Why the New Gaia GPS is a Subscription App

This article explains why the new Gaia GPS app is a subscription with free trial, instead of a paid download with optional subscription, like the old app.

In summary, subscriptions make Gaia GPS sustainable, and align with the continuous development and support that go into Gaia GPS.

Continuous Work

Because Gaia GPS requires continuous effort, we believe a subscription model makes the app and company sustainable long term.

Most of the ongoing expense is development. We update Gaia GPS more than once a month, with work such as:

  • new features, improvements, and fixing of user-reported bugs
  • making Gaia GPS work with new iOS releases
  • making Gaia GPS work with new Apple hardware

Other continuous and growing expenses include:

  • servers
  • map licensing
  • support for users

Sustainable Community

Gaia GPS has grown tremendously over the last couple of years, but such growth is unsustainable. In the future, sales growth may be eclipsed by growing costs to support existing users.

By instituting a subscription model in the new Gaia GPS, we can assure that the company can always serve the community. Over the long term, it’s not sustainable to sell an app for $20 and then support/update it forever.

Focus on the Right Work

Another reason to switch to subscriptions is less tangible, but also very important – incentives. Subscriptions align the incentives of the company with the community.

A subscription model means the company can focus more work on the community, and less on work to attract new buyers. There is still a balance, but subscriptions tip it more towards serving existing users.

Previous Pricing was Confusing

There were multiple problems with the old Gaia GPS pricing.

  • many people balk at $20 upfront
  • the old app’s pay+subscription model confused people, and they often asked if the app required a subscription
  • it was hard for people to understand what they were buying at the base and GaiaPro levels

Grow Revenue, Serve Community

We of course do want this to produce larger revenues long-term, but that money will serve to improve the product, grow the team, and do good support. And the people who end up paying the most are the people who use the product the most.

Gaia GPS is a boot-strapped company with no investors, that grew from 2 people to 10 over the course of 8 years. We have consistently reinvested the profits from the company since the beginning, and we’d be honored if folks in the community would continue to support us with a small yearly fee.


In summary, we think this is the right thing for the company and user community, but we sympathize with folks who don’t like subscriptions.

Anyone who used the old Gaia GPS can write to support@gaiagps.com, and we’ll work it out with any user to their satisfaction.