perpetual license

Dorico wonders if he doesn’t have to pay a monthly subscription fee.

There is a monthly or annual subscription for the iPad version, but not for the desktop version.

This is because of the pricing options that Apple allows to the developers.

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Desktop Dorico versions are not subscription based. You buy the program, and if you want, you pay for major upgrades but not for smaller updates.

Dorico for iPad has a subscription model for its higher level (currently comparable to the capability of Dorico Elements).


thanks your kindness!! Sibelius has turned into a maggot, so I’m thinking of changing it.

Welcome to the forum. You’ll find lots of former Sibelius users here who will happy to help. Just a word of warning: you’ll quickly find that Dorico is quite different. I strongly advise you watch several of the introductory videos first, as well as reading the First Steps guide, before you jump in.

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This is because of the pricing options that Apple allows to the developers.

I’ve seen this mentioned a few times, and sadly it’s misinformation.

Steinberg could certainly offer the same pricing scheme on iPad as they do on desktop. They could either:

  • Offer each major version of Dorico as a separate app on the store. The app has a free purchase price, and functions as a reader for Dorico files for free. An in-app purchase is available to “unlock” Dorico – one purchase is available for full price, another is available for upgrade price. The upgrade one scans App Store receipts for the purchase of a previous full version of Dorico to consider eligibility. This would mean that users had to download a ‘new app’ to upgrade, but this method does work and has been used by developers such as OmniGroup.

  • Offer one single app. Use a separate in-app purchase to unlock each major version (with two versions of each, for upgrade vs full price, eligibility just by checking which other in-app purchases have been previously made within this app). The downside of this approach is that they’d have to ensure that, when v4 is released, the exact same app can run with all the v3 features unlocked for any user who bought v3 but has not upgraded. This would be a pain in the ass technically to accomplish.

I’m not saying these would be better than doing subscription pricing. But they do work and are compatible with Apple’s rules, so it’s not fair to just say “it’s Apple’s fault/decision” when Steinberg made the decision.

Yes, but the Dorico team has said exactly that, several times. Both those options were rejected as impractical. Hence the subscription.

So while Apple isn’t forcing this method, it is really true that the pricing structure for Dorico on iPad is because of how the Apple store works.

Yes, but the Dorico team has said exactly that, several times. Both those options were rejected as impractical.

It’s the Dorico team I think are being a bit disingenuous. (I don’t mean to shoot the messenger!) The first of the options certainly can work. I’d rather Steinberg owned the decision to have a subscription app, rather than attempting to pass the buck and say it’s inevitable.

Anyhow, sorry to cause a tangent!

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It’s not a tangent, as this sort of thing is of course a huge deal for users. We’re paying, after all…

I think the general consensus was in favor of the subscription model for the iPad version. I certainly wouldn’t want multiple versions on the store. For $39 a year, it makes sense. But then, I’m thankful I don’t work in marketing…

For $39 a year, it makes sense.

Yeah. I haven’t yet bought the iPad version (although I have an iPad, I haven’t felt inclined to arrange music on it, over a computer!) — but if I ever saw the need, I wouldn’t mind the price.

I don’t think you can accuse the Dorico team of being disingenuous about anything. They explain their choices clearly and in detail, and have certainly ‘owned’ the decision to have a subscription on the iPad.


For one thing, they are a small development team, so imagine trying to tax them with supporting multiple iterations of the Dorico app. What would happen, for instance, when there are major iterations of ipadOS that then break the app(s)? They’d have to fix 3 or 4 apps rather than just maintaining compatibility with one.

There’s also the fact that they don’t want to cannibalize their “big dorico” line (ie- dorico on regular computers) but want to have this as a supplemental tool rather than a replacement on a third platform. They’ve stated rather forthrightly that they desired to provide an app that had a low barrier fee (both convenience and cost) to expand the user base.

As for payments to unlock functionality, they already do that with the annual subscription option, the difference is it unlocks “elements” levels of functionality rather than “pro”. I would imagine there are both strategic (see preceding paragraph) as well as technical limitations at play here. iPads, while crammed with powerful processors, are limited in other ways (ram, for a start) so I suspect true parity on iPadOS will truly be a long way off—if ever.

I’m all for a powerful ipad app, but it will never be able to replace my desktop setup, nor do I desire such a thing.

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IIRC, Daniel once said that there might be a place for a higher level iPad app at a different (presumably higher) subscription rate if the response to the current iPad version and a market for a more Pro-like version developed.

Nothing was ever promised (and although I have subscribed to the iPad version, I do it primarily to support the Team’s work and to see what develops). Like you, I am much more comfortable working on my desktop’s Pro version, but then I am hardly ever far from home these days when I need to work.

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