Crafting device maker Cricut has completely abandoned a plan to require all device owners to pay a monthly subscription fee after a week of continued public backlash.
Cricut makes precision detail cutting machines used by millions of home workers. The machines work just like printers, but in reverse: you place a pattern in the software, send it to the machine and the machine cuts your design into paper, vinyl, fabric or a hundred other materials. Users who owned the machines have always been able to import as many of their own designs into the software, Design Maker, as they wished.
Last week, however, Cricut announced it was imposing a $7.99 monthly subscription fee for anyone who wanted to upload more than a handful of patterns to Design Maker in any given calendar month. The subscription would not only extend to new users, but also the millions of consumers who have already paid hundreds of dollars for a Cricut device and all its accessories.
The response from the crafting community has been predictably quick and furious, and earlier this week Cricut CEO Ashish Arora partially backtracked on the policy change, saying that any Cricut machine purchased before the end of this year – December 31, 2021 – will have unlimited would retain access and henceforth be exempt from subscription fees. Now, however, Arora acknowledges that the company has given up completely.
“My team has been listening, learning and getting a lot of feedback all week. Not every decision we make is perfect, but we take every opportunity to learn and get better,” Arora said in a statement Thursday afternoon. “So we’ve made the decision to roll back our previously shared plans. At this point, any member can upload an unlimited number of images and patterns to Design Space for free, and we don’t plan to change this policy regardless of whether you are a current Cricut member or thinking about joining the Cricut family before or after 31-12-2021.”
While consumers have emerged victorious in this case, the victory may ultimately be temporary. Cricut filed for an initial public offering of shares last week, and in the future it may still try to find a way to leverage the zeitgeist of the all-as-a-service revenue model used in an increasing variety of sectors. In the meantime, it’s not the first company to retroactively impose (or attempt to impose) a mandatory fee, and it probably won’t be the last.