to sell the new version upgrade.

Conclusion##

Both Microsoft and Adobe have already successfully transitioned their desktop offerings to a subscription model, so Jetbrains is no surprise. The new pricing does result in an overall price increase for users.

Their existing licensing model has got Jetbrains huge success and resulted in amazing products. However, it remains to be seen how this new model will impact the quality of their products and their userbase.

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