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SmartSDR - Annual Costs - ????

Ok. This is getting ridiculous.  

$200 a year to keep my radio current?

Of course it is "optional" until it is not optional. 

I have been in IT for 30 years. I have seen this model before, and it did not play out  well for the companies that did it. In the end, they either went under, went to a subscription model, or gave out the software for free.

Why don't you switch to a service model where you charge something like $5 a month or $60 a year. This service can include the remote services, support,  updates, etc.

You will find that most of the owners will go for this model over paying out $200 every year or so for "optional" updates.

The problem with optional updates is that it will introduce security issues to the v2 models since they are internet facing and lets be honest, you are not microsoft and keep legacy systems patches going for years after a release.

The other issue is that the resale value of the radio drops by $200 the minute a new version comes out.  Right now for new flex people, an icom 7300 ( yes, I know it is not a fair comparison but it is a choice people make) NEW costs around $1100.  A flex 6300 costs around $1200 used. Once 3.0 is out, the flex is now worth $1000 at best unless it has ver 3.0 installed.

A newbie to SDR will look at the self contained Icom for $1000 - $1100 NEW and they simply drop it in, or do they want to get a flex and have the learning curve?   This is a conversation that is taking place on the nets right now and most people lean toward the IC7300 since it is good enough and they do not have to pay for updates.

I love my flexradio, but you need to re-evaluate your software model, it will have long term impact on your products.  


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Answers

  • paulpaul Member ✭✭
    edited March 2019
    I have a 5000A I bought 15 years ago using v2.7.2. It helped me get DXCC #141 on 2m. Works fine and does everything I expect it to do. I also have a 6500 running 1.11.12 a 6600 and two 6300 using 2.49 only because I use them remotely. I see no reason to use another version unless something strikes me and then I may only change version on one of them. Nice thing is I do not have to "upgrade" it is my choice. Try not paying a HULU subscription and see what happens.  paul, wa3qpx
  • Mark WS7MMark WS7M Member ✭✭
    edited March 2019
    I been in IT for 40 years.  I've seen all the models and quite frankly the companies that went under where the ones that gave it away for free.

    I think Bill said it best above.   There is no annual cost.  If you are happy with the radio and the features then you are good to good with the radio until you are done with it.

    If you want new features, prepare to pay.  Try getting a feature update to an Icom 7300.  The 7610 is currently going through bug fix and minor feature releases.  Once those are done I suspect that radio will be in the same position.  The feature set will be locked.
  • spopielaspopiela Member
    edited July 2019
    I somewhat agree with the original post. Quicken changed their software business model because people would go for years without any of the yearly updates. There was little yearly functional update so users didn’t want to waste money.Their software also started getting long in the tooth and having performance issues. They changed to a subscription model after change in ownership and everything has improved. I think the new business model pays for improvements. The difference between a quicken example and flex is that there is a strong tie to hardware... I’m not talking about the computer but rather the radio. As time moves on and a radio hits it’s technology plateau, the associated software will have to plateau. Software Upgrades then have to stop To that software baseline. As computers evolved Windows OS had to change. I have first geration 6500 and upgraded software one time. Unless there is a major upgrade to hardware , I’ll be sticking with the current radio and pay for updates. Probably will be many years of updates. Stan
  • edited March 2019
    I do not work in IT, I love my Flex,s I own 3 now. What I do not like as a non IT guy is having to buy a new version and then working through all the little bugs or updates. When It gets stable its time for a new version and it all starts over again. 

    I work from home, my shack is also my office so I switched from my Icom 756 Pro III because of desk real-estate. I like to run multiple monitors and the Icom was just to big. The Flex I think for me is a lot better option, I love the receiver in my Flex for many reasons. For me and these problems are special to me I had a small **** a few years ago so learning new stuff really takes me awhile and confusing. 

    As far as the upgrades I do not mind paying for them, I like to support American companies for me its the question of what new problems I will have with a updated software package. 

    I my self will continue to support Flex what ever way they go but if I had a choice I would go with some kind of subscription where it included updates and HUMAN tech support, now that would be worth something to me. 
  • edited June 2019
    Gentlemen, I see this from the same perspective. Even worse I have a 6300 and a 6700. I had a bad experience at the Huntsville, Al Hamfest two years ago concerning purchasing upgrade software. He told me in no certain terms that I would buy software to get bug fixes. I bought V2 on March 5 , 2018. I sent an email asking if cost would be incurred in under a year of release. There was no reply. Only one copy ... well I found out my 6700 had to have its own copy. $400/year is high price to pay for buggy software. Some good software writer could do well 3000 users X $200 bux. Flex please help those Hams that put you where you are. K5WHB
  • edited March 2019
    A major update every year ( along with bugfixes/etc) is a little unreasonable. 

    Flex is trying to adopt a software model that has been proven to not to work.  What happens is that it fragments the userbase and causes long term dissatisfaction with their user base since it is impossible to a hardware/software company to maintain several version lines of software for the same hardware.  

    What ends up happening if a competitor does not end up buying the company out, is that the company switches to a software subscription model or they charge for value-added services and give away the firmware for free.

    A perfect example of this is Apple OSX.  Apple used to charge the full price of their OS for each major release. What happened was a significant number of their userbase did not upgrade unless they had to. This caused support issues for Apple and eventually caused dissatisfaction. Microsoft also used to use this model.

    Apple's next step was to capitalize the cost of the operating system in the original hardware purchase and then charge a nominal ( $20 ) fee for each new major version of the OS.  What they found was that people still would not upgrade.  Then Microsoft switched to model where the the OS is capitalized in the initial OEM purchase and then is free for the life of the product.  

    Currently, both Apple and Microsoft offers all upgrades to their operating systems for free. This has allowed users to migrate to the more current versions of the OS and in the long run lowers support costs for these companies.

    Flex can easily justify a subscription model to use their remote access features of the radio. A small fee like $5 a month, or $60 a year would generate more ongoing revenue than relying on the hope that a specific number of people will adopt a $200 fee to get major release.

     
  • paulpaul Member ✭✭
    edited March 2019
    I bought  a 6600 because it has two  SCU's and is much less expensive than 6700. I now run a transverter and 6m at the same time on one radio freeing up one of the 6300's
  • roger na4rrroger na4rr Member
    edited March 2019
    I think selling bug fixes is the plan to stay in business. 

  • KF4HRKF4HR Member ✭✭
    edited March 2019
    It would be nice, but to the best of my knowledge FRS has never put out a major (i.e., $199) software version every year.  I have owned my Flex-6700 since 2015 and have only paid for one software upgrade (V2.x) 

    While there are several free minor changes that occur within each major software update, the $199 updates tend to be centered around (mostly) one major feature.  For V2.x is was the Remote Control feature and for V3.x it's the Multi-Client feature.  It's a fairly safe bet that the newest software features may, or may not be wanted or needed by some, so why force everyone to pay for them? 

    The same goes for resale value.  Some buyers may want the latest software features, while others may not, so resale prices will vary based on wants and needs.  And of course the used buyer always has the option to wait for the next sequential major software update and catch up with all the previous versions with one $199 purchase.

    Personally I like the way FRS has structured their software update process.  It's Flexible! (pun intended)

     
  • edited March 2019
    There are fixes that need be released prior VX.xx upgrade. True, I don't give a hoot about Multi-client ... there are many fixes that need be incorporated in V2.xx ; before giving up and do another release$$$.  On another note: Loyalty is penalized. DX'ers and others own multiple Flexes. Each unit has to give $200 per radio to keep up. I only have 2 units at initial cost of $10,000. I have friends with 5 or more. This is just not right.
    :example, when doing DX and switching bands you loose the frequency you were on on the other band, thus causing lost contacts.
  • Bill -VA3WTBBill -VA3WTB Member ✭✭✭
    edited March 2019
    Again, a new main version does not come out every year as has been stated above.

    As said before, this has been working very good for Flex,,why change things, forcing people to pay $5.00 a month instead of a voluntary fee, nope.

    One good thing about how Flex does this is that it forces them to come up with features that will sell.

    How much do you guys think the price would be if Flex charged for the full price of the software to the customer? As Apple used to. Around $800.00 per version?

    Gerald said that the $200.00 hardly even offset the real cost of development. They need to sell hardware to keep floating.
  • Michael CosloMichael Coslo Member
    edited March 2019
    If a person is willing to put up with the toylike performance of an Icom IC-7300, they aren't in the market for a Flex. After using one for field day last year, the front end is a RF funnel. I was on 6 meters, hearing every other station we were using they were on 40 and 20 meters. A cute radio, but a bit of a not ready for prime time clunker. We have an Icom IC-7610 for our club. I'd sooner use a 6300 rather than that as well.  It's Okay, but still could use some work. 

    But the issue of updates. Unlike the subscription method, no one is forced to get them. My 6300 (now ex-6300) would operate well on the software it originally came with. Remoting it would be more involved, but I could still do it easily. 

    And under a subscription method, once you stopped paying, would the radio still work? Check out Office 365 or Adobe Creative Suite. Once you buy in, you are locked in. 
  • paulpaul Member ✭✭
    edited March 2019

    Have  you tried  putting  different  bands in different slices?  With 6600 you can  have  4 slices and have  a selection of two different antennas gl
  • Bill -VA3WTBBill -VA3WTB Member ✭✭✭
    edited March 2019
    A multi unit DX station stands to save many thousands of dollors because of using Flex and multi client features. Two people per radio, two radios per GPXL amp.

    Instead of a radio per operator, and multible amps,,think of the cost. It seems unlikely DX stations will cry over version upgrade cost.

    Other than an upgrade to ANF and NB and the record and playback, I can't think of really anything that needs fixing.
  • Bill -VA3WTBBill -VA3WTB Member ✭✭✭
    edited March 2019
    :example, when doing DX and switching bands you loose the frequency you were on on the other band, thus causing lost contacts.

    Why would you lose anything?
  • Jerry  WA9UKBJerry WA9UKB Member ✭✭
    edited June 2019
    I have stayed with version 1 and will not upgrade due to earlier bug fixes not being done and being also lowballed on a upgrade trade in value of a 6500 at $199.00 back Dec So an upgrade would not be an option as the apparent decline in the market value of the 6500.
  • Ken HansenKen Hansen Member ✭✭
    edited March 2019
    Wow, so many apples-to-oranges comparisons! First you compare a brand-new Radio with a discontinued model only available as used/refurbished. Next, the iC-7300 is a $1,000 Radio, the 6300 was, and it's replacement is, a $2,000 Radio. The IC-7300 is a 3 year-old radio, and it's feature set has not expanded in any significant way since introduction, the Flex by comparison is longer in the tooth yet it's feature set expands year after year for a nominal price. If the day ever comes where Icom sees fit to upgrade the IC-7300, it would most likely be a so-called 'forklift upgrade' where the owner has to replace their radio, the flex owner likely pays a nominal fee and the value of their investment holds. If I bought a 6300 at $1300 and an IC-7300 for $1100, in six months, when I go so sell each radio, even in your worst-case scenario, the flex would sell just north of $1,000, the IC-7300 would sell for well-under $1,000, maybe around $800 - I see greater value in the Flex, even after ring 'forced' to pay for (feature-adding) upgrades.
  • Bill -VA3WTBBill -VA3WTB Member ✭✭✭
    edited March 2019
    roger, maintenance releases have always been free.
  • MackMack Member ✭✭
    edited March 2019
    Flex has already announced there will be a 2.5 release at no cost to current 2.4.9 users. At least state facts correctly.

    Mack
    W4AX
    Alpha Team
  • Gene DupreyGene Duprey Member ✭✭
    edited December 2019
    I bought my CPO 6500 & Maestro A back in December, and love it.  I'm not sure I will use the Multi feature, but it does intrigue me, so I may at least try it.  While I will get V3.o free, I do not see $200 for major upgrades as too much. My biggest wants are for the NF, WNB &NB to work right.  These should be a priority as Contesters and DX'ers need them just as much as the casual operators.  I also work Contests and chase DX.  I just finished the ARRL DX SSB contest, (Worked everyone I could hear) and I had an issue with strong adjacent signals causing pumping.  A quick check on this forum and found out it was the NB causing this.  Turned off the NB and everything was great.

    If these were fixed then the radio would be just about perfect for me.  Although I do look forward to new features.

    Gene, K1GD
  • Jerry  WA9UKBJerry WA9UKB Member ✭✭
    edited June 2019
    Bug fixes was what I hoped for in version 1. When 2 came out their were no more bug fixes for anyone that didn’t upgrade.
  • KC2QMA_JohnKC2QMA_John Member ✭✭
    edited June 2019

    The most important thing to remember is updates are optional and you can even wait and skip versions and it still only cost $200 to upgrade./update.

    If version 3 doesn't have anything I want/need I will just wait for version 4 and see if that version has what I want.

  • Bill -VA3WTBBill -VA3WTB Member ✭✭✭
    edited March 2019
    Jerry, I know what you mean. Flex has bug fixes in two groups. Those that simply bug us at times,,and then the ones that effect the performance of the radio (critical,),,or keep the radio from working properly.

    If a critcal bug is found then Flex will update this at no cost and even produce a small update to correct this.

    Other little bugs are part of a version release along with feature updates. But if a version is feature frozen as version 1 is then bug updates are not likely forth coming.
  • Michael CosloMichael Coslo Member
    edited March 2019
    What I don't understand is why things that some consider bugs work for me. I must be doing something wrong. 
  • edited March 2019
    I do not know about resale value on the flex, at least what they call "the cheep one" I paid just under 2500$ for my 6300 with a tuner, had to wait for it and when I ordered the 6400 I was told they would have a nice trade in program. When the time come to ship the 6400 they called and said I would get around 800 dollars for my trade in. I kept it for a spare. I just could not take such a large hit, I would rather have given it away to a friend. I understand they would have to resell it and they need to make money but I must say it left a bad taste in my mouth. 
  • Steve SampsonSteve Sampson Member
    edited June 23
    Three thoughts:
    1. This was the Flex plan since inception, and everyone that bought a Flex knew it.  
    2.  Software is the heart of the radio, expensive to build, and the Flex ham market is small.  Why would you think it should be free/cheaper.
    3.  If you want a radio without the upgrade options/cost, there are many choices you can pick from.  

    Bitching now about a free choice you made isn't appropriate

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