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Notability blinks on charging users more, grandfathers in existing users

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The developer of the note-taking app received backlash after trying to push paid users into subscriptions next year

Image: Notability Blog

Notability developer Ginger Labs announced today that, in a change of heart, its popular note-taking app wouldn’t eventually require current users to switch to a subscription model. This news comes just two days after the developer announced a new subscription model where current app owners who wanted to keep the same features would be forced to start a $14.99 / year subscription (discounted to $11.99 for a limited time) by November 1st, 2022.

Notability rolled back its original Monday pricing announcement and today posted an update on its company blog addressing current customers:

Everyone who purchased Notability prior to our switch to subscription on November 1st, 2021 will have lifetime access to all existing features and any content previously purchased in the app.

This means that current paid users will not have to pay for the new subscription plan after updating to the new 11.0 version. They also get to retain features that new free-tier users won’t have access to, including iCloud sync, unlimited editing, and features purchased in the Notability shop.

Notability subscription tiers as of November 1st, 2021
Image: Notability

These swift changes come after backlash from many long-time users sharing their disdain for the new subscription model. While the company acknowledged its mistake and profusely apologized to its customers in its blog, the reason may be less than genuine. According to 9to5Mac, the change may be due to a violation of Apple’s App Store guidelines. In the App Store review guidelines, a clause in section 3.1.2(a) explains that current paid customers must retain all functionality of the app that they paid for.

Note-taking app developers changing around pricing is nothing new, and Evernote is a great example of a popular app that recently complicated its subscription models. Evernote and Notability going subscription may mean more revenue. However, it also puts existing customers in a precarious situation where they may decide to migrate elsewhere. At least one other developer today may be taking advantage of Notability’s slip-up, with GoodNotes 5 now discounted to $3.99 from $7.99.

Correction November 4th, 8:30am: Notability’s new subscription costs $14.99 per year. This article originally stated that it cost $14.99 per month. We regret the error.