Are Premium WordPress Themes Going Out of Style?

There has been some interesting discussion about WPblogger about premium WordPress themes. The author of the original post says “Premium WordPress Themes are Dead.”

Ben Cook suggests that people aren’t really interested in buying an individual theme so much as a highly configurable theme that acts more like a framework. A foundation that they can build upon, tweaking it to look how they want through a backend menu. Essentially, Thesis.

Sure it’s nice that companies like iThemes keep turning out new themes, but they’re fighting a losing battle.

People don’t want to purchase a different theme for every new site they create or every time they want to redesign their site. We want a framework that allows us to make a vast array of design changes as quickly and easily as possible.

Personally, I don’t believe this to be the case. I’m not really a Thesis fan myself, preferring to build my sites’ themes “the real way.” I think people still want to buy themes for the design, not just for a tweakable platform. That’s not to say people don’t want customization, far from it. WooThemes is a prime example. Their themes are primarily design-oriented, but they have plenty of customization options in the backend, albeit less than Thesis. I believe that the two points will converge in the future, bringing more and more customization options to more design-oriented themes.

Though I wonder if frameworks like Hybrid and Thematic will gain similar customization options to Thesis, bringing about a similar result. With customization options in the core of a theme framework like Thematic, and a large community of child theme makers, you have the convergence point I predict, no?