"A New Mindjet is Coming": Part 2 - continuing concerns with the subscription model

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Since the original thread with this name seems to have been deemed to be "answered" after 144 posts and has been closed for new comments, I thought I would continue the discussion here as a Part 2 and choose "idea" as the topic type.

While to their credit Mindjet have both allowed the discussion to continue as long as they have and have also responded to the criticisms with a cheaper subscription model for individual users, it is obvious that many users are still unhappy with the changes.

Continuing concerns revolve around several key themes. These include the quality of individual applications within the Mindjet package, the integration (or lack thereof) between these components, the cost of subscriptions particularly for new users and the more general question of whether a subscription approach is appropriate for specialist and predominantly computer-based software.

I'll comment briefly on the last two. First, the cost. It's interesting to compare Microsoft's new subscription pricing model to Mindjet's. Microsoft seem to be adopting a carrot and stick approach - the carrot is the competitive pricing of the subscription packages and the stick is the increased costs of and greater restrictions on perpetual licences - but at least the latter are still available,

The US $100 annual household subscription and the annual $150 per user for Microsoft's Home Premium Office and Small Business Premium respectively are very good value, especially when you consider that the Home version includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher and Access and can be installed on up to five devices.

This compares very favourably with Mindjet's $180 annual charge for new individual subscribers and $360 for business subscribers, essentially for PC and Mac versions of the same program and a collection of web-based connectivity, sharing and task management applications, with no option to purchase outright.

Second, the wider question of whether Mindjet or Microsoft should have introduced subscriptions still remains. One small company I am aware of tried to move some of its products from perpetual licences to a subscription system at prices far more modest than either Microsoft or Mindjet. Even at these pricing levels there was such an outcry that the company abandoned the attempt.

The company's conclusion based on user feedback was very simple but instructive: users hate paying subscriptions for non-cloud software. For better or worse, users seem to regard programs which they install on their computers as opposed to online applicationns as being "their" software and resent being forced to pay for it again on a monthly or annual basis, even if this charge compares favourably to the one-off purchase price.

I think this is even more of an issue for specialist software like Mindjet which is only ever going to have a small user base compared to Office. You would have to be a very intensive user of Mindjet to get anything like the value offered by the Office subscription package, even if you include the task sharing facilities which Mindjet is now promoting so strongly.

I'm curious about other people's views on this. Using Microsoft Office pricing as a benchmark, should Mindjet reduce its subscription cost further, to say $90 or even $50 annually for individual users? Should Mindjet offer at least a limited perpetual licence similar to Mircosoft - or should both companies abandon subscription models altogether, at least for the desktop versions of their software?
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Alex Gooding, Champion

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Posted 7 years ago

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DaveG

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I have been a user and evangelist for MindManager since Version 3. The new subscription business model has caused me to seek alternative mind mapping software. Not only do I no longer recommend MindJet, but I actively counsel clients to avoid the package. This is unfortunate as the mind mapping functions are good.

The value proposition relative to other software such as office or Salesforce is not there. Luckily there are a number of decent competitive mind mapping software packages on the market. The biggest problem is not pricing but the intended customer lock-in holding data editing hostage to renewing subscription. Office files can be easily migrated and opened by a number of packages. Even Microsoft who is not known for holding customers in high regard did not try to introduce Office 365 with terms as draconian as Mindjet. Mindjet could easily modify the new business model to be more friendly to current customers but it would be difficult trust the company in the future. It is obvious that MindJet has been targeting the enterprise accounts rather than individual users, but it is usually the individual what introduces an champions new software in an organization.

It will be interesting to see how current users and potential users respond to the new model. A major portion of my consulting work is business model development for technology companies. It is very rare for companies to succeed by screwing loyal customers. We will see if Mindjet is one of them. I am creating a Business Model Canvas (one page graphical business model) for the Mindjet model and competitors to illustrate why Mindjet is now one of the last choices on the market.
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Andrew Wilcox, Champion

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It took my distributor and Mindjet 12 days to supply me with a Mindjet for Individuals license for a client after full order information and payment information was provided (payment not taken until supplied). It's my only order for Mindjet 2012.

Normally I get a flurry of upgrades when a new version is released from my previous clients. Not this time. I don't chase these upgrades, they just order with the odd question.

Based on this, neither the offer or the process is working for my clients and I.

If you have purchased via other routes and need training or consultancy to exploit this fantastic software, I would be very pleased to help.
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John

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I think this is a really important issue, and I'm glad that SOOOO many people are voicing opinions about it, (most seem to be negative)

I came on the forum today to look up some info on how to create macros, but feel that everyone should say their piece on such an important issue.

First, I think mindjet should be proud to have created a product that so many users are passionate about, and willing to spend their limited time providing feedback on. I post on very few forums in a feedback capacity, but mindmanager 2012 is a great product, and worth standing up for.

1)I like the subscription model used by MS and Adobe. but the reasons are:
a) It allows you to get the latest software,
b) Pay monthly, cancel at any time with some plans.
c) flexible - there are different plans to sign up
d) you can choose perpetual or subs
e) significant savings,

Mindjet's offer has NONE of these. Offering a subscription service would allow you to offer people to put together the system they want, at a keen price. charge $6 per month for either the desktop client, or the cloud service, and everyone will have one. forever.(well not quite, but you get the picture). Then allow people to subscribe to different products, with savings for each additional product, and you're using the subs model well.

2) the cloud is great. i use it all the time, particularly dropbox, spotify, google sync and evernote. They are fabulous examples of what a great cloud app is. I don't need to attach my phone / mp3 via a cable, then wait while my pc shows a syncing icon while my music, notes, files and tasks get uploaded. it just works. it happens in the background an it' 100% trustworthy.
With Mindjet that's not the case. I've all but removed my maps from connect as i don't trust it.why?
a) no local storage (like dropbox) that is as easy to use as dropbox. ie - to save a file offline, you use save as. but then it's easy to accidentally open up the backup, so now you are editing 2 versions of the map.
b) I lost a map, as did several others by the look of it - https://community.mindjet.com/mindjet...
c) i lose data, as do others (and 7 months, no fix? jeez...) - https://community.mindjet.com/mindjet...

so it's great to promote the sharing features between people, but if the system doesn't share properly between devices, it's useless.

3) The mindjet website is very confusing, and all mention of the free connect version seems to have . try to find a propers comparison chart for the feature differences between the products (individual, business and 2012). you know, in a table, like this:
http://www.xmind.net/pricing/

4) Mindjet seems to only care about large corporations buying many 'seats' of software. You can publish words on your website that say different, but your actions don't match. I'd be interested for you to publish a graph showing your distribution of customers between large business, small business and individual user. It's fine to model your business on large corps. but be honest with us small guys. if you don't care about us, be honest and tell us, so we can go look elsewhere and stop trying to make a difference with you.

I'm going to keep using MM2012, as i like it very much, it does what i want, and i've invested time learning it. But i won't be buying one of the current MJ subs. Make the offering and pricing more realistic, and i might. make the software significantly better (Process maps anyone?) and more reliable and i might. but failing those 2 things, When i come to retire mm2012, i'll be going to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_... and evaluating all the options thoroughly

Finally, I'm giving a talk on productivity to a local group soon. although i will be showing MM, I'l be suggesting the check out freemind and xmind. So also i don't think i'll be recommending MM to others anytime soon.

While i am certainly a satisfied customer for MM2012, Currently i feel very far from from being a mindjet customer evangelist.
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John

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oh, and yes, thee most DEFINITELY should be a perpetual desktop license option
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K.C. Flynn

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I hate this knew, lesser featured product and pricing approach. I was an early adapter to MindMap and I will be looking for a compeitive product.
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Chris Journal

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Been using MM for nine years - have religiously updated and invested in keeping current. Became totally confused with different product names, features and add ons. Have now paid for subscription model but don't like it. Would like to keep desktop copy of all maps and have them sync automatically to the cloud. Right now, I cannot find out how to move all my MM Connect (free) files into my new MM Web (subscription) account without laboriously opening each one and saving a new copy - which will lead to lots of confusion!
Mindjet (I think that's the official company name???) needs to rethink its file management - Dropbox, Box, Evernote, Egnyte are good role models.
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Brittney Mazzetta

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This is a great conversation that's separate from the main topic, so I created a new topic to continue the discussion. Please reference the new topic here: File Management: Mindjet Connect Free to Mindjet web
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Eric Meyer

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I strongly considered using Mindjet for my office but decided to go with a competitor's product primarily because of the subscription model. It's rubbish.
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William Collins

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I too signed up for the trial, and while it seems to be a great product, the over-priced subscription model coupled with no perpetual license for the desktop model has me looking elsewhere. MJ, PLEASE reconsider your pricing model.
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Hayden

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I think MJ really needs to ask the question, "Are we Leaders or Followers??"

Closely followed by "Is "The Cloud" the new and useful thing, or is it just Mainframe Computing with a new dress on?"

I firmly believe it's just mainframe with a new dress. It's a return to 1984 and IBM System 3. it's Centralised processing power with dumb terminals- just a screen and a keyboard. It's power in the hands of the provider, not the user. When surfing, not every wave is worth catching. I think this is the case with CloudEverything...

Surely a business must make a profit and a regular one at that. But doing so by attempting to force your clients to become hooked on your product? Prehaps MJ should get into the business of dealing Heroine? It might be more ethical.....

This post below made in another thread:

God save me from another software maker who wants to keep putting their hand in my pocket!

I am a Commerce student at the largest university in New Zealand, I engaged with Mind Manager late 2012, to complete a final year research project. I love it! I sang it's praises from upon high, it's quite possible the Business School and Center for Academic development would have purchased the product, based on what I said. But now, well, now I'm not so sure. I could have seen it being useful into the future, I would have kept in my "toolbox" and brought it out when it was appropriate and useful, but I don't want to keep paying for a tool just for the privilege of keeping it in my tool box, or to show to others and tell them to keep it in their tool box too.

To add insult to injury, you just forced this on me. I brought one version, then the next followed it almost straight away, and then you roll out the subscription model... like "TA DA! HERE'S THE FLASHEST NEWEST SHINY THING... IT'S GREAT.... YOU'LL LOVE IT! WHAT, ON NO, YOU DON'T GET A CHOICE.. YOU GET THIS! LOVE IT... OR F OFF 'N DIE"

Mindjet, You have missed the mark here, considerably. I was a convert, now I'm just disappointed and limp....
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Brittney Mazzetta

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Hi Hayden. Thank you for your feedback. We do have academic pricing available for both Mindjet and Mindjet 11 for Windows. Please contact your local reseller to obtain pricing.
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Arun Pingaley

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I too am quite disappointed with the now, "No Desktop" option! I have been using Mindjet on my iMac at home and also on my iPad. It took some getting used to, but I was able to finally adapt very well to the ipad version. I alweays used cloud storage on Dropbox, so all was well. Until today, when I finally thought I should buy the Windows version too, so that I could use it on my other laptop as well. Well, to say the least, I was shocked that there is no desktop option anymore !

I don't compare the Mindmap software to Microsoft Office, for the former is a niche software and the latter is pretty much ubiquitous. But, I just dont understand the need for "subscription only" forced down our throats, when there was a need and demand for a perpetual desktop license option.

Does MJ realise there is a user base that also needs a voice here - after all we paid the dollars that made your company. It is one thing to change the UI or UX, and one can argue, that the changes are being made to move to new UI paradigms, but not offering a choice in licensing which was always available and your customers are used to, is frankly, not thinking for your customers and a little premature for MJ. Premature because, while I hate to move to another mindmap software, I will do it, for I dont like my arm being forced. So, while MJ is my preferred choice, I still will like to move on now.

I dont like the decision, but I dont like making an annual subscription either.
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Brittney Mazzetta

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Thank you for your feedback. Please contact your local reseller for various pricing options that are available to you. They may have different options or promotions available that might suit your needs. Thanks!
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mdalves

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Microsoft has just announced Office 365 in my country and, as an user of both Microsoft and Mindjet products, I am comparing their pricing strategy.
* Office 365 Home Premium is offered for US$90/year and includes: Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Onenote, Outlook, Publisher, Access, additional 20Gb in Skydrive and 60 minutes/month of international calls using Skype. Licensed for 5 computers (Windows or Mac).
* Mindjet for individuals is offered for US$180/year and includes, well, just a single license of Mindjet.
Conclusions: 1. Mindjet strategists are crazy. 2. I'll keep my Mindmanager 12 as long as I can.
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Ary Velstra, Expert Trainer

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Your comparison is not true. I suggest to be sure you keep your facts correct. If you base all your decisions on this kind of judgement, you will be in trouble soon ;-)
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John

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I've done the same comparison in UK, and it seems very accurae. ARY, Can you expand on what is inaccurate? It'd be good to know if we are missing something in our research
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Ary Velstra, Expert Trainer

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Mindjet for individuals includes: Desktop for Windows, Desktop for Mac, Mobile apps, and a webfacility to use your maps on all platforms. That's the facts.

I do agree that mindjet could have communicated the changes better to their market and long term users. But it has been 6 months now and we have lost no customers on pricing.

Anyone who does the calculations will see that this offering is very cost-effective if you compare it with buying a perpetual lciense and buy upgrades, If you buy yearly MSA the comparison is still valid over a period of 5 year.
But feel free to do what you want.
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Microsoft's offering is also cross-platform (ie, you can install on a Mac or a PC) and I should have included the web apps for completeness in my post (see below), but even making allowances for those features Microsoft's offering is still much better value in dollar terms than Mindjet's, which was mdalves' point.
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Alex Gooding, Champion

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Well, here are some links comparing Mindjet's and Microsoft's US subscription pricing, taken from their respective websites and both accessed on 11 March 2013.

First, Mindjet's subscriptions for individuals, business and the web, as well as the discounts for current MJ customers (all for one user each):

http://www.mindjet.com/shop-now?lang=en

Now Microsoft's home subscription for five PCs:

http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/buy/

And Microsoft's business subscription for one user:

http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/bus...

In summary (all US prices):

For individual/home users:

MJ offer a single install of one desktop program, task management and 2GB storage, for a cost of $180 per year. If you are an existing user the price comes down to $90 for the first year (then back up to $180), or $390 for three years, an average of $130 a year per user.

MS offer seven desktop programs (four on the Mac), 20GB SkyDrive storage and 60 minutes of Skype calls per month, for a cost of $100 per year. Furthermore up to five machines can be installed, so the cost can be as low as $20 per home user.

For business users:

MJ offer a single install of one desktop program, full team collaboration and 5GB storage for $360 a year per user, with a one-year discount to $270 for existing users.

MS offer a single install of seven desktop programs (four on the Mac), plus Lync, a collaboratrion platform and a 25GB mailbox for each user at a cost of $150 per user.

I think on the basis of the documented offerings of both companies, mdalves' argument about their relative value is substantially correct, even allowing for the discount MJ offers for existing users which he didn't include.
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mdalves

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I was going to upload some screenshots of our local Microsoft website but your post is clear enough.
I don ́t like the subscription model but Microsoft ́s offer did call my attention, considering the three computers we use at home (2 Windows, 1 Mac). I will give it a try.
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Alex Gooding, Champion

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Yes - I thought of putting in the screenshots but decided that the links communicated the message anyway. I'm also tempted to give the home subscription of MS a try, though like you I don't like being locked into a subscription model with either product.

Apart from the costs involved, one of my concerns with subscriptions for these or any products is the way users have no control over the discontinuation of features they have come to rely on. With perpetual licenses you can at least delay upgrading or not upgrade at all if a feature has been dropped; however, with a subscription you have no choice if you want to continue using the product.

This is bad enough when the product is upgraded annually but it becomes a nightmare when incremental upgrades are rolled out on a continual basis. It is a particular concern with Mindjet because the history of MindManager/Mindjet upgrades is littered with examples of features that were included in an upgrade only to be arbitrarily discontinued or dumbed down in future releases (JCV Gantt, Marker Index, how task duration is handled, to name a few).

There is also the problem that from time to time upgrades inadvertently introduce bugs. With perpetual licences the user community can often alert other users who can choose to avoid the upgrade until the problem is rectified, but there is much less leeway with the subscription model, especially if the upgrade occurs at the same time the subscription runs out; you have to upgrade or lose the ability to use the product at all.

People also forget that the last time Microsoft trialled a subscription model in Australia (and possibly elsewhere) in 2001, it was a spectacular failure. Customers bought the subscription version because it was cheap. However, many either didn't understand the nature of what they were buying or had forgotten about it by the time the annual subscription was up and the product stopped working.

There was so much confusion and uproar that in the end Microsoft was forced to offer perpetual licences to all subscription holders at no extra cost. This was to my organisation's benefit at the time; we had bought 10 copies of the subscription, fully understanding what we were buying but when MS backed down under consumer pressure we were the happy recipients of ten full licences.

There is a lesson for Mindjet (and Microsoft) in that experience.
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mdalves

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This is a very interesting discussion but I feel it will not influence Mindjet decisions and strategy in any away.
I just compared Mindjet pricind with Microsoft offer because money is a limited resource and, at any point in time, one has to decide what to keep and what to leave behind.
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Brittney Mazzetta

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Thank you all for your feedback. We really appreciate it.
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Hayden

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Hello All,

Just to add to my previous message in here, I can now confirm that Professor who encouraged me to engage with Mindjet at my university has not upgraded their old (Ver 8/9?) as a result of the subscription model. They were going to upgrade to 2012, but the new model arrived before they did. This person is very influential in the Business School, being in the area of Innovation/Entrepreneurship and new learning methods/tools and the feeling I get is they will not be engaging with Mindjet in the future if the subscription model persists.
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Valerie Jones-Harvey, Official Rep

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Hi Hayden,

Academic customers are treated differently and have different options available to them. Please contact a rep in your area to learn more about your options.
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John

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I have seen in this thread at least 3 people from academic institutions saying they wont upgrade because of the pricing, each replied to by a Mindjet rep. I feel this supports customers concerns about clarity of information available from Mindjet. MS for example has a clear section on their products for academic pricing and i don't understand why MJ can't do the same and make it really clear?
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Hayden

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Hi Val,

Is what your saying is they don't have to engage with the subscription model?
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Alex Gooding, Champion

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I'd be interested in MJ's response to that.

At least Microsoft is offering all its customers a perpetual licence option as well as a subscription, even if there is a bit of "carrot and stick" in that the subscription offers better value, at least initially.
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Valerie Jones-Harvey, Official Rep

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Please contact us to learn more about the options available to Academic customers http://www.mindjet.com/about/contact/
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Alex Gooding, Champion

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Thanks. However what people are concerned about here is the lack of transparency around Mindjet's academic and business pricing, compared to Microsoft's approach - for example, http://office.microsoft.com/en-au/uni...

The seeming inability to provide a direct answer to Hayden's simple and specific question about whether academic customers have a perpetual licence option not available to other customers is an example of this.

Nonetheless I'm happy to contact Microsoft as you keep suggesting, but I'm curious - will I be given the information as a non-academic customer and would there be any objection to me posting the response here?
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Hayden

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I'm not concerned about the lack of transparency in the pricing, if MJ wants to pursue private prices for Academics, then that is alright by me. My concern is the paradigm shift from Perpetual licencing.

I think MS is being used as a yard stick due to their ubiquity (and as the often kicked muchlovehated-dog). Academic Pricing for MS products has always been considerably less and quite free available at the academic price.

The concern still remains, for me at least, there is a lack of choice from the Subscription model.

As previously posted, if one upgrades to the new version, one must always pay for it in order for it to actually operate. With the kind of product MM is, your users are surely your biggest champions and promoters. I can't show your product off, because it is turned off because I didn't pay the subscription this month, because I didn't have a project that needed it directly. Therefore I can't convince anyone else it's worth it, or to engage with the methodology.

Lets be clear, I am not usually a visual picture drawing person, I'm a words person, but MM makes it easy to work in pictures, and so makes dealing with lots of words easy too. Viz, MM has converted me to the methodology of Mind Mapping, because it makes it easy. But if I want to convince someone else under the new Subscription Model, I have to pay to make a sale for MJ.... Something doesn't quite add up there... nope, not at all....
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Alex Gooding, Champion

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Hi Hayden,

Actually my point in asking for greater transparency regarding academic pricing is not so much in relation to the pricing levels (though I think these too should be available) but rather to get a specific answer to the same question you asked - do academic users have access to non-subscription models - ie, perpetual licences?

That appears to be the implication of Mindjet's response to you, which I wanted to follow up. And if there are perpetual licence options for academics (however high or low the price is) why aren't similar options available to the rest of us?
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Graham Parrington

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I tried the free version, and found it useful for work. I then got the paid subscription because I needed to access my work on MM for a few more months, not realizing I could not cancel at any time. Now I'm stuck paying for a program that I don't need or use, and am hoping I can find a use for it. Definitely not worth it, in my opinion for the individual user.
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mdalves

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It ́s a one year commitment, even if you choose monthly payment. When you want to cancel you have to send Mindjet a cancelation notice 30 days prior (information from a Mindjet sales representative, did not find it anywhere at Mindjet website).
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Alex Gooding, Champion

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It's interesting that while Mindjet are not particularly forthcoming in these forums about academic pricing or licencing arrangements, some of their resellers are.

A search or two on Google will reveal a range of prices and licence options specifically for academic users, particularly on UK sites.

For example this reseller has what appear to be perpetual licence options for academic users at just under £48, compared to £134 for a standard subscription and £68 for a subscription for existing users: http://www.qbssoftware.com/products/M....

The academic subscription is a little cheaper at £44.The same outlet also has non-academic perpetual licences available but they will set you back over £297 (or £210 each if you are a Government user and take five licences).

The point here is not so much the differences in prices but the fact that perpetual licences appear to be widely available only for certain groups of users and not others.
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Ian Perry

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Has a reason been offered from Mindjet yet as to why Academic/Government can still purchase perpetual licences but us mere mortals can not???

I'd be really interested to hear the thinking behind that as I am sure many other forum readers would.
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K.C. Flynn

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Because Mindjet is arrogant and doesn't care about customers?
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Valerie Jones-Harvey, Official Rep

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Thanks to everyone for your passionate feedback. We understand that some continue to be frustrated by the our pricing structure. As noted here, many companies provide separate pricing for various verticals. Our government and academic customers have always had separate options. As we progress, we will continue to explore other pricing options.

Once again, your feedback is very much appreciated
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Ian Perry

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Hi Valerie,

Thats all well and good and I think we, (your customers), understand that however you have just kind of side-stepped the actual question to be honest.

Perhaps you could provide the actual specific reason(s) that perpetual license options are available to academic/government and not to other "everyday" users?

Surely if the subscription model is such a "great deal" then academic and government do not need a perpetual option...likewise if the academic and government customers need perpetual for a specific reason then I am sure that "everyday" users would also have those reasons too.....

I am sure a more detailed answer would help us understand your stance on this much better and may stem some of the "passionate" feedback which is basically not passion but anger, disappointment and mistrust...
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Alex Gooding, Champion

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Hi Valerie,

I second Ian's comments on this, which is why a brought this issue up in the first place.

And yes, as I noted the issue isn't about establishing pricing differentials for different markets, which as you point out is common practice. What is virtually unique to Mindjet is discrimination between markets based on licensing models.

Microsoft for example have different deals for their academic and government markets, but the point is they still offer perpetual licensing across their entire range. Not everyone likes their "carrot and stick" approach but at least their customers still have a choice.

Mindjet should consider taking a leaf out of their book - offer a perpetual licence at the price points that applied to MM12 and discount the subscription price to say $90 annually. That way you would have a lot more customers for both versions.
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Valerie Jones-Harvey, Official Rep

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I’m sorry. Company policy prohibits me from providing a more detailed public explanation of pricing strategy.
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Alex Gooding, Champion

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Then we are forced to draw our own conclusions.
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Alex Gooding, Champion

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Hi Valerie,

With great respect and to expand on my earlier reply, the more I reflect on your response, the stranger I find it to be.

You appear to be claiming that the pricing (and be extension I presume, differential licensing) strategy itself is not confidential - which I would agree would be pointless anyway, now that several resellers have let the cat out of the bag by publishing it - but Mindjet's explanation of this strategy is.

Now I'm intrigued - what is there to hide? The damage has already been done - Mindjet have taken a very public and obviously quite controversial decision about licensing, which its resellers have now revealed is being applied to only part of its customer base.

Most companies in this situation would at least be able to offer some sort of explanation, plausible or otherwise, for their actions. Not, it seems, Mindjet.