Ironically, Jim Rapoza takes a shot at subscription pricing in a magazine that is supported by.... subscription pricing. Irony aside, he makes the end user case for perpetual licensing, and denigrates vendor motivations:
That's because most of these vendors really, really want these types of licenses to take off. They want to be freed from the constant revision cycle and the fears that customers won't upgrade to the latest versions. They want the constant, reliable revenue streams that subscriptions and utility licenses can provide.
I get complaints about Cincom's subscription pricing for Smalltalk, and the rationales given are like those Rapoza brings forward - they boil down to a suspicion that Cincom is simply trying to extort the last possible dollar from customers. Here's what's actually going on - we are trying (and succeeding) to create a sustainable business. Most companies aren't selling thousands and thousands of units every month (or year, even). Getting people to upgrade - even to a compelling new release - is not always easy (inertia plays a big role here). Why does a vendor need a steady, reliable stream of revenue? Well, it depends - do you want the vendor to be able to pay their engineers (and other assorted costs) on an ongoing basis or not?
It's really that simple when you get right down to it. The cost of continuing development is mostly one of personnel, not hardware. The blunt truth is - and you can see this in the demise of so many development tools over the last decade - the simpler "pay once" plans don't tend to cover costs. The only way for them to do so is for the vendor to sell (literally) thousands of new development seats each year.