Smile Lowers Subscription Pricing for TextExpander 6

| Editorial

Smile SoftwareSmile announced Tuesday lower subscription prices for TextExpander 6, including the decision to extend half price subscriptions for those upgrading to a lifetime discount. The move comes in the wake of a fierce outcry from customers and pundits after announcing that TextExpander 6 would be subscription-only.

New pricing for TextExpander 6 is $4.16 per month if billed monthly, or $39.96, if billed annually (that's $3.33 per month). This compares to $4.95 per month/$47.52 per year at launch.

That not only makes the half-off upgrade pricing just under $20 per year for those upgrading, Smile extended that offer to become a lifetime discount. Going further, Smile is allowing customers to get that upgrade pricing when upgrading from any version of TextExpander in the past, not just the most recent version.

As part of the company's different thinking on the subject, Smile has also brought back TextExpander 5 for OS X and TextExpander 3 + Custom Keyboard for iOS, both of which are available for one-time purchases through the App Store.

The hue and cry in the echo chamber when Smile launched TextExpander 6 was loud and almost universally negative. Our own Dave Hamilton took a far more nuanced approach, embracing the improvements that could be made possible by subscription income.

Smile has always been a very customer-focused company. I've been interacting with Smile for many years and have made no bones about being a fan. It's possible this move still won't make everyone happy, but I applaud it.

The repositioned subscription pricing should be much more palatable to new customers (who theoretically wouldn't be comparing it to anything anyway). More importantly, the lifetime discount to any customer of any prior version is a huge effort to recognize those customers who have helped make Smile what it is.

In my book, $20 a year for TextExpander is a no-brainer, especially for those who already rely on it. $39.96 a year is less of a no-brainer, but new customers can try it for free and make their own informed choice.

In one move, Smile eliminated almost all cause for its existing customers to be disgruntled and positioned TextExpander for the future, too. That's a solid effort.

[Update: Title changed from "Drops" to "Lowers" to avoid confusion. - Editor]

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Might be better titled “Smile Software lowers subscription pricing…”  The subscription model is staying put. It’s just cheaper now.


Hagen said: ”... The subscription model is staying put. It’s just cheaper now.”

The subscription model is staying put, & yes, it IS cheaper now, but seems to be more to what Smile’s apparently offering than just that cheaper subscription model:
“As part of the company’s different thinking on the subject, Smile has also brought back TextExpander 5 for OS X and TextExpander 3 + Custom Keyboard for iOS, both of which are available for one-time purchases through the App Store.”  - As I interpret that, Smile seems to be also offering non-subscription stand-alone TextExpanders 5 & 3 apps (which hopefully will be subject to occasionally upgrades, for a while).

Bryan Chaffin

You’re right about the original title! I didn’t consider the alternate reading of “Drops.” I changed it to “Lowers” and appreciate the note.

BurmaYank, Smile said TextExpander 5 would be supported on the next major release of OS X, but that there were no guarantees after that.


If all or even many popular software programs were to be subscription only the monthly cost would rocket higher rapidly. That will make users begin to feel squeezed financially like they are by cable providers. The market will decide this in the long run. I would expect competition to pick up with new non-subscription programs as alternatives.


I used to be a big fan of Smile’s TextExpander until they started making the reinstall process so unfriendly. In Smile’s case they wanted my previous license number (the one I had upgraded from) and my current license number. It was almost like doing a reinstall of MS Office. They seemed so afraid that I was doing something wrong. What I found especially distasteful was how greedy Smile appeared, if I am correct, by slipping a price increase in their proposed monthly fee. I

Then I found Typinator ( Typinator is quicker, easier to use and more affordable. I have not looked back. I don’t mind companies making a fair profit but I don’t support greedy companies if I can avoid it.

Now let’s think about the two models for getting new and updated software. I will call them the upgrade and subscription models. I think that the subscription model debate can be distilled down to this, trust developers to offer you value for their efforts for a monthly fee. I appreciate good software developers and want them rewarded for their efforts. Developers need consumers and consumers need software. Under the upgrade model developers created software that was offered to the public for a price. The initial software program was sold as a ‘license’ to use that software essentially in perpetuity. The program would typically be updated to address bugs that appeared subsequent to the initial software release. At the same time the developer would then begin working on the next upgrade to that software. This upgrade/new version typically was sold at a specific price and had an upgrade price for current users. Under this model if the developer did not provide real value the customer could choose not to upgrade. Stated another way this was a performance based model. Also there are cases in a program’s life where it pretty much has reached maturity and there are very few new features that need to be added. Think of a Swiss Army knife. How many features can you jam on one before it becomes impractical? The same holds true for software. When this happens the developer needs to look for a new need to address with a new software program.

The subscription model locks the consumer into a model where the developer is ‘trusted’ to offer valuable updates to the software. This allows less scrupulous developers to increase the cost of their software by breaking the cost down to a monthly amount. So under the subscription model you might charge $4 a month ($48 a year) which seems like a small amount whereas under the upgrade model one might only pay a $24 one time charge. The advocates of the subscription model sell it by stating that you will get new features earlier and it is beneficial for the developers. I am sure that these are true. Some arguments are like a good magician, they get you to look where they want you to look not where you should look.

With the upgrade model you can easily evaluate the value of the new features relative to the upgrade price. So if the developer has not offered you value for the upgrade price you can decline until the next upgrade comes out. This lets the developer know the value place on their efforts and the particular upgraded features. Also some lighter software users might only need to upgrade with every other release. With the subscription model you are forced to pay for features that may or may not have value to you. So I am not an advocate of the subscription model. I want to make my purchase based on features offered not promises that I will get updates sooner. For similar reasons I own my home and car.

If a developer is head over heels in love with the subscription model then my suggestion would be to offer both models, like homes and automobiles. This would seem to be a win-win model. You can buy (the paid upgrade model) or lease (the subscription model). Give the consumer a choice. If a developer only offers a subscription model that is a developer I seek to avoid. My choice would be for a developer that offers the upgrade model or both models. These last two models indicate to me that that developer is looking for a fair way to balance developer and consumer interests.

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