How long is a lifetime? For Joyent, six years

How long should a "lifetime" subscription be honored? Cloud services company Joyent seeks to end an offer from 2006, angering customers.

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If you buy a "lifetime" subscription to something, just how long should it be honored, really?

Three years? Five? Ten? As long as the company exists? Forever?

San Francisco, Calif.-based cloud services company Joyent is attempting to move holdout customers to its new cloud platform, in doing so ending the "lifetime" deal these customers entered in by plunking down $500 for a services bundle.

It all started when Joyent acquired web hosting company TextDrive, which sold lifetime subscriptions to its earliest customers as a way to spur investment. Joyent honored the agreement, and everything was hunky dory. Until now.

The outrage is palpable. Here's one from Hacker News:

So sorry about not appreciating enough your new platform because " Everyone that’s moved to our new cloud infrastructure has been pleased with the results".

About the whole "lifetime" ("As long as we exist.") thing ... Stupid me. I never get that. I mean that was meant metaphorically, right, like in marriages?

And another:

200 shared hosting accounts (the state of play when I signed up) should be trivial for them to provide - even if they outsource that obligation to another provider.

And another from Google Plus:

Apparently by "lifetime" they meant until we get tired of supporting them....... 

The about-face on policy here is certainly undesired, but the situation raises a great question: if a company is bold (stupid?) enough to offer "lifetime" subscriptions to services, how long would you expect to have them before it's fair to pull the plug?

In a world where technologies replace technologies (and the companies behind them), how long is a "lifetime"?

[via TechCrunch]

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