Mini-rant time: subscription services are a good business model. Being in the industry I know this is one of the few sure ways to maintain a continuous flow of revenue, when the price is right and the service is good.
However, it must be done in a easy way for both the user and the distributor. I have just had a bad example now. I have bought 160547 WorldMate for Windows Mobile Smartphone to write a review.
The functionality in the software is great, and the software is completely, 100% subscription based. But not all functionality seems to be working ok. And the one failing right now is the one that manages the subscription.
On this subscription-based software, if the subscription expires even the features that run on the local device, like World Clock and World Map are disabled. Ok, that's the rules set for this software and accepted when I bought the software - but I still think the local features should be always available once the software is unlocked once.
But that is not the big problem.
I first ran into problems when I installed the program on a mini SD card and the Today plug-in started playing up. I then removed the program and reinstalled it in the main memory, on the same Smartphone. To my surprise it wouldn't accept my registration key.
I found out from the developer that the key sent to the buyer is for one use only.
Fair enough, got another key. This was 21 March. It's now 05 April, and on launching the program I see the message "Your subscription has expired. Please re-subscribe".
Please... Don't do this to your customers. The subscription is supposed to last one year, not two weeks. And I can understand having a subscription for services like Flight Information, or Weather Information and Maps. But for World Clock?
I still have WorldMate on my Pocket PC, but the old version which only needed a registration code. Much more reliable.
I have seem more and more developers moving away from registration, supplying full software copies, and some going the subscription way. But you have to make it simple for the users! Having to request a new subscription code only after 14 days is not funny - and most users will not like the idea (like myself). Most will not ask for a new key, removing the application and instead going away to another software title.
For my World Clock I use the 81407 WorldTime, which gives a full copy (or at least until the version I have).