Could this be the end of Notability’s reign?

In an effort to make Notability a free app for K-12 institutions, Ginger Labs has gone subscription. We’ve dreaded this day for years, 2021 is the year it finally happened. We believe Notability would have a better survival chance if it charged K-12 institutions (new users) instead.

SaaS (Software as a Service) is becoming popular in 2021. More and more developers are realising that they need a constant stream of income to survive. Unfortunately, the reality is that not many applications can sustain a subscription business model. That might just be the case for our beloved Notability. The new subscription package from Notability is extremely unfair and ridiculous! We hope our developers can hear us out on this one.

App Store Policy Violation

No app has ever stripped away already-bought features for current users! It’s unfair! Notability MUST NOT take away basic features that paid users have enjoyed using all these years. It is a violation of App Store regulation. According to the App Store Review Guidelines (section 3.1.2(a)), ‘If you are changing your existing app to a subscription-based business model, you should not take away the primary functionality existing users have already paid for. For example, let customers who have already purchased a “full game unlock” continue to access the full game after you introduce a subscription model for new customers.’ Notability is clearly violating this.

Ridiculous limitations for new users

Not much creative thought went into this subscription. From our experience, not much thought ever does. We thought PDF Expert was bad, this is much worse (even at a fraction of the price PDF Expert charges). The Starter package (which hints at a potential third package) has:

  • Limited note edits, paper templates and favourite tools
  • No sync across devices, auto backup, handwriting recognition and Math conversion

Those (except the new page templates they recently added) are all the features users paid for when the app was a one-time purchase. They are the MOST BASIC features that make for a good note-taking app. Without them, Notability is nothing. That’s what they have decided to sell; every other note-taking app on the market offers those for a one-time purchase! How are they going to convince new users to pay for this? Instead of going to, say, Nebo.

No subscription value for old users

If Notability decides to let us keep what we paid for (which we hope they do); here is what the subscription is offering us:

  • Premium paper templates
  • Digital stationery (planners, stickers, themes and journals).

As a team, we don’t need paper templates, we use the Paperless X digital notebooks for that. We also don’t need any digital planners or stickers, so we won’t need to pay for either. As a team, we prefer get things done apps. The premium content they are trying to sell us is not for everyone.

Notability doesn’t care about any of us. As Paperless X we thought it was just us, as app reviewers, but now we realise that this extends to all its millions of users. We sincerely hope that they create better relationships with their new users if they survive this. This ought to have been a paid update for old users. We understand our developers need money to survive, we all do. This does more harm than good for Ginger Labs.

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