Crafting device-maker Cricut has completely abandoned a plan to start requiring all device owners to pay a monthly subscription fee following a week of sustained public blowback.
Cricut makes cutting machines for precise detail work used by millions of home crafters. The machines work much like printers, but in the inverse: you put a pattern into the software, send it to the device, and the machine slices 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 wish.
Last week, however, Cricut announced it was imposing a $7.99 monthly subscription fee for anyone who wished to upload more than a handful of patterns into Design Maker in a given calendar month. The subscription would apply not only to new users, but also to the millions of consumers who already laid out hundreds of dollars for a Cricut device and all its attendant accessories.
Reaction from the crafting community was predictably swift and furious, and earlier this week, Cricut CEO Ashish Arora partially walked back the policy change, saying any Cricut machine purchased before the end of this year—December 31, 2021—would keep unlimited access and be exempt from the subscription fee going forward. Now, however, Arora acknowledges the company has given up entirely.
“My team has spent the week listening, learning, and taking in a lot of feedback. 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 reverse our previously shared plans. Right now, every member can upload an unlimited number of images and patterns to Design Space for free, and we have no intention to change this policy. This is true whether you’re a current Cricut member or are thinking about joining the Cricut family before or after December 31, 2021.”
While consumers have emerged victorious in this instance, the win may ultimately be impermanent. Cricut filed last week for an initial public offering of stock, and in the future it may still try to find a way to tap into the everything-as-a-service revenue model zeitgeist employed in an ever-growing variety of sectors. In the meantime, it’s not the first business to have imposed (or tried to impose) a mandatory fee retroactively, and it is unlikely to be the last.