$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.
Their company isn't large enough to house a support team to do the subscription method you suggest. This means income is either this or forced obsolescence of our radios, which NONE of us want. A sub model could be their ultimate target, but as a company that is growing, they have a bit to go before they have the presence to rely on subs as their primary money maker.
I can understand some people's frustration with someone else's business model, but it seems to be working for them. Some people also may be upset thinking that they are focusing on only contest features only, but if this lets Flex get the money to keep the company running as a whole, then I'm all for it. They will revisit the smaller options for those who don't have massive pocketbooks. I want Flex to be around for decades to come. The upper management and board have a solid business head and know what they are doing. I've been a Flex-nut for 15+ years now and want them to be around for the next 20+!
It really boils down to this. If you are too cheap to upgrade or do not see the benefits of the major upgrade- dont. Easy peasy. For those that see the benefit - upgrade.
All my other radios... when they release a new version with features I want, i have to sell the radio and buy a whole new one. For Flex - the software is the magic.
2, The cost of software development it the most expensive part of Flex Radio operation. If Icom was paying this much for their software updates, it would not be free either.
3, This business model has to date been very productive and has been very successful.
4, Any needed maintenance updates for none feature releases will continue to be free as long as the software is still supported.
I just received an ANAN 7000DLE MKII. All updates are free, as they are open source. There is a learning curve and you need to know how to deal with software, so the radio is not for everyone. However, the ANF, noise reduction, diversity reception, and pure signal features are really good. I hear lots of chatter on the air about people purchasing these radios.
I have owned 3 Flex's and they are great radios. My 6500 is generally great. However, I do not think Flex is responsive to the needs of the general customer base. This is particularly true since the introduction of the "knob based" new models. An expectation of superior ANF and DSP-based NR is not unreasonable.
In any case, $200 for a major update is a bargain.
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.
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)
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
Is the radio perfect? No, but my 6400 is the best $2000 dollar radio in existence for my purposes.
Not one comment I have read from those who object to Flex's business model have added anything new to the debate.
Many have said it, including me, if you had read what FRS have said, it was obvious that a 'major' software release, denoted by the change from 1 to 2 or 2 to 3, that this would be a paid upgrade.
Like most Flex users, I have no problem with this model. If I choose not to buy the latest version my radio won't stop work exactly as it does with whatever version of the software I have.
OK, so you don't think that this feature or that feature works or isn't implemented to suit your taste, you are entitled to your opinion and I will defend your right to express it but, by the same token, you cannot deprive me of the right to disagree.
What I find difficult to accept is the vitriolic comments that some people make. We are all supposed to be reasonably educated people, surely it's not difficult to express your opinions in a reasonably educated way?
For me, it was a very big decision to buy a Flex in the first place but having done so, as someone who has been in IT for over 40 years and owned some of the most highly rated radios in nearly 60 years of Hamming, I can honestly say that, as far as I am concerned, FRS produce some of the best radios in the world and my Ham experience is far better now than it ever was.
One last thought, if you can afford 5 Flex radios, then surely you can afford to buy one copy of the software and try it. If you don't think it adds to you experience, don't upgrade your other radios.
The choice is yours, buy the upgrade or don't but please stop whinging about something you knew from day 1 of buying a Flex radio.
As per subscription for remote, as much as I don't like to shoot down ideas, the scenario of someone paying a monthly subscription so they can remote in to their own radio is a model that isn't worth the time to discuss. Who will actually pay that? Of all the people I know who have gotten a Flexradio, I can't think of anyone who would every pay a subscription in order to remote to their radio.
I and others have said this in the past. The ball is always in FRS's court when it comes to updates. If the features/improvements are good, people will upgrade. If they are not, they won't. FRS has a track record of implementing innovative and industry leading features and it is in their best interest to continue to do so, and all of us will benefit. OK, said it, now to get off my high horse.
Or, you can stay on Windows XP and the original version of all your apps until there is something that compels you to upgrade the OS or an app. Or wait and buy a new PC at some future date that has the newer software.
The Flex Radio is the same, you bought a piece of hardware that came with some software and it will continue to work without upgrades. If there is something in the upgrade you want or need bad enough then pay for the upgrade. Or wait and buy a new Flex with new software at some future date.
Today's Bank of Canada exchange rate on $200 US is $268.58 then we have HST of 13%, so the upgrade hits me at $303.50 Canadian dollars. 303 is a bigger number than 242 so I must getting ripped off. more than Spanish market right? Oh my, is there some radio amateur charity foundation out there to help me pay for my radio and my costly software upgrade? Also let me know if there is a charity fund for not so rich people so I can buy some golf clubs and pay for course fees, oh yeah. I use to have a boat, and had to sell it, Is there a charity to help me fund a new boat, come on.
Taking off that hat, sounds kinda silly doesn't it. I don't drink (too heavily), I don't smoke, cigarettes are very expensive here in Canada and I have family members spending well over $400 a month just smoking alone. That is over $5000 a year, that is just plain crazy I tell them. Quit smoking, reward yourself, go on a nice vacation with that money. So I think I can spend $303 dollars every couple years to upgrade my radio.
In the end, if you don’t like the radio or the company’s policies, sell it and move on.
Sorry but I have owned both a 6500, 6600, and a Maestro. All have been great products but when I did not need the Maestro, I sold it. Same for the 6500. Point is, if you don’t like something you have purchased, sell it .
Life it too short to read ongoing blogs about what people like and don’t like and how someone wants to change how a company works.
If you don’t like your Flex radio sell it and buy something you think you will like better. But let’s get this forum back to helping solve technical issues and learning from others.
1.There are NO annual software fees.
2.You can upgrade at any time and even skip over versions and still only pay $199 usd.
3. As Mark said “If you don’t like your Flex radio sell it and buy something you think you will like better”
With a Flexradio the radio just keeps getting better. In fact if you
own one of the older radio that run PowerSDR the software is still
getting update years after the radios have been discontinued. You
cant say that about any of the traditional radios. Even the Icom
IC7300 will only get a few Bug fixes/Updates and then that's it.
believe $199 is a very fair price to pay for State Of The Art
software that continues to be developed and improved.
title of the this thread is not accurate as there are NO annual
costs, I vote to close this thread.
You mentioned your interested in Sun SDR? I just checked them out,,wow $6.999.00 US for the cheap one, and that's much more here in Canada. Another 35% And you think Flex is expensive?
In addition, under the current system, upgrades are totally optional. If you skip one, or two, or more upgrades, the next one only costs $199. No retrograde fees are added.
In my book that is a great deal. Considering the original price of my 6500, it has been well worth the cost.
And I been inside all of my Flex radios. I clean the fans and give them a general look about.
All I see is quality. Is this not what we want?? I sure do. I am a very happy Flex owner and any way you look at it. with Flex and SSDR. It saves you money. You only need one radio, and you can take your Maestro or laptop and use it anyplace you want that has internet. So, we only need one radio at home, I used to need one at my place of business plus another antenna, another power supply. So in my opinion. When Flex has an upgrade and you see that you need it or don't need it simply by reading the release notes, then don''t buy it. Nobody is forced. And on the used market guys do look for the latest and the greatest. But I have the greatest and I am very happy. This is just my opinion. I love Flex radio and that is that.