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Periodic online subscriptions add up

By Jean-Claude Elias - Apr 25,2019 - Last updated at Apr 25,2019

Do not underestimate online subscriptions that look not so expensive at first sight. They all add up in the end. Even a couple of dollars a month per account matter when you reach a significant number of subscriptions that you have to keep renewing and paying for, which is exactly the where we all are headed, whether we like it or not.

There is a major trend in the world of IT and it is about (not) buying software and services. And of course it is Internet-related. The big players in the game, and the smaller ones as well, do not want to let you do one-time purchases anymore, but rather to go for periodic subscriptions, monthly or yearly.

The two most notorious subscriptions were introduced by Adobe and Microsoft a few years ago. Adobe does not sell anymore lifetime software licenses, like it used to do for its leading applications like Photoshop and Illustrator; at least not when it comes to the latest versions. With the older ones, and provided you accept to live with that, you may be lucky and find a reseller that still has them in stock. Otherwise, and if you only want the latest and the very best, like Adobe CC Suite for example, only a periodic and rather expensive subscription will do. There is simply no other choice.

Microsoft is only just a little nicer. Whereas it strongly pushes you to use its Office 360 Suite (Word, Excel, etc.) through online subscriptions, you still have the option to buy regular, lifetime Office licences if you prefer.

The above two are but the tip of the iceberg. In addition to Adobe and MS-Office is a long, a very long list of services that now are very common and that more and more people are choosing to subscribe to every month.

If Adobe’s and Microsoft’s subscriptions are in the tens and hundreds of dollars, most of the other services are in the units only. Examples: Dropbox cloud storage professional is about $9 a month, just like Netflix video streaming. Spotify music streaming is a humble $5 and Amazon Prime $13. Bein TV sport channels vary but the cost averages $20 per month.

Teamviewer application, a very popular software frequently used to access other computers remotely, has also recently shifted from lifetime licensing to monthly subscriptions costing an average of $30 a month. Let us not forget our mobile phone and Internet monthly subscriptions, or the eventual ones to online newspapers that we may also have.

The list goes on and on and is extending every few months. Soon even the basic, essential MS-Windows operating is going to be on monthly subscription basis.

Analysing the cost of each service separately and evaluating its usefulness makes perfect sense, and in most cases it leads to the obvious conclusion: it is worth every dollar and it makes you save money in the end.

Indeed, one month of Netflix is less expensive than one evening out at the movies for two people. By letting you access other computers remotely, for whatever reason you may need to do that, Teamviewer makes you save not only precious time but direct, very tangible transportation cost.

The problem therefore is not in the feasibility or in the principle of subscribing to online services, but in the simple fact that you can easily reach $400 to $500 a month, in total subscriptions. This in no way is negligible for the typical, average household, given that it is only to use your computers, the Internet and to enjoy a little entertainment at home. Food, education, travel, rent, clothing, health expenses are not included! Just make sure you are aware of what is happening to you and you realise how much you are spending — or maybe saving.

At corporate level the IT industry is pushing businesses in the same direction, which is not to buy expensive and hard to maintain computer servers, but to subscribe to the cloud services that are slowly but surely replacing them. However, and contrary to families and households, big corporations have their accountants and auditors to remind them how much exactly they are spending.

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