Introducing Optional OmniFocus Subscriptions


For those who might not have seen this on our blog

Introducing Optional OmniFocus Subscriptions

As long-time readers know, we’ve worked very hard over the last ten years to implement our flexible, customer-friendly licensing model in the App Store. When we started, the App Store only supported a pay up front model, which was far more limited that what we’d been used to with our own direct sales. But over the years, with the introduction of new technologies like in-app purchases and updated policies, we’ve gained the flexibility we now enjoy which lets us offer trials, upgrade discounts—and even price protection (so recent purchasers get a free upgrade to a new major version of the app when it ships).

In my last blog post, I also described how we’re working on making it easier for businesses, schools, and other organizations to license and deploy our iOS apps.

We think our current licensing model meets a lot of needs, and we will continue to offer this model for licensing our apps: we prefer for customers to view our apps as an investment, not an expense.

But our current model doesn’t cover every situation. It’s designed for software that you run on your own devices, where you can buy something from us and run it for as long as you wish (so long as you keep a compatible system around to run it). With this model, we still have customers running software they purchased from us 20+ years ago. (That’s a good investment!)

But as I mentioned in January’s roadmap, OmniFocus for the Web is a different sort of product. It’s a version of OmniFocus that runs on our computers, not yours. Running it on our computers means we have to maintain those computers, their network connections, power, and so on, as a constantly available online service, for as long as customers use the product. Running that service costs us money every month, so if we want the service to be sustainable we need an income stream which brings in money every month to cover those costs. In other words, this service model requires subscriptions—an arrangement where customers pay us money each month to keep the service going.

Beyond supporting this new service model, there are some other benefits to offering subscription pricing as an option. Some of you have told us that you’re frustrated by our current “a la carte” pricing model, where each edition of the app is purchased separately. That you would prefer the option to pay a subscription each year which covers the price of future upgrades and unlocks the app everywhere. That you’d rather not have to worry about when the next major upgrade is coming, budgeting for how much that will cost. That you don’t want to have to think about whether you’ve bought the app for Mac or for iOS; that instead, you just want to use it on whichever device you happen to be using. Offering a subscription option for our desktop and mobile apps would help with all of these requests.

To that end, when OmniFocus for the Web ships we’ll be rolling it out as part of a new OmniFocus subscription offering. This subscription will grant you access to OmniFocus for the Web, and will also unlock the Pro edition of OmniFocus on all of your other devices. Your subscription will cover the cost of all upgrades, so you’ll get the new OmniFocus 3 release today—and, when OmniFocus 4 ships some years down the road, you’ll get an automatic upgrade to it as well.

Now, some of you have already paid to upgrade to OmniFocus 3. If you have what you need, you don’t need to change anything: you can keep using OmniFocus 3 as you have been doing. New customers will also continue to be able to make a simple one-time investment to unlock OmniFocus 3 on their devices. We’re offering subscriptions as an additional purchasing option, not as a replacement for the existing options.

The OmniFocus subscription will cost $9.99/month, giving you access to the web service as well as OmniFocus Pro on all your Mac and iOS devices. If you’ve already invested in OmniFocus 3 and just want to add the web service, the cost for that will be $4.99/month.

These subscription options will be available when OmniFocus for the Web ships next month.

I should note that subscriptions do have significant downsides. The initial cost to start using the product is lower, but over time subscriptions will end up costing more—and unlike our one-time purchases, it’s not an investment: when you stop subscribing to OmniFocus you’ll lose access to the things that were being provided by that subscription. When a subscription ends you won’t be able to use OmniFocus for the Web any more—and any OmniFocus apps running on your own devices will go back to whatever state they were in before you subscribed. (If you never unlocked those apps, that means they’ll go into a free viewer mode where you can access your data and export it, but can no longer edit it.)

Whether subscriptions make sense for you is something only you can decide. But we’re pleased that we will soon be able to offer you that choice!

(Feedback? I’d love to hear from you! You can find me on twitter at @kcase, or send me email at

OmniFocus for the Web

Some customers have asked how we ended up with these subscription price points, so—for the curious—I thought I’d go ahead and explain a little bit more about how we got to the subscription options that we’ve announced.

First, by way of background, I shared some additional information on how we were thinking about our pricing in the episode of the Omni Show where we talked about building OmniFocus for the Web (

So we’ll be doing some sort of a subscription service. We have not yet determined that pricing because we have not yet determined the cost. Our thought is, though, that if we’re charging somebody money every month, let’s go ahead and throw in the one time costs involved in buying the app as well. So OmniFocus for the Web is not a stand alone product. It’s not currently envisioned that way. It’s a product that you use with OmniFocus on your Mac or OmniFocus on your iPhone or iPad.

But if you’re paying us some amount of money every month it might feel weird to then have to buy it again for a different platform. So our thought is we would just do a universal OmniFocus subscription price, and if you subscribe you get OmniFocus everywhere.

Our original plan was to simply offer one subscription price: $99.99/year. We then started thinking about how to give existing OmniFocus 3 customers credit for their investment, and decided to offer current OmniFocus 3 Pro customers a six month discount on their first year (so that first year would cost $49.99 rather than $99.99). But then we started thinking about all the complexity involved in getting people to register their existing purchases across multiple platforms to become eligible for that discount, about whether Standard should get some sort of discount, etc.—and decided the better customer experience was just to let you all make the choice yourselves, by offering the web app separately for $49.99/year to customers who already own the native app.

And then we decided to offer monthly subscription options as well, to reduce the cost of entry for people who might not be ready to commit to the entire year up front.

So that’s how we ended up where we are now: with $9.99/month (or $99.99/year) pricing for the primary OmniFocus subscription, and a discounted $4.99/month (or $49.99/year) option for existing customers—which means we’re giving existing customers an immediate $50 discount on the yearly plan, plus a $50 discount every year thereafter.

Again, these new subscriptions are completely optional for customers who are happy using our native apps on their own devices. If you’d prefer to purchase software for your devices up front (as I do myself!), we still offer our apps that way and have no plans to change that.