Pushbullet finally monetises its service

We always knew it couldn’t last forever, sooner or later Pushbullet would have to start making money. This week we found out exactly how they will be doing that. In a polarising decision the company has opted for a subscription service, by “offering features worth paying for” – particularly peculiar considering those features all used to be free.

Before I explain what is free and what now falls under Pushbullet Pro services, let me quickly explain what Pushbullet is and does. Pushbullet is a small application that allows you to share information, in a variety of formats, between your smart devices and your personal computer. These formats include links, images, simple text and the like. All you do is install either a desktop app (Mac or Windows) or the Chrome Extension, get the app on your smart device (Android or iOS), sign in on both, and you’re connected. Easy as pie.

The app did a little more than that though, it also offered a universal clipboard which means that you could copy something to your phone’s clipboard, and paste it on your computer. Notification mirroring and actions (responding) were also supported for a number of instant messengers, including WhatsApp, Kik, etc. Pushbullet additionally let you manage your SMS, while providing functionality to respond to and create SMS as well.

Granted, that sounds like a whole lot of things that the app can do, and it really is a very useful piece of software. However, I don’t know how I feel about the way they’ve decided to monetise. I never agree with the removal of functionality to get users to buy Pro versions, not when they’ve become accustomed to using ALL of the functionality for free for the past two years.

All of the above mentioned features will be available to subscribers of Pushbullet Pro at a rate of R70 (US$4.99) per month or R565 (US$39.99) per year with R282 (US$20) discount should you choose a once off annual payment. Now I understand that servers for a service like Pushbullet require funding, but I don’t believe that the service provided is worth the asking price. Compare that to a streaming music service, and the value R100 per month can get you, is notification management, sharing links and pushing files worth the asking price? To me, no, to you, maybe. Particularly when you consider the app is rated to have between one and five-million installs on the Play Store.

The company suggests that users upgrade because of the new “additional feature” that are actually just the app’s features now hidden behind the subscription, end-to-end encryption and because “you want a great app to continue to get better.” The change will be effective from December 1, but for those interested, you can sign up for a Pro account today and will only be billed on the first of next month.

I do hope the change works for Pushbullet, because in the time I used the app it was always evolving, improving and changing for the better. Hopefully this new avenue won’t turn drive away too many users, heck, hopefully it even brings them some new ones. I just won’t be one of them.



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