Tech Notes: The Digital Subscription Model Part 1

Happy (Almost) Fall Seabrookers!

It’s been quite a while since I last wrote a column for Tidelines. Of course, the world has changed quite a bit in the past six months. I hope everyone is continuing to stay safe and healthy as we leave the hot, humid weather behind us.

As I pondered on topics to write about, my mind kept going to the topic of “recurring costs” for the upkeep of our digital lives. What do I mean by this?

With each passing year, our lives become more intertwined with the digital world. I’ve now been in the tech industry long enough to see the evolution first hand, and I often compare and contrast the effects technology has had on our everyday lives. As a teenager, I grew to love computers through the “Windows” era, where Microsoft became such a dominant force in the industry. Then I got my feet wet in an occupation just before Apple came along and changed the game with their iPhone and iPad devices. And along the way, tech companies like Google, MySpace, Facebook, Amazon, YouTube, Twitter, and Uber all made their impressions on us. And in 2020, was there any more well-known tech company who shot their way to the top quicker than Zoom? When a tech company becomes a verb (Who hasn’t ZOOMED yet???), that’s when you know you’re a big deal.

I say all of that to say this: technology (and the conveniences it provides) has allowed us to take advantage of services and products we like. With the click of a button, we can have food delivered to our doorstep, music delivered to our home speakers, or printer ink and razor blades delivered in our mailboxes. These companies often take advantage of the “subscription-based” models of doing business by offering you the ability to sign up, provide your billing information, and “Let us do all the work.”

In my opinion, there are several subscription-based products and services I recommend signing up for to make life easier and more convenient. These things often can take the frequent, mundane tasks and responsibilities that typically fall on our shoulders, and put them on someone else’s plate.

In this next series of articles, I’d like to give you my recommendations for products and services you should be paying for (either annually or monthly) and what the advantages are. Sort of like “Chad’s Top 10 Tech Things You Should Gladly Pay For.” I’ll focus on the most important things, as well as the items and services that provide the best value.

I’ll start off with everyone’s favorite company – Apple.

Apple iCloud
(From .99 cents / month to $10/month)
Importance (1-10 Scale) – 10
Value (1-10 Scale) – 10

If you have an Apple product, there’s very little reason why you shouldn’t be paying for iCloud space. It’s so ridiculously cheap, and the benefits are plentiful.

Apple gives everyone a free 5GB of Cloud Space, but if you are even the least bit interested in taking photos, you will fill up that free 5GB very fast.

Why is Cloud Space important? For a variety of reasons!

  •  Your information (contacts, calendar, photos, text messages, apps) are backed up to the cloud for safekeeping. If you lose your device, or if your device gets damaged, you can rest assured that all of your information is safe and sound. Think of it like your own virtual private storage unit. When you replace an old and outdated Apple device, transferring your information from the old device to the new device is a breeze.
  • If you own more than one Apple device (iPhone, iPad, Macbook, iMac) don’t you want information from one device to sync perfectly with the rest of your devices? YES! This happens through the power of iCloud. Without turning on the iCloud option, each of your devices stores its information separately from the rest. That means, photos don’t transfer from one device to the other, mismatched contact lists, and overall a lot of disorganization.

NOTE:  While we’re speaking about the iCloud, now is a great time to check to see if your devices are being backed up. On your iPhone or iPad, go into Settings >> Press your Name >> press iCloud, scroll down to Backup >> Make sure it says ON (Green) and look to see when the last successful backup took place. Hopefully, it should be within the last few days.

Each person should have their own iCloud account if they want their data to be separate from someone else (say a spouse). And with the first paid iCloud storage plan costing 99 cents per month for 50GB of Cloud Data, that will generally last you a long time. A person who takes lots of photos might opt for the $3/month 200GB plan.

Amazon Prime
($120/year or $9/month)
Importance (1-10 Scale) – 6
Value (1-10 Scale) – 8

We all understand Amazon’s footprint on our lives. With the conveniences of being able to order items online, many of us are willing to pay extra for 1 or 2-day delivery. Think of Prime like a Costco membership. We pay extra and expect to receive above-average service for that fee we pay.

Yes, COVID has affected Amazon greatly in availability and timeliness of scheduled deliveries, but in this socially-distanced world that we live in right now, how great that we can open the Amazon app, order our necessities (look for the Prime logo next to each eligible product), and have them delivered right to our doorstep.

Will the cost of a Prime membership increase in the future? Most likely yes, but it’s still a service that I find most people will still keep paying for as long as deliveries are timely and accurate.

Stay tuned next time, as I review two more products and services that you should gladly be paying for.

-Chad Droze, Guest Columnist
Post & Computer Center – Freshfields Village

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