If you need to buy FileMaker Pro these days (March 2015) and you don't qualify for volume-licensing discounts, you'll pay about $330 for a single license. Is that expensive?
I know it sounds expensive to some of my clients and licensees. One reason for this is that our expectations have been modified profoundly in the last dozen years. The price of a lot of software has gone down dramatically, and Google notoriously gives extremely powerful software and services away for free, or almost for free. Meanwhile, FileMaker's price has remained about the same. It went up 10% from $300 to $329 when they released version 12, if I recall. But prior to that, it had been $300 for as long as I can remember — back to before 2000.
FileMaker Inc does now publish a "dumb client," and they give it away for free. That's FileMaker Go. Can a user take full advantage of a database using FileMaker Go? Of course, it depends on the database. Rucksack's DO-DAT to-do database works about as well on my iPhone as on my computer. But the fact remains, there are a lot of benefits to using a well-developed FileMaker database on a computer inside FileMaker Pro instead of on an iOS device inside FileMaker Go.
I have only a vague awareness of what FileMaker spends on research and development but it's a fair amount. And of course FileMaker Inc knows that its product is being used by the majority of its licensees for business. If you’re running your business with FileMaker databases, buying licenses will cost you a little more than $10 per user per month, if you manage to use any given version for a couple of years, and if you amortize the cost of one new license and one upgrade over four years. Not too surprisingly, that's pretty close to the price of volume-licensing. As a very small business owner myself, I do understand the problem of tight budgets and I’ve certainly canceled services to save $10 a month. But I cancel only when I'm paying for something I don't need. I need FileMaker Pro, and if you're reading this, you probably do, too.
William Porter is Rucksack's owner and principal. He's been writing on a range of tech subjects for three decades. Yikes!