I just paid Astro-Physics $20K for a new AP AEL mount and required accessories. Now I learn that over the next 20 years I am going to be nickel and dimed for the software I need to run it. This is on top of the recent price increase for the mount itself. While I hear you say that the mount will continue to operate using the current version of APCC Pro, will that still be the case 5, 10 or 15 years from now? If APCC Pro breaks due to changes to the Windows operating system or due to updates to other 3rd party software I use with mount, are these considered “bugs” or “enhancements”?
As I understand it, AE mounts require APCC Pro so if we purchased a mount with encoders we are locked into paying the higher $100 vs. $50 annual maintenance fees. This would appear to penalize those of us that purchased AE mounts.
While I can appreciate the need to secure future revenue streams to “pay” for future enhancements, I think this is a little disingenuous to suggest that current and past customers should pay for these enhancements. Looking over the changes to APCC over the last 5 years, I am not seen anything that would justify a $100 annual maintenance fee. Other than the couple of changes announced yesterday what other “enhancements” would we have needed to pay for over the last 5 years under the new Software as a Service (SaaS) model?
I don’t mind paying up for the Astro-Physics telescopes, mounts and accessories as I think the quality and support is industry leading. What I didn’t expect from a company like Astro-Physics is to learn after purchasing a mount that I need to pay an annual fee just to keep it up-to-date. I think of Astro-Physics as the “Apple” of the astronomy equipment manufactures. I have had Apple products for many years and I don’t ever remember having to pay a maintenance fee to update my devices to the latest version that included both bug fixes and enhancements. I am just a bit disappointed that AP would be adopting this SaaS model that seems to be taking the industry by storm.