Sublime Forum

Reason For Sublime Text $80 Price: I Think I Have It . .

#1

For a while it bothered me.
Charging people all over the world $80 for a text editor that was good, nice and compact - but hardly all and everything.
Like so many other posters noted, the microeconomic truth that elasticity of demand only exists within a modest range around the product’s natural price-point seems very relevant to Sublime Text. Or, putting it plainly, ST would have vastly higher sales were the price around $25. It’s easy to see all the cash-strapped self-taught coders buying it then. No doubt even many coders in Africa, S. America and SE Asia would give it a run at that price.

But let’s look at the other consequences of these high sales with much lower margins. Clearly, to maintain revenues at the level achieved under a $80 price tag, the $25 product must sell volumes 3-4 times that sold previously right from the price-change.
More pointedly, the huge influx of new buyers will include many less proficient coders - since the latter would generally be able to afford the $80 price - and a good share of these will have less ability in using the product, handling bugs encountered, etc than the well-supported professional users. To maintain usage (and hence future update revenues) by the new customers, STHQ Pty would have to lay on substantially more tech support staff to help these newcomers over the product acclimatization hump and this would seriously eat into the increased sales, especially in year 1 after the price drop. As well as having additional tech support needs, the new customers would also have new and varying opinions on software enhancements. What John Van Dyck at Cardway Inc in NYC would like in a text editor reflects the needs of his employer. These will be very different from what Jomo Ndoya, a freelance web engineer in rural Kenya, would find useful.

So the key to achieving the promised profits (as opposed to revenues) lies not only in price positioning but in balancing adequate support obligation with the needs/capabilities of customers. It is a sad but nonetheless understandable truth that new enterprises almost always seek out the lowest hanging fruit amongst their potential customer-base as this provides the safest and quickest route back from their startup debt. Hence ST’s emergence as a light, fast and popularly-featured text editor for (I believe) mainly web scripting applications. Its initial target customers were out-and-out professional web engineers who would readily pay the tag price for this new editor. The tech support overhead for these code-proficient users was minimal so almost all STHQ Pty developers could be used for product enhancement. Initially, most of the target customers would have fairly similar favorite features so developer activity could be focussed on a small set of objectives that were often mutually inclusive, if not mutually supportive. But as soon as the customer base enlarges to take in the small company users where the IT expert (if any are there) is an overstretched all-rounder, you immediately have to make a higher development architecture provision to handle the diversity of the user base and their desired features.

That’s the commercial crux of bringing technology to the masses in an affordable way without debasing the product’s perceived value. I’m not saying that there aren’t ways through this, e.g. intermediary support companies, but it is something we must be mindful of when looking for price drops simply on the basis of compensating revenues. Revenues aren’t the thing. It’s profit that keeps an enterprise going and growing.

Okay, $80 is still a bit steep and maybe others in this forum may have given this matter more thought. Let’s hear from you.

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#2

tl;dr: lower the price and sell more copies = more profits.

That’s not a new thing on this forum. I guess everyone including the ST team knows that but it doesn’t happen after all.


The most aggressive saying that I have ever heard against this is like “if ST cannot earn you $80, do not buy it”. It makes sense to me. I have forgotten where I saw that though.

Note: If someone bought/upgrade ST3 when it was in beta, he/she could have used it for more than 4 years. For me, till now, that’s $20/year or $1.67/month. (Okay, I am joking. I upgraded from ST2 so I did not pay full $80.)

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#3

But $80 IS more than most people can spend.
For comparison, look at the pricing model of Bootstrap Studio, a drag-and-drop webpage designer that uses the Bootstrap library

There’s a $30 yearly and lifetime (includes all future updates and new versions) price of $60. That’s a good proposition. you can try it for the $30 and, if you’re happy with the package, gamble on a forever license next year.

Saying “if ST cannot earn you $80, do not buy it” is just salesman bullshit. ST is a productivity tool, not a cash cow in its own right. Sure, you’ll knock out HTML, CSS and JS code skeletons quicker and remove some of the tedium. But the time saved is nearly always going to be invested in the same project.

You don’t seem to have considered the support obligation at all and how that’s going to increase disproportionately with number of users and their diverging expectations. Management of customers’ expectations is an important activity for any company in business for the long haul. I wouldn’t be surprised if STHQ Pty were in fact afraid of getting a surge of ~ 100,000 customers and then finding that they had to spend a good share of the say $2 million (@ unit price of $20) on hiring 20 support staff @ $40,000 a head every year when the only income from the existing customers is the update price.

I really like the small memory space needed for ST and its quick response. I don’t like the huge memory overhead and data monitoring of Atom and VS Code. So let’s work something out here !

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#4

To pay $80 at once is harder. To pay $80/12 monthly for a year is easier, indeed. Despite the result is the same.

People do try ST for $0 and hesitate to buy it or not, until the doom of the world. Actually, I think only very few of them will buy ST. They are just evaluating ST forever. For them, maybe, buy ST = pay $80 to remove a popup. So it’s not worthy for them at all. And if you do buy ST without using the dev build. You do just remove a popup and support the ST team.

The temptation to make people buy ST is small because the fact that people think that they can evaluate ST forever. Seriously, if I am not going to support the ST team, I may not buy ST. There are too many ways to use it for free without being actually punished. (You know what I mean. :slight_smile:)

That means ST makes your works done faster but you actually gain nothing?

Q&A were almost answered by forum members if they had been ever answered. ST team usually only answer questions which can be solved only by them. But the community is quite useful in my experience as long as you provide a good question with decent context (rather than just post “it’s not working, please help”).

The only thing I do not like ST is that their bug fixing. ST team seems to work on bugs which make their application not usable. There are already MANY tiny bugs reported in ST.

If it works, it would have worked. ST is not just invented yesterday. It’s like almost 10 years and it’s just… expansive all those days.

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#5

I’m perplexed why you need to think so deeply about this, given that the unregistered version has effectively identical functionality to the registered version.

Leave it to those inside Sublime HQ and on the payroll to worry about this stuff.

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#6

Ah, I see that now.
I just assumed it was just for 1 month.

You talk sense, frou :grinning:

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#7

On the contract:

Sublime Text may be downloaded and evaluated for free, 
however a license must be purchased for continued use. 
There is currently no enforced time limit for the evaluation.

Source: https://www.sublimetext.com/3


What actually happen: People “evaluate” ST forever.

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#8

Yeah, just read that now . . .

But I like to pay a fair price.
Maybe the instalments plan that you suggest is the solution . . .
if STHQ Pty is happy to lose more on payment charges !

Maybe we can accumulate donations until they reach $80 . . . :grinning:

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#9

Yes. People can save $80 in “no enforced time limit” until they have enough money and willing to buy it.

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#10

A thread like this one springs up from time to time. I freely admit that I was an “installment plan” purchaser.

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#11

Sublime is something I can’t live without, incredible productivity boost. $80 is way underpriced imho

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#12

*Sublime is something I can’t live without . . . *

:astonished: Have you discussed this with your doctor ?

Seriously, please elaborate . . . using a sample project to show how this productivity gain was attained. :star_struck:

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#13

I assume this is not the same in the entire world, so there will be differences, but Sublime Text is aimed at software developers, which have a decent salary nowdays.
I struggle to see $80/lifetime be a high price for a job that can go on for a lot of years.

Usually freelance jobs have a higher entry cost than a computer, a text editor and internet+power.

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#14

I struggle to see $80/lifetime be a high price …

But it isn’t paid over a lifetime - it’s paid in one go !
$80 easy to pay for a small utility program by the average developer with family, mortgage, car loan, health insurance, life insurance, pension, children’s education fund, etc, etc ? :scream:

Neither is it lifetime.
When ST 4.0 comes out we have to pay more.

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#15

As I said. ↓

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#16

I think this makes a product healthier. Otherwise, eventually, the product will no longer be profitable and the author will just leave it dead. For what I found, the upgrade fee from ST2 to ST3 is $30.
http://www.sublimetext.com/blog/articles/upgrades

There are still 0.5% people using ST2 even if ST3 has been released for a VERY long time. So I guess history will repeat when ST4 is out. And it may take even longer for people to upgrade to ST4 because I expect the bundled Python version will be upgraded to hopefully at least 3.8. So you can try to save $30 in “no enforced time limit” until they have enough money and willing to upgrade it?

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#17

I believe @tamj hit the nail on the head with their analysis of the price point: $80 means fewer paying customers to support; and those who choose to “evaluate” long-term may one day find they can afford/want to pay and meantime may spread the word about ST’s benefits to other potential customers. This is certainly how it worked for me and I have always thought it a great pricing model.
I was first introduced to ST at a low paid job when I couldn’t justify paying, but after a few months, and finding I could switch between Windows, Mac and Linux environments with ease, I was very happy to pay for a quality product. After six years it is excellent value.
I have also installed Sublime Merge. As I only use this occasionally I am still on “evaluation” but can see that personal circumstances may one day make sense to pay for it.

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#18

@jfcherng

Jack, I’ve had it in earnest for 1 week. (Okay, I’ve looked at it casually a year ago but seldom used its power - in fact I didn’t even know what Emmet could do then :flushed:) But already I’m getting pop-ups looking for me to buy the damn thing.
Maybe we should all wait till ST 4 comes out :grinning:
Just joking.

@braedsjaa

… finding I could switch between Windows, Mac and Linux environments with ease …

Whoa ! You saying that if I get it for Windows, I can freely download the Linux version ? I’d sure love that as I’m sick of the memory sucking sump that Win 10 has become.
I saw that ST was written in C and Python. I’d thought that different versions (Win/Linux/OS) would have been compiled for each op system. And whenever there are different versions, there are different transactions and separate charges . . .

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#19

Yes, you get a per-user license and may use that on as many machines and operating systems as you want.

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#20

The ability to use it cross platform was the thing that pushed me to buy Sublime initially (aside from all the other cool features). I code outside of work as well as inside work, but I don’t code on the same systems I do at work. At the time, I primarily coded on Windows at work, but used macOS at home. Now I’m using Linux at work and macOS at home.

The freedom of not being bound by the shackles of a specific OS was a big deal for me. Now I can code freely where ever I am, and I don’t have to lose my muscle memory of where things are in my editor or what shortcuts I use (outside of using super for macOS vs ctrl in Windows/Linux :slightly_smiling_face:).

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