This is why I don’t think they should go 100% online only. They can still use the dongle system while implementing an additional online system.
The biggest issue with the dongle is. Is much easier for a client to steal without being detected. The laptop or computer I can chain down with a Kensington Lock but the dongle I have no way of locking it down to the desk. They are super small and it’s very easy for a client to steal them. I hear stories about stolen dongles all the time. Then online might be better right?
Then on the other side of things, most DJ/Producers travel and airport WiFi and public wifi is not safe. Even I’ve had my credit card info stolen over the airport WiFi before. I have a firewall blocking everything when on public wifi. If licensing is done over the internet and has to be done on a regular basis to keep working and that connection is public, eventually someone will work out how to intercept that information and steal it. A travelling DJ/Producer has less time to find a café with WiFi and works all crazy time zones and mobile hotspots either don’t work on roaming or are extremely expensive.
Those that freelance are often going to be working in studios that don’t have WiFi access for visitors. Most the studios here in LA aren’t giving out WiFi passwords to those hiring a room for a day.
I actually think they should just go with a simple serial number even though piracy will increase. Every other major DAW in the world has been pirated within the last couple of years or less so if a kid is going to learn music production or beat-making, they are most likely going to start learning on a different DAW that they pirated online. Eventually those people will become professionals and lots will end up buying whatever DAW they learnt on. Convincing them to jump over to Cubase is extremely difficult if not impossible in many cases once they are a Pro at another DAW. I see people on YouTube comparing the last cracked version of Cubase, version 5 to the latest version of other DAWs and complaining that Cubase seems old and outdated. They don’t even realize they are testing a version from over 10 years ago as it still gets shared. Then they decide they don’t like it.
Most YouTube tutorial videos are taught by some kid with a cracked version of a DAW and other people are watching them thinking, I need this particular DAW. I rarely see Cubase in tutorial videos at all which is crazy because it’s actually better than most DAWs in most areas. Based on Google trends data, Cubase was at it’s highest popularity during the time it was being pirated and now gets searched for way less. Ableton is the most search DAW now based on Google trends DATA. It’s probably also the most pirated since it has practically no copy protection, followed by Logic which also has no copy protection other than need MacOS. If you were able to compare the international sales data for Ableton with Cubase and then if Cubase comes out lower even though Ableton lacks so many functions of Cubase, then the only logical conclusion would be lack of exposure on planforms like YouTube and that lack of exposure is just because Ableton is cracked of recent and Cubase isn’t.
Steinberg really should have abandoned the dongle once it was shown that it can be cracked given enough time. Now they might feel that it’s too late but what they really need to do is abandon it at the exact same time as getting some celebrity endorsements from famous music producers and DJs doing videos of it on YouTube. This might not be so easy though as those people started learning pirated versions of other DAWs and most don’t use Cubase. But assuming they could get the endorsements and scrap the dongle, then all the kiddies can get their pirated version and make videos on YouTube. The unfortunate reality is that most professionals like myself work 8-16 hours or more per day in the studio and don’t have time to be making YouTube videos for free. That is the real marketing problem for Steinberg. The free marketing of pirates posting YouTube, Facebook and Instagram videos that they are missing out on. The internet has changed. Marketing has changed. This concern for such high anti-piracy might not be the best move anymore. I think the whole concept needs to be heavily investigated to see if future loss or profit is likely to come out of moving to a easy to crack system like a serial number. I know they think that it will be worse and cause them to loose money but over a 5-10 year period, I’m not so sure. Just look at the rapid growth of Studio One. They don’t have a dongle.