The folks at TypePad have just announced the launch date for the service: Monday 4th August at 11:59 pm (Pacific Time).
They have also announced the full list of features, and pricing plans. You can get their “Basic” service for $4.95 a month, or $49.50 if you pay a year in advance. The “Plus” service, which is the first price plan that allows you to do Photo albums weighs in at $8.95 a month ($89.50 / year), and the “Pro” service, which gives you full control over all of your page templates, is $14.95 a month ($149.50 / year). All plans give a 30-day free trial, but note the absence of a “free” or “ad-supported” option. Smart.
These prices seem very good to me, especially when you see that they include 50, 100 and 200MB of disk space, and 1, 2 and 3GB of monthly bandwidth respectively. If you were just looking at web hosting providers, those prices would be competitive. When you consider that you’re getting the TypePad managed blogging service included, it’s a bit of a bargain.
I’m now wondering if my previous $145 estimate for the cost of Movable Type Pro might not be a bit on the low side. At $145, it would cost about the same as a year’s subscription to TypePad Pro. Considering that a subscription includes the cost of web space, TypePad sounds like a great deal for light and medium MT users. For these users the “Domain Mapping” feature (Plus and Pro only) will be a particularly important selling point, as it means not having to change your blog’s URL if you migrate to TypePad.
Heavy-duty blogging users may want more customizability than TypePad offers, or the ability to run custom scripts, or they may just prefer to keep tighter control of their own web space, and so they are more likely to want a slice of MT Pro.
I’d probably say that if Six Apart pitch MT Pro at anything less than $145, they will be cannibalizing sales of TypePad subscriptions. Subscriptions provide a reliable income stream, which leads to a more stable business model in a rapidly evolving market (like blogging). On the other hand, the potential user base for TypePad (people who want to blog, but don’t want the hassle) is much larger than the number of enthusiasts who have the time and knowledge to tweak an MT installation on their own servers. So even if MT Pro sales do eat into TypePad subscriptions, it won’t be by a significant percentage.
Also, given that the market for MT Pro consists mostly of individual bloggers rather than business users, there’s the question of how much higher the price can be before it becomes unattractive even to these enthusiasts. $145 is already quite a lot to pay for a piece of software. But enthusiasts can often be relied upon to lay down a lot of cash for good software. Take Photoshop, for example. A brand-new license will set you back $550, and an upgrade is $135. Yet non-corporate users continue to buy it.
My current guess is that they’ll put some kind of multi-tier pricing structure in place. Something like:
- MT Basic (version 2.x): Free.
- MT Basic (commercial use): $150
- MT Pro (upgrade, only for users who have already donated to MT, and may be reduced by the amount of prior donations): $150
- MT Pro (new license): $200 – $250
- MT Pro (commercial use): $500+
However, Six Apart have a staff of three right now. With the launch of TypePad, they’re all going to be phenomenally busy. I don’t quite see how they’ll to be able to stage a release of MT Pro anytime soon….