So, in Ulysses, Revisited I hinted at an interest in Setapp. Setapp is a software subscription service for Mac OS, costing US $9.99 per month, or $107.88 per year (a discount of slightly over 10%). Ulysses is included with a Setapp account; and the Ulysses MacApp store subscription rate is $4.99 per month, or $39.99 year. Depending on whether I want to subscribe monthly or annually, I’m either 37% or 50% of the way to the cost of a Setapp subscription just with Ulysses.
Setapp offers 105 apps (some of which I’ve already bought.) The thing with Setapp is that because it’s subscription, I pay neither initial purchase price nor upgrade fee with any app. I can just download from Setapp and be assured that I’ll get purchase price and updates included.
So, $108 per annum for 105 apps with upgrades included. Is that a good deal?
It could be a very good deal, for someone who hadn’t bought any of the apps outright. I checked on the Mac App store, and on the web: those 105 apps represent $2,440 of outright purchase price. That alone would pay for nearly 20 years of Setapp subscription.
But wait a moment… there’s a certain amount of overlap among the apps. Just looking at blog editing apps, there’s Ulysses, Blogo, and Focused. I consider it unlikely that a blogger is going to use all three.
And 36% of those 105 apps are $10-and-under utilities. Again, there’s some overlap—Declutter and Unclutter are both desktop organising apps, and it’s doubtful that a user will use more than one at once. Four apps are available for absolutely free—which means that should I use one, I’m paying Setapp for the convenience of having found it for me. I suppose that if I find a free app particularly useful that’s a valuable service, and it means that the app is not dunning me for “donations” (presumably), but it’s hard to see how much monetary value I should assign to that.
Many of those little utilities are available on the Mac App Store. There is so much pressure from customers in the Mac/iOS App Stores resisting any upgrade cost, that many inexpensive apps never issue paid upgrades. They’ll beg their users for “tips” (via in-app purchases) first. Again, it’s hard to see an ongoing value for which I would be paying Setapp.
Not all of those apps are of interest to me. I’ve left my software engineering and database administrator days behind. While the programmer’s editors and SQL engines are worth their hefty price tags, they’re of little benefit to me personally. So again, they add no value to a Setapp subscription.
And then there’s the negative impact on my productivity. A new piece of software, for me, is the same as buying a fancy new toy, say a massive 3D puzzle. I’ll put hours and hours into finding every possible feature, trying it, and deciding whether it’s useful to me, and if so, under what circumstances. Yes, to me, this is playing. I probably don’t need 105 new toys to distract myself with. “Oh, look, here’s a SQL engine! Now what can I do with THAT? And an editor that will run every known Mac programming language? And which of these three blog editors is best for me? Maybe I’d better try them all…”
I might not come up for air for months.
I can see where Setapp would be valuable to someone who wanted to have specialised tools available for a specific task on an intermittent basis. If you really need SQL, sure, a $9.99 one-month rental beats heck out of buying a $110 DBMS. And if you qualify for the educational 50% discount, it’s a steal—go ahead and get it for Ulysses alone. You’re bound to find something else useful. But for me, anything I need on an ongoing basis—well, I’ve already bought it, including four of the more expensive included Setapp apps, and alternative solutions for half a dozen more.
So I’ve reluctantly decided to go ahead and pay my Ulysses subscription for blogging, and keep Setapp in mind. If some of those apps I already own start issuing expensive upgrades, I’ll take another look.