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Author Topic: Topaz moving to paid upgrades...  (Read 1365 times)

Rajan Parrikar

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Topaz moving to paid upgrades...
« on: February 13, 2020, 01:58:20 pm »

Robert DeCandido PhD

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Re: Topaz moving to paid upgrades...
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2020, 02:33:43 pm »

"One of the great things about Topaz Labs, sofar, is their commitment to free (even version) upgrades to owners of a previous version license. That both creates a lot of value (for money) for those who invest in their products, and it also creates an incentive for them to keep innovating, to attract new customers."

Not so great any longer...and with programs that are not working for all...

I am holding onto my wallet!
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bjanes

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Re: Topaz moving to paid upgrades...
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2020, 03:16:45 pm »

...for 4 of its signature products.

https://community.topazlabs.com/t/ongoing-product-value-and-paid-upgrades/13299

This link does not work with my system.

What are the products in question?

I would think that the paid upgrade option would apply only to new purchases. Existing customers have been promised free lifetime upgrades, and charging for upgrades would break their promise. I have not read the fine print of the agreement, but the lawyers might find a way to worm out of their promise.

Regards,

Bill
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Ray Harrison

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Re: Topaz moving to paid upgrades...
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2020, 03:39:26 pm »

When I got the email today from them that had the words: "in order to better serve our valued users...", I knew something had to be up  :D. I wasn't able to get to the link, but figured it had to be something like this.

Cheers,
Ray
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Rajan Parrikar

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Re: Topaz moving to paid upgrades...
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2020, 04:18:49 pm »

This link does not work with my system.

What are the products in question?

I would think that the paid upgrade option would apply only to new purchases. Existing customers have been promised free lifetime upgrades, and charging for upgrades would break their promise. I have not read the fine print of the agreement, but the lawyers might find a way to worm out of their promise.

Regards,

Bill


This is what it says:

*****
Quote
Hello everyone! If we haven’t already been acquainted, I’m Eric, CEO of Topaz Labs. I hope you’re off to a great start in 2020. I have an announcement that may seem like bad news at first, but will end up being good news in the long run:

Starting in August 2020, we will charge for product upgrades to DeNoise AI, Sharpen AI, Gigapixel AI, and Mask AI.

Every company says that they value their customers. When we started Topaz Labs many years ago, we tried hard to figure out ways to show this through actions instead of just words. One of the ways we did this was by offering free major upgrades for all of our products. Conceptually, this felt really good to us; we loved the idea of acting differently than faceless corporations by giving ongoing value for free instead of charging for every little thing.

Within the last few years, though, we started to realize something. Product development and research is expensive! It turns out that if we can only earn money by releasing new products, there’s a very powerful internal incentive to only do that. Despite our best intentions, we found that we weren’t focusing as much as we wanted on improving our existing products. We ended up with several different products that did similar things, which caused confusion about which tool to use. Although it started out with good intentions, our free upgrade policy ultimately prevented us from delivering the best possible products to you.

Make no mistake about it: this situation was 100% our fault. We were not thoughtful enough about aligning our pricing structure with continuous improvement of our products. Since realizing this, we took some major steps to improve in 2019:

Consolidated all of our offerings into a single product per category (noise reduction, sharpening, effect creation, etc.)
Massively shifted our internal goals to prioritize improving existing products over releasing new ones
Stopped advertising free upgrades as a policy
Despite not advertising it anymore, in 2019 alone we were proud to give away over $8M worth of claimed free upgrades to major new products like DeNoise 6 => DeNoise AI, InFocus => Sharpen AI, Adjust 6 => Adjust AI, and Studio 2. We’ve already seen a major improvement in the usefulness and experience of our products, and we’re excited to continue down this path in 2020 and beyond.

The next step is to actually move to paid upgrades to finally align our pricing policy with how we want to build products as a company. Basically: it’s our fault, yet I’m asking you to lock arms with us and walk through this phase of our development by accepting this change. I know it’s a lot to ask for, but I hope you can agree that this path really is best for continued improvements to the products that we hope you’ve grown to rely upon.

Here’s how it will work:

Upgrade license renewals

After buying a product for the first time, you’ll receive 1 year of free major + minor upgrades from your date of purchase.
After your first year of free upgrades is complete, you can buy another year at any time in the future - for any single product for $49.99. If you own multiple products, you can activate a year of account-wide upgrades for $99.99.
Only DeNoise, Sharpen, Gigapixel, and Mask will require an upgrade license in 2020. Other products remain under the old policy.
We want you to own your software instead of having to pay to keep accessing it. Once you buy one of our products, you can keep using your purchased version as long as you want regardless of upgrade status. We’re really proud that some of you have continued to trust our products for over a decade after buying it once, and we’d love for this to continue.

Similarly, you should also be able to choose when to upgrade and not be penalized for it. If you don’t think a certain upgrade is worth it, don’t renew your upgrade license just yet. Wait until it actually includes something you want to pay for. This also incentivizes us to make sure that the improvements we do implement are useful enough for you to upgrade.

Example

As an example, let’s say you buy Gigapixel AI for the first time today (2/13/2020), so you receive free upgrades to Gigapixel AI until 2/13/2021.

We then release Gigapixel v4.5 in March, v5 in May, v5.1 in August, and v5.2 in December 2020. You receive all these upgrades for free as part of your initial 1-year upgrade license.

Now imagine we release Gigapixel v5.3 in May 2021 and you decide it’s not worth it. Even though your upgrade license has expired, you can continue using Gigapixel v5.2 (your last owned version) for as long as you like.

Gigapixel v5.3 in May 2021 has a feature you really want, so you purchase an upgrade then. You receive Gigapixel v5.3 and another year of free upgrades starting from the time you purchased the upgrade until May 2022.

Existing customers

For the listed products above, existing customers have an upgrade license starting from a year since they purchased. For example, if you bought DeNoise AI in November 2019, your upgrade license will last until November 2020.

That said, we thought it’d be unfair to immediately expire licenses for people that have purchased over a year ago. So for anyone in this situation, we’re extending a minimum 6 months of upgrade licenses. Even if you first bought our products years ago, the earliest you’d possibly need to pay for an upgrade is in August 2020.

Starting soon, you’ll be able to see the remaining time on your upgrade licenses in your Account.

Why?

I know this is a major shift. We’ve offered free upgrades for so long that it’s become part of what we’re known for. I guess this change all comes down to a single core idea: to be truly useful to you, we believe we should be offering fewer products that go deeper rather than a buffet of shallow products.

In other words, we don’t want to offer you novelties that you’ll stop using after a month. Instead, if you buy DeNoise AI, we want to help you handle noise reduction forever through our software. This means constantly evaluating and adding the most promising cutting-edge noise reduction techniques, relentlessly improving integration with your workflow, and continually adding major new functionality like batch processing (just released!) and selections. You shouldn’t have to worry about noise reduction ever again… or at the very least, you should be able to rely on us to worry about it for you. Paid upgrades are necessary for us to support this kind of deep focus.

Again, this was not a quick or easy decision to make, but we think it’s a necessary one in order for us to deliver massive value for you in the future. All I ask of you is that you give us a chance to prove this through our product improvements in 2020 and beyond.

Thanks so much,

Eric Yang
CEO, Topaz Labs

Let us know any questions or comments below!

[Unquote]
*****

fdisilvestro

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Re: Topaz moving to paid upgrades...
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2020, 05:08:12 pm »

There is no way for a software business to survive by having free lifetime upgrades. I have seen plenty of times these kind of promises that end years later in messages from the CEO basically saying "you pay for upgrades or we go out of business".


I would think that the paid upgrade option would apply only to new purchases. Existing customers have been promised free lifetime upgrades, and charging for upgrades would break their promise. I have not read the fine print of the agreement, but the lawyers might find a way to worm out of their promise.

Regards,

Bill

If that was the case, it would be easier for them to just change the name of the products (i.e. Gigapixel Plus) and pretend is a new product. You can keep using your old licence, but will not receive upgrades any longer

elliot_n

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Re: Topaz moving to paid upgrades...
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2020, 05:32:08 pm »


If that was the case, it would be easier for them to just change the name of the products (i.e. Gigapixel Plus) and pretend is a new product.

They already did this with the release of Mask AI (a dumbed-down version of ReMask 5).
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bjanes

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Re: Topaz moving to paid upgrades...
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2020, 05:43:09 pm »

There is no way for a software business to survive by having free lifetime upgrades. I have seen plenty of times these kind of promises that end years later in messages from the CEO basically saying "you pay for upgrades or we go out of business".

If that was the case, it would be easier for them to just change the name of the products (i.e. Gigapixel Plus) and pretend is a new product. You can keep using your old licence, but will not receive upgrades any longer

That is a well taken point, but nonetheless that is not what I understood when I purchased these products. The CEO does make a valid point that many Topaz products do essentially the same task and it is time for consolidation of their product line. I think the announced upgrade price of $49.99 for one year upgrade of any one product and $99.99 for a year's upgrades of all products is rather high and is a significant proportion of the original selling price.

Helicon Focus and Zerene Stacker are two outstanding products that have lifetime upgrades. They can make money by selling to new customers.

Bill
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fdisilvestro

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Re: Topaz moving to paid upgrades...
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2020, 06:14:26 pm »

I think the announced upgrade price of $49.99 for one year upgrade of any one product and $99.99 for a year's upgrades of all products is rather high and is a significant proportion of the original selling price.


Yes, but I take this as "we are going to a subscription model but we don't have the balls to say it that way due to the potential negative response from the users".


Helicon Focus and Zerene Stacker are two outstanding products that have lifetime upgrades. They can make money by selling to new customers.

Outstanding products indeed, but can they survive that way? Helicon has an option of a yearly licence and Zerene looks to me (I may be wrong) as a one-man shop, with completely different business dynamics compared to a multi-employee company. What would happen with Zerene the day (God forbid) Mr. Rik Littlefield is no longer with us?

Robert DeCandido PhD

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Re: Topaz moving to paid upgrades...
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2020, 07:26:31 pm »

"For the listed products above, existing customers have an upgrade license starting from a year since they purchased. For example, if you bought DeNoise AI in November 2019, your upgrade license will last until November 2020.

"That said, we thought it’d be unfair to immediately expire licenses for people that have purchased over a year ago. So for anyone in this situation, we’re extending a minimum 6 months of upgrade licenses. Even if you first bought our products years ago, the earliest you’d possibly need to pay for an upgrade is in August 2020."

They certainly just backed out of their original agreement with customers.
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jrsforums

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Re: Topaz moving to paid upgrades...
« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2020, 07:32:32 pm »

"For the listed products above, existing customers have an upgrade license starting from a year since they purchased. For example, if you bought DeNoise AI in November 2019, your upgrade license will last until November 2020.

"That said, we thought it’d be unfair to immediately expire licenses for people that have purchased over a year ago. So for anyone in this situation, we’re extending a minimum 6 months of upgrade licenses. Even if you first bought our products years ago, the earliest you’d possibly need to pay for an upgrade is in August 2020."

They certainly just backed out of their original agreement with customers.

I expect it was a “practice” to provide free upgrades, not a specific “agreement”.
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John

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Re: Topaz moving to paid upgrades...
« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2020, 08:16:16 pm »

The message was an interesting read.

I have benefited greatly from the previous upgrade policy. My purchases were well over a year ago, so it seems I have 6 more months of free updates that may or may not improve the results of the AI,  or may or may not degrade the results of the AI.

Then I get to pay for the chance to see if further updates may or may not improve the results of the AI,  or may or may not degrade the results of the AI.

I have become accustomed to installing Topaz AI updates with benign resignation, which leaves me to regard this announcement as untimely.





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JaapD

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Re: Topaz moving to paid upgrades...
« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2020, 02:00:38 am »

I don’t appreciate their new policy at all. Topaz is very well aware that if they did this in the first place, in combination with the fact that their AI products are far away from end-development, their success would not have been as is now. Their success is highly dependent on their customers and Topaz is not in the same position as Adobe (f@ck you mentality).

I made my purchase decision of the fact of free lifetime upgrades, expecting Topaz to incrementally improve their software until it’s sufficiently good that I can actually use it on my images (read: no artifacts).

I understand that AI software development is difficult but I don’t want to pay for their software development knowledge / skills built up. This should be a corporate investment. If I knew this before then I would never have purchased their AI bundle in the first place; not this early in time on an AI product line with so many defects.

As already proposed their new policy should be for new customers only.

Regards,
Jaap.
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Cem

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Re: Topaz moving to paid upgrades...
« Reply #13 on: February 14, 2020, 03:45:51 am »

I fully agree with Jaap. I am in the same situation, free upgrades were part of the buying decision for what were essentially beta products which did not yet deliver what they promised.
I think that they should change their policy for new customers and bite the bullet on the existing ones. Deliver what you've promised Topaz.

I don’t appreciate their new policy at all. Topaz is very well aware that if they did this in the first place, in combination with the fact that their AI products are far away from end-development, their success would not have been as is now. Their success is highly dependent on their customers and Topaz is not in the same position as Adobe (f@ck you mentality).

I made my purchase decision of the fact of free lifetime upgrades, expecting Topaz to incrementally improve their software until it’s sufficiently good that I can actually use it on my images (read: no artifacts).

I understand that AI software development is difficult but I don’t want to pay for their software development knowledge / skills built up. This should be a corporate investment. If I knew this before then I would never have purchased their AI bundle in the first place; not this early in time on an AI product line with so many defects.

As already proposed their new policy should be for new customers only.

Regards,
Jaap.
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bjanes

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Re: Topaz moving to paid upgrades...
« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2020, 05:18:47 am »

I fully agree with Jaap. I am in the same situation, free upgrades were part of the buying decision for what were essentially beta products which did not yet deliver what they promised.
I think that they should change their policy for new customers and bite the bullet on the existing ones. Deliver what you've promised Topaz.

+1

Cem's observation that the AI suite products are essentially beta versions is a good one. The frequent major upgrades attest to their essential  beta status. Topaz has not yet gone to a totally subscription model since the older versions will still work although they lack essential features of the newer versions. With a mature product the upgrades are incremental as with Adobe Photoshop.

Cheers,

Bill
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Bart_van_der_Wolf

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Re: Topaz moving to paid upgrades...
« Reply #15 on: February 14, 2020, 05:35:44 am »

I fully agree with Jaap. I am in the same situation, free upgrades were part of the buying decision for what were essentially beta products which did not yet deliver what they promised.

Correct, I agree. But that "free upgrades for life" did come at a cost. Their needed to innovate in order to attract new customers was a great thing, but it also meant that new products were essentially beta/early release products, and could stay that way for quite a while because releasing new products became more important that solving issues with the existing ones. And they recognized that themselves and wanted to improve.

Quote
I think that they should change their policy for new customers and bite the bullet on the existing ones. Deliver what you've promised Topaz.

I agree with that since we early adopters allowed them to reach the scale of operation they now have. And they also had access to a large pool of beta testers, some really beta testers of unreleased products or features, others as customers on a wide range of platforms with software issues that remained to be resolved. I do not know how/if the Beta testing community will change its participation, knowing that they will 'have' to ultimately pay for their own service and be able to benefit from a new stable product.

I do appreciate the somewhat less aggressive Upgrade policy, where one can postpone upgrading until the new features become relevant enough to spend some more money, and then be fully eligible for a year of upgrades. That's the same model that e.g. Qimage started using after more than a decade of free Upgrades and frequent Updates, but it also assumes that Updates are timely and that they actually fix stuff. Taking the pressure off of creating new, but instead improving quality should allow that to happen. Wait until its worth Upgrading, which still makes it worthwhile for TopazLabs to keep innovating and create added value in an Upgrade, quite unlike a regular monthly/annual subscription model, e.g. as with Lightroom.

I'm not thrilled by the change because it breaks a promise, but I do understand its necessity. The Quantity (to attract new paying customers) over Quality (of bugfree functional tools) practice was starting to hurt them more than it benefitted the users. Something had to change. Hopefully, they will fine-tune the transition a bit more for existing users. The method they have chosen still gives an incentive to them to keep innovating, otherwise people won't Upgrade each time.
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kers

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Re: Topaz moving to paid upgrades...
« Reply #16 on: February 14, 2020, 05:57:20 am »

I think that when they started with the AI-versions they should have made this statement, not a year later.
It must have been a logical decision for obviously they first wanted as much as new and old costumers to get to know the now not perfect but functional AI-versions.
I find their policy logical but the upgrade price is about the price i paid for the new version. Should have been half of it.
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Bart_van_der_Wolf

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Re: Topaz moving to paid upgrades...
« Reply #17 on: February 14, 2020, 06:17:17 am »

I think that when they started with the AI-versions they should have made this statement, not a year later.

Yes, but I think it was exactly the amount of issues caused by (too) early releases of the AI series of products that triggered their decision.

Quote
It must have been a logical decision for obviously they first wanted as much as new and old costumers to get to know the now not perfect but functional AI-versions.
I find their policy logical but the upgrade price is about the price i paid for the new version. Should have been half of it.

Maybe the steep price will change when too few people actually pay for Upgrades ...
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JaapD

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Re: Topaz moving to paid upgrades...
« Reply #18 on: February 14, 2020, 06:45:13 am »

The ‘beta software’ statement is a good one, fully recognizable. We customers did not pay for a beta release of course and I would not appreciate needing to pay in let’s say 6 months’ time for an upgrade from beta status to something that might look like a proper release.

Regards,
Jaap.
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kers

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Re: Topaz moving to paid upgrades...
« Reply #19 on: February 14, 2020, 07:29:16 am »

The ‘beta software’ statement is a good one, fully recognizable. We customers did not pay for a beta release of course and I would not appreciate needing to pay in let’s say 6 months’ time for an upgrade from beta status to something that might look like a proper release.

Regards,
Jaap.

I agree that for new costumers buying into Ai the payed upgrade comes to soon. more reasonable was to start counting from the moment of the statement-13 feb 2020.
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