April 26, 2023
4 mins

Bubble after the Pricing changes.

Even years ago people were saying “Bubble is a great place to develop your MVP but when you get real success you will need to build on a “proper” platform and method". It’s an easy throw-away comment to make - it sounds “wise” - but then 2.5 million people built Bubble apps.

Whether Bubble is a good or bad idea depends on your Application and Business model - there are tradeoffs and Bubble pricing changes alter the tradeoffs.

What is Bubble bad for?

Bubble is not for high public traffic eg Facebook type marketplaces, directories, social apps. Essentially Bubble now has a “pay-per-view” model- albeit with a high  threshold before you start paying. But if your business model is “we will have a lot of traffic with tiny margins and we need a lot of traffic to make any money” - Bubble will be too expensive. To state the obvious - Ebay, Facebook, Twitter don’t develop on Bubble.

Bubble is not for bulk data processing - eg daily summary reports. It’s not surprising that Bubble don't want to be free or very cheap compute for bulk processing. Offloading that processing to a cheaper method, Google Cloud Function, AWS Lambdas, Supabase functions is an efficient idea - but these are not “NoCode” solutions - offloading requires coding and developers. You face “development costs” vs “processing costs” decisions.  To make it obvious - Bubble use AWS hosting - Bubble is a cost layer on top of AWS.

Bubble is not for frequently scheduled bulk actions eg Campaign Management (realtime Dashboards, doing what Active Campaign, push updates, high frequency, scheduled compute operations)  Bubble is yet to create efficient ways to deal with scheduled, bulk operations. These operations are cheap elsewhere but with Bubble these are slow and now potentially expensive operations - we historically created them in Bubble because they had cheap development costs, and cheap to run.

We overlooked the “hackiness” and slow processing because it was cheap.

We overlooked thinking about it because we were exploiting a pricing loophole that is closing.  When a resource is near free - why optimise our App or Business model?  

What is Bubble good for?  

If you use Bubble because “It was within my skillset and budget to create and test my idea on Bubble” - that still holds true. But you now need to consider optimisation and efficiency in the way you design and create your App.  Bubble isn’t magic - it doesn’t optimise your design - but it’s a bit worse than that - it doesn’t (yet) have the tools to optimise your design. (Tools of the level we expect in other development stacks)

If your Business model supports charging your users - Bubble is likely fine - it’s likely that the costs per use will be negligible unless your economics are very out of line.

If you use Bubble (or any Nocode platform including Flutterflow, Weweb etc etc )  because it’s cheap place to develop my App …. and when-ever and where-ever I face costs that need to be optimised - I’ll deal with it.  I think this is smart - don’t speculatively start optimising your costs when your revenue is Zero ....

Figure out your Product Market Fit as cheaply and quickly as possible.  

Thinking a bit deeper about “lock-in” - what if Bubble announce something that breaks my business model? This is typical Business risk. Every time you make a decision of “I’ll use X service to provide Y function because it is cheaper” (build vs buy) - you’ve created lock-in and an exit cost.  With any decision there is tradeoffs, risk and migrations costs with choosing a tool, supplier.

You now have to pay $8 a month to get a Twitter Blue tick or $1000 month if you are a business. Are you locked in to Twitter?

What I expect will happen over the next few months is we will untangle the lock-in and exit costs of Bubble. That has been happening with the Bubble database vs Xano for a while.  

But now we are thinking about the UI - what are the costs to migrate an app off Bubble? How do I do that safely with a running service? What are the full alternative costs?  

Where do I start optimising my costs?

We will also over then next few months start to get better ideas of cost predictability - there is very little data yet to be able to estimate an App costs.

I love Bubble, I think it's a fantastic product and community and I am angry and disappointed by the way Bubble have handled this pricing change.