UPDATE: See an update to this post here.
As I noted, I’ve been on vacation in the last week, so this topic has been pretty widely noted in the blogosphere already, but for the record, the popular blog publishing software Movable Type, from Six Apart, has released a new pricing plan for the new 3.0 version of its software.
I’m not going to get into this in detail for a few reasons, including A) it’s past midnight and I have to get up early tomorrow, B) I’m so frazzled from too much vacation and too many project deadlines that I haven’t really thought hard about this yet, and C) there are indications that Six Apart is about to revise the pricing policy (see below).
In summary, however, suffice to say many bloggers have expressed their annoyance at the pricing policy. To oversimplify, the new pricing now costs a flat licensing fee of $100-190 for personal weblogs and $300-700 for business blogs. The price ranges have to do with how many blogs you are publishing and how many blog authors are using a single license of the software. The prices include “introductory” discounts, though it’s not clear to me how long that introductory price applies.
These prices compare to free for personal licenses and $150 for business licences for the prior version of the software.
In no small part, the criticism Six Apart has received for the new pricing scheme stems from the fact that the new 3.0 version did not introduce many new features, but rather it concentrated on scalability and openness for developers, which are not benefits that most users will readily appreciate.
My own high-level reaction to the changes are that I feel Six Apart made a mistake in not adequately testing user sensitivity to the pricing (surprising of them to get caught so unawares by the potential for bad PR from bloggers, who do nothing if not express their minds), and they also made the pricing scheme unnecessarily complicated. That and they probably also did over-price to an extent. Compared, for example, to TypePad, Movable Type does seem too expensive.
That said, I personally believe the value of the software is worth paying for. My experience of blog publishing platforms is limited to Blogger, TypePad and Movable Type, but all in all, I have found Movable Type to be a great tool, which I do recommend to clients. As a personal publishing tool, it’s still really not so expensive at under $200. For personal purposes, I consider blogging a hobby, and as hobbies go, it’s an extremely cheap one (compared, for example, to my other hobbies of bicycling, photography, cooking and others, on which I have spent a lot more than $200). If you’re too cheap for even that, use Blogger or any of the number of other blog publishing tools that are cheaper or free. For businesses, $300-700 is inexpensive for a fairly powerful content management tool.
The biggest risk of the new pricing is that Six Apart risks killing the goose that laid the golden egg. As good as the software itself is, what makes it really great is the extensive support and developer communities for it. If this new pricing proves to alienate much of that critical group of users (and some outspoken folks have already made a show of quitting MT), then indeed something very valuable about this platform could be lost in this new upgrade.
As I said above, however, there is reason to believe Six Apart is rethinking its pricing strategy in light of the criticism — notably, because Mena Trott, the company’s president, has said as much. So stay tuned.
Meanwhile, to catch up on what everyone else has said about this, take a look at the trackback comments on Mena’s earlier post about the new pricing policy. Also of interest may be this 40-minute audio interview with Six Apart founders Mena and Ben Trott (I haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet myself).
Finally, I also came across this thorough review of the new features of MT 3.0 by Neil Turner.
Six Apart: Movable Type Personal License Options