So, since no details about this seem to be forthcoming from Blynk, I’ll try to analyze this topic on my own, to ask for comment from the community and from Blynk.
On May 8, 2023 Blynk has updated its terms of service to change one very important paragrapth:
Old (Nov 29, 2021):
The only legal way to use Blynk products and services for commercial purposes is to sign up for a paid licensing subscription plan listed here: https://blynk.io/plans
New (May 8, 2023):
Platform Licensing Plans
1. Free Plan: Designed for users to explore the platform’s features, the Free Plan may be subject to frequent updates and optimizations, with or without prior notice. As such, it is not recommended for projects requiring stable and reliable operation.
2. Plus Plan: Exclusively for personal projects, the Plus Plan is tailored for individual users.
This change obviously completely changes the terms for the “Plus” plan, disallowing commercial usage. This was not communicated in any way (as far as I can tell) to the customers. That’s all right, since it does not apply to existing customers, as specified further up in the ToS:
These Terms of Service are subject to change at any time, without prior notice. Any changes that are made to these Terms of Service will not apply retroactively and will not apply to disputes or events occurring before the change is published. These Terms of Service apply to all visitors and all who access our Services.
So far, this is still bad for a person or small team that wants to start developing something with commercial intent on Blynk, since they have to pay around 8x the price for the Pro plan instead of the Plus plan before. But it is perfectly acceptable for Blynk to change their strategy and update their plans.
Now we come to the more sketchy part:
On October 13th, 2023 Blynk send out an email announcing these changes to customers:
On October 16, 2023, we’ll be making some changes to our pricing plans to better serve their intended purpose.
If you’re currently on Blynk Plus plan, your existing projects and functionality will stay exactly the same as long as you keep your current subscription. No changes to your current setup.
However, if you ever decide to change your current plan—whether it’s canceling, upgrading, or downgrading—you’ll transition to the new plan versions. Starting from October 16, 2023, only the new plan versions will be available for subscription.
Please keep in mind that Plus plan is intended solely for personal use. If you are currently using Plus plan as a corporate user or for commercial prototyping, you should switch to PRO plan ASAP to avoid violating ToS.
We appreciate you being part of the Blynk community, and we’re here to ensure a smooth transition. Stay tuned for more updates, and thank you for making Blynk awesome!
Best regards, The Blynk Team
So, this gives the customer three days to understand the situation (which is not explained, not in the email or anywhere else) and decide if they need to update their plan.
Also, finding out if you need to updated anything, or even what has changed in the plans, is quite difficult, since there is no explanation anywhere about what has changed in the Plus plan. You need to go to your account and compare the current plan to the new plan, or use the wayback machine to compare the plan pages.
The email says “No changes to your current setup” and at the same time tries to threaten the customer into upgrading their plan to 8x the price “to avoid violating ToS”. We have already established, that this is not the case, since the new ToS do not apply to the existing customers, so this threat is really uncalled for.
Overall, I am quite diappointed with the ToS change. It shows a shift of focus away from small customers toward large businesses. This is understandable from the financial point of view, but for the community, it seems quite poisonous.
I am part of a three person team and am currently the only one who has worked with Blynk, so I have the Plus plan. While we would happily get a pro or enterprise plan once we have a product we want to test or sell, this is still years out, and during evaluation and development we simply don’t need the Pro features and cannot afford the price.
Generally I am of the opinion that the only way to earn money with open source software is to offer good services. If your Pro service is not good enough that small developers will want to have it, well, then it is just that: Not good enough. No customer is happy, if the service he wants to use is denied to him on a technicality.
But I am even more disappointed about the communication about the changes.
Blynk has implemented a change in the Plus plan, basically without explanation, and without giving the customers any information at all. It really feels like a basic “We want more money” move, badly executed.
Then they try to bully customers into booking a 8x more expensive plan by threatening them with ToS violations, which is at the same time untrue, very rude and generally really bad communication.
I would really like to see some open communication about what is going on (is Blynk running out of money, so they need to upgrtade customers and cannot afford professional PR?), what the strategy and goals for the company and the product are and how all this is supposed to fit into the open source world.
I have certain standards about open source software and the companies behind it, and at the moment, I have serous doubts if Blynk is still a good partner for the kind of projects we are working on and thinking about.
And I really want to know if anyone at Blynk even cares at all about any of this. Because so far, I have not seen that.
Please let me know your thoughts and feedback. Am I alone in my irritation and worry?