Cloud-based software, typically licensed via a subscription model, became all the rage in recent years, as an article by Jeff Bennion for Above The Law demonstrated. Bennion points out several obvious benefits to subscription-based software, as opposed to only a handful of negative aspects, not the least of which are the overall cost savings, the often-included cloud storage abundance, and the ability to receive immediate upgrades without having to make another purchase.

But a report by Shira Ovide for Bloomberg shows another reality in the cloud-based tech space, and that’s a drop in the valuation of startups that produce subscription modelled products. This data is coupled with numbers that demonstrate the inability of major companies who’ve bought some smaller startups to eek any profit from the moves.

So where does that leave the users? Do consumers bother investing in a new system, hoping they don’t wake up to an email from Microsoft informing them their OneDrive storage is about to be slashed? Do businesses go back to the days of running a fifteen-year-old Office Suite because their employees are already trained on the old system?

One of the correlations in this scenario (unlikely though it may seem) was the seismic-level shift in online publishing. Everyone from indie authors to Big Five publishers to scholarly journals embraced digital reading in its present form, and were quick to develop “downloadable” content that let users carry a full library in their pockets. But only a few short years after the boom, smart startups noticed a characteristic that once again completely revamped digital publishing, and that was the abundance of readily available wifi. There was no need to chew up memory space in your device with full downloads of the entire Game of Thrones series, since you could read-as-you-go through public hotspots or the enticing unlimited data offers carriers began to provide.

So it’s not just about companies developing better technology or a changing tech landscape. As with digital reading, consumer tech behavior will be the driving factor in whether or not cloud-based subscription software thrives in a changing market or continues to fade.