Blame the Millennials: The End of Family Tree Maker Genealogy Software

Genealogy expert Thomas MacEntee weighs in on the end of Family Tree Maker - can we blame the millenials and the subscription economy?

Genealogy Is All About Change . . . .

By now, many genealogists and family historians have learned of the bombshell announcement from yesterday in their blog post Ancestry to Retire Family Tree Maker Software. There will be no more sales of the most popular genealogy software after the end of 2015 and will only support existing versions of Family Tree Maker through the end of 2016.

And while the mob with its torches, pitchforks and rakes gather at the castle out for revenge and making demands or starting online petitions to keep a dying (and some would say already dead) program alive, let’s look at one of the main reasons for Ancestry’s decision.

It’s the Subscription Economy, Stupid.

Over the past few years, if you’ve taken a close look at products and services, you’ve noticed a shift from “ownership” to “rental.” Examples:

  • The rise of Netflix and other streaming, monthly subscription services at the demise of brick-and-mortar stores like Blockbuster.
  • An increase in “share” services, especially for large price items such as cars: services such as Zipcar are very popular in many cities.
  • In addition, cities like Chicago where I live, have seen the increasing use of “bike sharing systems” such as Divvy with its $75 yearly fee or $9.95 a day pass.

So what is driving this new subscription economy? The Millennials and their purchasing power. In The Subscription Economy: A Business Transformation, we see a move towards monthly or yearly subscription based products such as software which have traditionally been a “one time purchase so I own it” product.

The truth is that the Millennials don’t see the value in ownership of certain items. Some of it is related to limited economic resources and being judicious in how they spend their money. In addition, Millennials appreciate the freedom that comes with not being tied down to a product: if they want to move from QuickBooks to FreshBooks, they can just cancel their monthly subscription and do so.

Take a look at this infographic, Millennials Coming of Age, by Goldman Sachs, for a better understanding of how this dynamic group of consumers is turning the purchase of products and services upside-down in the 21st century.

Why Do Businesses Love the Subscription Model?

From a business perspective, there are many benefits to dropping the traditional product ownership model, such as buying Family Tree Maker and installing it on your computer and moving towards a web-only subscription model:

  • Lower costs having to support older versions of a product.
  • Lower costs in having to program new updates.
  • Lower costs in having to push out new versions.
  • All customers are now on the same version of a program.
  • Businesses can more easily build customer loyalty and leverage the “tribe” concept.

The Future: Genealogy Un-tethered

Personally, I think the move is a smart one. It allows them to focus more on their website and core customer base. In monitoring various online conversation including Facebook (where there has been much gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair), here are some predictions for the future of genealogy software:

  • The demise of Family Tree Maker is just the start of the trend in the genealogy market. However, I predict that programs such as RootsMagic and Legacy Family Tree will be on the market for at least another five years.
  • For the genealogy professional who are not fans of keeping client data online, Ancestry and other platforms will act as a “relay” system to access data stored on your computer. While the marketing staff want you to “share” as much as possible, doing so just is not feasible for those business owners who perform genealogy research for clients.
  • Eventually even the operating system for your computer will be “online;” most, if not all, of the current genealogy software programs will have to embrace the subscription model in order to be relevant and to survive.

The death of Family Tree Maker for me is like the death of an old friend: I first purchased the product from Banner Blue software in the 1990s. But it has served its purpose and I’m looking forward to what we’ll see in the future when it comes to storing and managing genealogy research data.

©2015, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.

Flip-Pal Announces StoryScans™ Talking Photos – Capture the Backstory of Family Photos

Couragent, Inc., makers of the Flip-Pal® mobile scanner, introduces StoryScans™ talking photos, a remarkable new feature for the Flip-Pal mobile scanner that allows recording audio and adding it in

Couragent, Inc., makers of the Flip-Pal® mobile scanner, introduces StoryScans™ talking photos, a remarkable new feature for the Flip-Pal mobile scanner that allows recording audio and adding it into a scan. According to Gordon Nuttall, CEO of Couragent, “We oftentimes say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, StoryScans talking photos shifts that a bit – voices transform scans into endearing stories.”


“Imagine how your family and friends will feel when you send them your grandma’s recipe, scanned with high accuracy showing her handwriting, tattered edges, smudges, the pretty illustration, and also with her voice telling you about it. Or, your grandfather proudly describing his Purple Heart medal from the Korean war. How about a photo of your grandma with your visiting cousin’s heartfelt description of her in England?  And, every grandparent would cherish getting a scan of your daughter’s drawing she created that day in art class, with her excited voice telling about it. The uses of StoryScans talking photos are far-reaching. Be among the first to use it and spread the word.”

What is StoryScans™ ?

StoryScans talking photos are easy to create.  For your Windows or OS-X computer, use the Flip-Pal Toolbox 4 software to record the audio and create the talking photo file.  For your iOS device (all models of iPhone and iPad), use the Flip-Pal ScanTools app.

StoryScans talking photos are easy to share. The small file contains both sight and sound and won’t get separated when sending via email, posting on social media, or uploading to the cloud. The Flip-Pal Toolbox 4 software includes automated uploads to your account on Facebook, Picassa, Dropbox, or Evernote. On your mobile devices, use your favorite apps to share. StoryScans files are supported universally and do not require an additional player.

©2015, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.

New Genealogy Software to Save Thousands of Man Hours

Ged-I is an innovative genealogy software that automates the extraction of ancestral information from genealogical texts.

[Editor’s Note: we received the following press release from Logique this morning – this new genealogy software product looks interesting!]

We live in an age of technology and information. Yet genealogy is still behind the times. It can take months, even years, for a genealogist to track down a single person. Many of them long to learn their family’s story, but can’t go forward until they find out who that person is.

Lorne Redmond is all too familiar with this problem. He has been doing genealogy work for decades and estimates that even the names and information he has on hand today could take him up to ten years to catalogue. That’s an entire decade of work.

Lorne just doesn’t have that kind of time. With his programming background, he decided to come up with a different approach to the problem: Ged-I.

Ged-I (which stands for GEDCOM Interpreter) is an innovative genealogy software that automates the extraction of ancestral information from genealogical texts. It takes a process that currently takes months, even years, and condenses it into a matter of hours.

Nothing like this currently exists. Ged-I is the first of its kind.

Ged-I is still in the development phase.   Logique LLC, the creators of Ged-I, is running a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo starting October 23, 2015, to accelerate development and get the product out to the people who need it.  You can find more info here:

And there are some great rewards available as well. As a backer, you can get access to the software before it is available to the general public, or become affiliated with the software. And, for a limited number of high-tier backers,  you can even get help writing your own family story!

For as little as $5 you can help Ged-I become a standard part of genealogical research.

Ged-I: Where will your family’s story lead?

©2015, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.