What Will it Take to Move Everyone to Creative Cloud?

crystal-ball

Will you continue buying or will you move to Creative Cloud?

Things in the software business have changed dramatically over the years. From floppy disks packed with thick user manuals to CDs and DVDs with PDF manuals and finally to software downloads via the internet there’s been a steady progression in the way we buy our software. But the biggest change is happening now and it has nothing to do with packaging and everything to do with licensing.

In the past we’d buy a program and use for however long we wanted or needed. If a new version came out and we felt it worth the upgrade cost we bought it. If not, we skipped that version or maybe even a couple. But then Adobe got a bright idea. A couple of versions back, they offered users the ability to rent software by the month. I’m not sure how successful it was but I can honestly say I don’t know of one single person who “took advantage” of the offer. Not to be dissuaded, Adobe kept at and about a year ago introduced Creative Cloud.

What was different about Creative Cloud? For starters it was (and still is) very affordable. For $29.99/month for the first year ($49.99/month thereafter) you get the entire Master Collection, Lightroom, a subscription to TypeKit, Adobe Muse, Adobe Edge Animate and 20 gigabytes of online storage. And if that wasn’t enough, anyone interested Digital Publishing Suite can publish as many Single Edition apps as they can possibly create. This one feature alone would cost you $395 for each app (more than the cost of the first year of Creative Cloud). Finally, this subscription comes with immediate access to whatever comes next. No need to worry about whether to upgrade.

Clearly, this is the direction Adobe wants its users to take, and to further convince them that this is the path to take, they’ve removed upgrade paths for all but those upgrading to every single version. In other words, if you have CS3 or CS4 you can’t get a discount to upgrade to CS6…but you can get reduced intro pricing to Creative Cloud.

Okay, by now you’re saying to yourself, “I thought this was a look head.” It is, but I just wanted to paint a picture of the present so you can get an idea of what I think it might take to get everyone moving toward Creative Cloud.

So, what do I think it will take to get everyone to Creative Cloud?

It’s already obvious where Adobe wants us to head and they’ve made no secret about it. Creative Cloud is not the future, it’s the present and I fully expect Adobe to explore ways to motivate their customers to move to a Creative Cloud membership. How might they go about that? I figure they need to give a little and take a little. Here are some possibilities.

Take Aways:

Upgrade pricing

Think about it. Until a few years ago there was no limit on the upgrade path. You could be 8 versions out of date and Adobe would be more than happy to sell you an upgrade. Then it became three versions back and finally they’ve moved to one.

This would not be unprecedented. Intuit did this with Quicken and Quickbooks several years ago and Microsoft did it beginning with Office 2010. There’s nothing to stop Adobe from doing it.

Choices

There were at one time six choices for suite purchases; Design Premium, Design Standard, Web Premium, Web Standard, Production Premium and Master Collection. That’s now down to four with Design and Web Premium, Design Standard, Production Premium and Master Collection.

It would not surprise me to see Design Standard eliminated next. Combined with lack of upgrade pricing Adobe would be down to three SKUs from 18 (six versions with full price, six with one version back upgrade, and six with two or three version back upgrade. That’s a lot less bookkeeping so it makes perfect sense from a business stand point.

Single application availability

I don’t think this is going to go away completely but let’s take a look a the closest thing out there to Creative Suite and that’s Microsoft Office. While Microsoft does sell (or offers for sale) Outlook, Word, PowerPoint and Excel, raise your hand if you know anyone that’s bought just one of those applications individually.

The price for single Adobe Creative Suite applications is already so high I don’t know too many people buying them, either. Case in point, a single user license for InDesign is $700.

Give Backs:

Lower academic pricing

As the old saying goes, “start ’em young.” The regular price for academic licenses is $29.99/month and Adobe is currently running a special offer for students and teachers to sign up for $19.99/month for the first year. I can’t see any reason not to make that the regular price. That’s a big population that would know nothing about buying perpetual licenses and would likely continue to subscribe to a commercial membership upon graduation.

More storage

Currently, users get 20 gigabytes of storage. That needs to be raised to 100 gigabytes. That’s the amount of storage Dropbox users get for $9.99/month. Drop Dropbox and put that toward a subscription to Creative Cloud. Storage is cheap. Creative Cloud Team subscribers already get 100 gigs. This seems like an obvious addition.

InCopy

This is more a pet peeve than anything else but it does make sense. It’s the only application not included in Creative Cloud and it belongs there. I think it will happen.

Unlimited Business Catalyst sites

Right now Creative Cloud user can create five sites with Muse and host them via Business Catalyst. Most users probably wouldn’t take advantage of this anyway so why not use it as an enticement for those that would? I’m 50/50 on whether we’ll see this but again, for the web professional, this would be one reason to sign up.

Connect Account

It’s all about collaboration, right? Why not throw in a Connect account?

Conclusion

At some point down the road I can see the entire thing going subscription only as buying becomes a less and less attractive.

I’ve been thinking about this for a while because it comes up often in conversations and I figured I might as well go out on a limb and make a few predictions. Will all of this happen right away? Doubtful, but gradually over the course of  two to three years? Very possible. Of course, none of this may happen and someone will find this post in a google search 3 years from now. [note to self: remember to turn off commenting if none of this comes to pass]

So, what about you? Are you a Creative Cloud member? If not, why not? I already know the arguments about renting vs buying but would any of the things I mentioned here change your mind? If not, what would?

Disclaimer: As an Adobe Community Professional, I have a complimentary Creative Cloud membership.

 

 

83 Comments

  1. Hi Bob!
    As a freelancer in Guatemala I’d love to get my hands on a subscription from the Creative Cloud. In fact, I wouldn’t hesitate. The only way for me to upgrade to CS6 is to buy the entire Master Collection in DVD/Download install. That’s way too much for me as a one-woman-operation business to take all at once. With the Subscription package would be much easier, as it’s an affordable $50 monthly fee. Adobe still has no answer on availability, and as I stand, there are many other designers, photographers, advertising agencies, newspapers and creative professionals that are just waiting for the subscription to become available here to ump in the wagon.

    • Hi Kitty:
      Please recheck with the Adobe Resellers in your country and ask about the Creative Cloud for Teams.
      Posiblemente en ITEMS o Betancourt te puedan ayudar. Sino no los encuentras me pones un correo y te ayudo.
      Greetings from Costa Rica.

  2. Hi Kitty.

    Yeah, they really need to get the international stuff straightened out. Between the seriously high price for perpetual licenses and the non-availability of Creative Cloud, they’re losing out revenue.

  3. I’ve been using Adobe products religiously since CS2, but the Creative Cloud storage is one product I am now forced to avoid. The reason is because archives files must be manually deleted…. so far today I’ve dedicated over six hours to deleting files because there’s no way to select all and delete all. All files in the archive must be manually deleted — I can select all on a page, but that becomes a very time consuming and extremely frustrating experience.

      • > Are you doing that online or locally via finder or explorer?

        Yes to all of the above.

        Actions Taken:

        1. Joined Creative Cloud, copied files into Creative Cloud area on C: drive.
        2. Linked Dreamweaver to site files within Creative Cloud C: drive
        3. Locally installed and deleted thousands of web files on Creative Cloud C: drive.
        4. Creative Cloud automatically synced local files to https://creative.adobe.com Files area.
        5. After an estimated two months of adding and deleting files on Creative Cloud C: drive, the C: drive folder was at 8.5 GB and Creative Cloud produced an “out of storage space” warning.
        6. Inspecting the https://creative.adobe.com Archive revealed thousands of files needed to be manually deleted to free up space so that files could sync from Creative Cloud C: drive to https://creative.adobe.com Files.

        And the process of deleting all of those files the archive did not delete took just over a very frustrating and painful 7 hours to do it manually.

        Recommended Steps to Duplicate:

        1. In a clean (empty) Creative Cloud area on C: Drive, create about 7 unique folders and unzip a copy of WordPress into each. Then to wp-content/plugins, unzip and add about 15 plugins into each unique directory.
        2. Allow Creative Cloud to sync to the online storage.
        3. Delete about 6 folders on the local C: drive.
        4. Allow Creative Cloud to sync.
        5. Inspect the online Creative Cloud Files area and Archive.
        5a. If desired files have not disappeared from Creative Cloud Files, select each one and Archive.
        6. Open the Archive.
        7. Use the Select All checkbox to select all files.
        8. Permanently delete them.
        9. Once the deletion process is complete, refresh the browser.
        10. Do files remain to be permanently deleted? If so, repeat Step 7-9.

        It seems that the Archive only populates about 30 files when it is opened. It’s possible to add additional files by scrolling down to the bottom of the page, but that only adds about another 30 files. At first I scrolled down and added about 1,500 files and deleted them, but that deletion process took the server a long time to complete. Then I scrolled down several times and added about 3,600 files to be deleted, and that took the server even longer to complete. Then I scrolled down enough times to add just over 4,600 files, and repeated the wait time for the server to complete its deletion process. After that round it was about 3,000 files that remained to be manually deleted through this process, and eventually they were all deleted — but it was it an extremely painful 7-hour process.

        Recommended Solution:

        Add a “Permanently Delete All Files in the Archive” button.

  4. Re: http://forums.adobe.com/message/5056950#5056950

    Based on my experience expressed in the above link in the Adobe forums, Adobe has no interest in hearing what I had to say about this experience, at all. A phone call to tech support advised me my wait time would be at least 2 hours before I could speak to a representative, and then the Chat support simply referred me to “a host of technical documentation” on the web in the support area and the support chat… when I asked more about the setup and how to delete all archived files, I was advised in a very frank manner that Adobe Creative Cloud “doesn’t do that” (paraphrased into my own words).

    • If I run across any information on this, I’ll let you know. But in fairness, right now the sync feature is still listed as “preview” but it still should work by deleting files locally according to this:


      What is Creative Cloud Connection preview?

      Creative Cloud Connection preview is an app that runs on your computer. It allows you to easily manage your files on Creative Cloud. It doesn’t require using the Creative Cloud website to upload or download files.

      Once installed, it creates a local folder on your computer whose content match everything stored on your account on the Creative Cloud Files page. When first launched, the app downloads any files you had previously uploaded to Creative Cloud. From there, the app automatically syncs content between the two when running. Any files or folders you place into the sync folder locally are automatically uploaded to Creative Cloud website. And, files removed locally are automatically removed online (the same is true in reverse.)

      I’ll see if I can find anything out.

      • As I mentioned, I have religiously used Adobe since CS2. In my opinion, each time they have released an upgrade, the interface has become more intuitive and the software was improved with features that simplified regular tasks and features that made it even more powerful than the previous… and to offer some supportive feedback about Creative Cloud in general, I love the subscription feature that allows access to the most current edition and love the fact that I don’t have to manage a copy of the installation disk or software on my machines.

        I certainly don’t want to go back to the old way of storing or installing software, and the cloud concept is excellent — but the product team needs to begin thinking outside of their cubicle as far as file management is concerned.

        I am very grateful for your support in this matter.

        Good luck.

  5. I have my doubts about purchasing Adobe Creative Cloud, mainly because the price difference is immense between what you pay in America and what I would pay here in the Netherlands. $ 30 in U.S. and € 37 here (that’s almost $ 50) for the first year. After the first year, I’ll pay over $ 82 in the Netherlands compared to $ 50 in the U.S.. That makes quite a difference, and I wonder what the theory behind that is. Adobe must realize that in a global economy such price differences are a little ridiculous.

  6. Hi Bob. The main thing that’s kept me from going to Creative Cloud is the situation created by only allowing upgrades from 1 previous version – which is silly since that’s likely a policy that was meant to do the opposite. For instance, if I try out CC with the low 1st year rate, but then find I’m unable to keep up with the $50/month rate (or more of a concern – whatever rate Adobe decides to change it to in the future), am I stuck? Is there no cross-grade path back from the Cloud to the Master Collection if it becomes more than 1 version behind?

    • But if I had CS5 and the current version is CS7, and I can only upgrade from CS6, I’m stuck with purchasing a new non-upgrade Master Collection or staying with CC regardless of what they decide to change the price to, right? Just using the old CS5 applications isn’t an option anymore if you’ve been using CC and saving everything in the current version… couldn’t even open my existing files.

    • Bob
      Can you clarify the following for me.
      If I join creative cloud and download CS6, but decide that after a year I no longer can afford the cost – do I still keep full use of CS6?

    • So I guess my “what would it take” answer would be, give a clear and reasonable policy for later leaving the cloud and retaining my existing software investment. For instance, allow lowest upgrade pricing from older CS versions after 12 months (or whatever) of CC membership. The pricing being offered now seems very reasonable, but that doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to stay that way, and I wouldn’t want to be trapped with a monthly payment I couldn’t afford and no fall-back options.

  7. @Stephen, for wish list items and feature requests for future releases, the best place to submit (that the engineers read) is http://adobe.com/go/wish

    @Jacco, just a note on US pricing vs. International – make sure to compare apples-to-apples by taking out the large VAT overseas vs. that pre-tax price in the U.S. – there’s still a difference but it becomes smaller.

    Finally @Bob, nice post and congrats on your new blog… Like the clean look and layout too.

  8. Yes, nice blog…
    For me, it would be Adobe releasing a method of subscription/updates that works in Enterprise.
    We cannot let 50 users update themselves willy-nilly whenever Adobe pushed an update.
    We need a way to manage that with one admin controlling everyone’s updates, ideally being able to push them out with Apple Desktop remote or Managed Software update.
    Our corporate policy prevents end-users from having admin rights, so the Cloud idea does not work for us.
    IF we were ever to want to store documents in Adobe’s cloud, they would need to be securely encrypted (maybe they are?)

    Philosophically, I am opposed to renting software in general — I want to buy it once and be done.
    I am very leery of these “wonderful” prices and want guarantees that Adobe will not hold us for ransom once there is no “buy it” option. Also, it is highly likely that at some point I will have no need for Adobe subscription, when I retire or when Adobe gets de-throwned by another more nimble company — and I would hate to loose access to all my old docs.

  9. @Stephen – You’re right, probably because the tool you’re referring to is the Creative Cloud Connection, which is less than 3 months old and still only a ‘Preview’ version… But for these purposes, if you selected the general “Creative Suite” product on the dropdown menu, your feedback would probably find its way to the right place.

    @Bret – Bob is spot on, and for enterprises you may also find this article helpful:

    Using Adobe’s IT tools to deploy Creative Cloud for teams

    Lastly, on the idea voiced a couple times above that Adobe would plan to get everybody hooked on the cloud and then raise prices for ransom, we think that’s just one of the Creative Cloud myths… but naturally everyone is entitled to an opinion.

  10. Bob,
    I’m a long time Adobe customer who’s switched to Master Collection when CS4 came out (even if I use 80% Photoshop, 15% Flash Builder and 5% few other apps) and I’ve upgraded ever since. I don’t have subscribed to the CC and I won’t, as long as I’ll be given the opportunity – since you asked, here is the why (sorry for the long writing!):

    Factors pushing customers to fully embrace the SaaS paradigm, as you’ve outlined in your post, fall either into “Adobe restrictions” or “Adobe bonuses” categories. Among the former (restrictions), I would list smaller bundles no more for sale, single apps subscription price way too high compared to the CC (which is a way to look at the whole price-list from a different POV), monthly fees for CC absurdly higher compared to annual subscription (50 bucks per month compared to 75 bucks per month, which is +50%! That is to say: monthly subscription is not an actual option for customers), and, for those who care about them, apps that are available via CC only. On the other hand Adobe offers (bonuses): a lot of softwares, services, point updates on a year basis and major updates every two years (with possibly something else in between).

    As far as I’m concerned (being quite PS-centric) that apps bonanza isn’t appealing to me (and is frankly oversized to many), I would stick to a smaller Suite if possible even if in the good times when budget was higher I entered in the Master Collection. Point updates (this is my personal opinion) proved to be deluding – few features, new bugs – and did leave me with the impression to be on a constantly running beta-cycle. And, I admit, the SaaS paradigm doesn’t fit my needs nor my attitude: as an extensions developer I’ve to keep up-to-date, but as a user (like many other colleagues involved in professional retouching and post-production) we don’t upgrade a stable, robust version just because of a +1000 icons redesign and a darker GUI. This means that the price of a MC purchase is well paid, since it will last for sure the 2 years that would balance the CC subscription cost, and possibly more. And if better times (financially speaking) won’t come, I will always keep using my software and make my living with it. Conversely, no monthly payments, no CC, bye bye lunch.

    So to answer your question, as far as I’m personally concerned, I would enter the CC when no any other option is practically available.

  11. I agree with Davide.

    I too am a well seasoned Adobe vet. I’ve also never found the need to upgrade each and every version of CS just to get a few shortcuts and interface upgrades, especially when you can build your own scripts. In fact, I stopped purchasing the master suite after CS3 because it wasn’t worth the upgrade fee for software I didn’t use as much. Plus, keeping both CS3 MC and CS6 DP on one machine hardly dampers my system resources. So being asked to pay $50 monthly, ($600 annually) multiplied by 3 or 4 years between my average necessity to upgrade… I would end up paying the same, or more for just the privilege to “borrow” the software rather than own my own license. And, that’s quite fine with me considering I can actually have the tangible product in hand.

    Since first hearing about the CC, all I could see was the math and the cost of non-ownership racking up. For a software corp. of Adobe’s size and dominance in a near-monopoly of designer market share, bringing the cost down to $25-30/mo would truly gain more enthusiasm from new-comers and vets. Otherwise, we’re being allured to “updated features” that are admittedly low priority to professionals, or simply over inflated cloud service fees compared to other cloud storage or meeting connect services.

    Also keep in mind, for those who do have fluctuating financials, or even unexpected emergency costs that eat into their cost-of-living or operating costs, you WILL feel the harsh inconvenience if you default on your subscription and step back in time to your previous license after the 3rd or 4th major upgrade. Especially when trying to open those new file versions in previous suites.

    I would give it time, see what Adobe’s next big move will be before jumping into the trend pool that they are hoping and drooling for.

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  13. Hi Bob, hi everyone.

    Some days ago I posted a heated post out of anger at the Creative Cloud file management system, in particular the way it required files to be deleted.

    I reported the problem through the Bug Reporting system, and it seems Adobe took swift action to remedy the situation. At the time of my report, Creative Cloud only selected about one small page worth of files (about 36 or so), requiring the user to manually scroll down to make additional files populate in the browser window — it took me about 7 hours to delete the several thousand files that had not been deleted in my Creative Cloud area. That was before Adobe corrected the problem.

    Now, when files are deleted from Creative Cloud, either on the local drive or in the cloud storage area, the files are moved to an Archive area where the user can quickly select all files in the archive, and delete the files with a single click of the trashcan.

    Adobe corrected the problem, and as far as I’m concerned, all is well (except that Captivate and InCopy are not included in the CC membership, but that’s another issue…)

    Bob, thanks for helping out. I’m certain your voice helped expedite the situation.

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  15. I’m a long-time Adobe Creative Suite user but I have absolutely no interest in the Creative Cloud as it’s set up right now. First of all, it’s simply way too expensive. $600/year (after the first year) means I’m paying $1,200 every two years which is the normal time between Creative Suite upgrades. That’s a LOT more than the $700 upgrade price I’ve been paying.

    What would it take to get me to upgrade? Adobe could offer tiers of Creative Cloud subscriptions. (I suspect very few people use the entire Master collection.) What if they offered any 7 applications for $29.99/month or any 5 applications for $19.99/month (along with limited access to the other services and iPad apps in a full CC subscription). I would seriously consider the $19.99/month option. I really only NEED InDesign, Photoshop, Acrobat and Illustrator. From there, I could choose something like Flash or Dreamweaver depending on my needs. $120/year isn’t too bad. Users would have to commit to sticking with the apps they choose for the entire year but can select different apps when they renew.

      • 12 months? Since when? Does that mean CS7 is coming out in May or are you referring to a “.5” upgrade, as in CS6.5?

      • It means the next version of Creative Suite will be available before summer based on the 12-month cycle announced about two years ago. And in case you missed this, too, upgrade pricing is only available for one version back, meaning there’s no way to skip versions anymore and still get upgrade pricing.

      • Bob,
        could you please clarify your comment to Scott Boucher question?
        I may be wrong (actually, reading what you’ve written: apparently I am) but I thought the annual cycle was: CS6, CS6.5, CS7, CS7.5 etc. and with “one version back” as the prerequisite for upgrades, I thought “one major version”. Which is just slightly different, isn’t it?
        If this is not the case (that is: summer will be CS7, and as a CS6 user I must upgrade) I’m afraid the whole article you’ve written lost any sense, because the answer to “what will it take to move to CC?” would be “nothing, we’re simply forced to do it”.
        Kind regards,
        Davide

      • I’m simply going on everything I’ve read in press releases especially during financial releases. I’m sorry, but I don’t have any links handy to show you. All I can tell you is that it would be wise to keep an eye on things to avoid being left in the dust like the CS3 and CS4 users who are just now finding out they can’t upgrade anymore.

      • Based on the most recent release of CS6, you won’t have to own CS6.5 in order to upgrade to CS7. We didn’t have 5.5 but were offered upgrade pricing for 6. My guess is that the release coming up this summer will be CS6.5. Hopefully Adobe won’t require everyone to make that “mini” upgrade in order to be eligible for the CS7 upgrade.

      • As I said, stay tuned. I will definitely have a blog post on any relevant news so keep an eye on the blog. If you haven’t already, you can subscribe if you’d like.

  16. I’m primarily an InDesign user, and when InDesign overtook Quark XPress as the standard, I and other designers cheered, because we were sick of Quark’s high prices (e.g., Passport), crazy-making install/registration process, and abysmal customer support, usually involving a call center in India. Since that time, Adobe has steadily become more and more like that which they have usurped. At work we are still on CS5.5, at home I use CS3, and nobody I know has any plans to migrate to a subscription-based service. As far as replacement apps, I don’t see going back to Quark XPress as being that advantageous, but I know a few Photoshop users who are switching to apps like Pixelmator which fit their needs just fine.

    • If Quark were smart, they would jump all over this opportunity and offer Indesign users a great price to switch. At the very least, it might make Adobe nervous enough to rework their Creative Cloud plans.

  17. What will it take to move everyone over to the cloud? Much more than Adobe is willing to give.

    For starters how about better customer service so that when PAID UP cloud members in Australia can’t access their software they don’t have to sit on the phone for AN HOUR waiting their turn to talk to the {Un}Help Desk who then just move them into another cue.

    How about being honest and transparent about your pricing policies and structures, not waffling on about totally unrelated BS when called up to a Parliamentary Enquiry before the Australia Government.

    Oh and how about answering emails and questions posted by users instead of ignoring them.

    Basically this is NOTHING Adobe can do to move everyone to the Cloud because Adobe has trashed it’s reputation and proved to be only concerned about squeezing as much money out of it’s customer as possible.

    You will never get everyone to move to the cloud because quite frankly we refuse to go.

  18. I am not a professional photographer. Photography is my retirement hobby. I only use Photoshop and Lightroom. I do not want to take on a $30 monthly charge. I will not be updating to new versions of Photoshop if I can only do so through the cloud. In fact, updating from CS5 to CS6 did not really get me anything that I didn’t already have, except that printing has become a problem now.

  19. i have been a user since 5.0…. i currently use cs5 and have no intentions on buying in on the “cloud”. I think this is a mistake that will cost them in the long run and i hope it does..if your screw your customers over at least they should have the option of how to be screwed…i can do anything i need to with my current version and do not even have a problem of upgrades, but i will not be forced into a monthly rental fee for something i don’t even own…..i will purchase third party software to fill any gaps i run into in the future… i think adobe is starting down a self destructive path forcing this upon it’s customers.

    • I think it’s interesting that every time someone from Adobe mentions Creative Cloud, they talk about what a huge success it’s been and make it sound like their customers are super enthusiastic about it. Yet, I’ve never seen any data about the actual number of subscribers or even the percentage of Creative Suite customers have switched. If the numbers were as impressive as they try to make them sound, why not provide that information. I suppose there’s an argument to be made about not wanting to reveal competitive market information but it’s also possible that they’re trying to convince current customers that CC is becoming the clear trend in the industry thereby influencing their decision making. They wouldn’t be the first company to attempt such tactics but that doesn’t make it any less unsavory.

      • You’re right, Bob. Those numbers do sound impressive. (I don’t normally troll the press release section of the Adobe web site so I must have missed that announcement.) Given the marketing push Adobe has given Creative Cloud, I’m not surprised they’ve gotten so many people to give it a try. I think the real question is how many people will stick with it once they see those monthly bills add up over time. I certainly could be wrong but I will be surprised if Adobe doesn’t start seeing a significant amount of churn with subscribers. Time will tell. Personally, I want Adobe to succeed but not by taking advantage of their loyal customers. Reasonable people can debate whether or not their recent pricing decisions and push towards subscriptions constitutes “taking advantage of customers” but given the number of people who have submitted negative comments on here and other forums I’ve read, I think it’s safe to say there are more than a few who share my concerns. In fact, I would be curious as to your intentions when deciding to write this blog post. Since Creative Cloud has been so successful, why would you write a blog titled “What will it take to move everyone to Creative Cloud?” I’m not suggesting that you had any sinister reasons but it does seem to suggest a certain level of concern that more people aren’t signing up. Maybe I’m reading too much into it but I would love to hear what your thoughts were when you decided to write this post.

    • I guess Roy has touched an important point I’ve recently been discussing with a colleague of mine (an InDesign consultant, I’m on the Photoshop side), i.e. “fill gaps”. Adobe, as a company, wants to spread, which is obvious, and it’s OK: it already has the monopoly of professional businesses in several fields (PS, ID, etc) and is getting a prominent position in ones that historically are weaker (video, for instance). The appeal Adobe has to professionals drive, no doubts, the bigger mass of customers, namely pro-amateurs, or amateurs tout-court – who (and this has always happened even before of the digital era, think about photography and camera gears) look at their idols work and want the tools their using.
      Now, Adobe is willing to strengthen its position among this vast population of users. On one side, its recent policies on upgrades, products offer and prices, etc. is somehow annoying long time professional users, as we see from comments here. On the other side Creative Cloud, as one-BIG-size-fits-all offer is more and more unsuitable to that vast amount of potential customers Adobe wants to reach. Frankly, as some pro-amateurs told me: who cares about Fonts for the web, Flash Professional, Speedgrade, Audition. They just need few powerful yet flexible, agile applications – not the 800 pounds gorillas. Which may be fine for the high-end professional users, not for the mass Creative Cloud appears to be targeted to. So I’m convinced (this is my personal, possibly wrong, opinion) that small softwarehouses, more and more in the future, will “fill the gaps” left by CreativeClouds droppers; in a cheaper, smaller, more flexible way.
      Digital Publishing Suite case (just to name one) is emblematic. Fantastic possibilities, theoretically phenomenal for the high end pro users (Time magazine & C.), but frankly, totally overkill for those who “just” wants to publish ebooks. By the way, the fact that DPS outputs “apps” and not “books” makes you enter the russian roulette of Apple approval system (as notable cases has shown). Apps can’t be books on disguise (I’ve written about it here), otherwise Apple will reject them – books must be either iBooks (built with iBooks Author) or ePub, so the whole point of DPS dramatically disappears. iBooksAuthor it’s an inferior choice maybe, less customizable maybe, but as a smaller, cheaper (free), easier piece of software kicks InDesign + AppBuilder DPS system’s ass in terms of flexibility. Unless you’ve the budget, the time to go through the learning curves, the skills, and the absolute need to use DPS – which IMHO the mass of users Creative Clouds appears to be targeted to simply lacks.
      So recently Adobe seems to have missed two crucial points: please (or at least not irk) pro users, and suit pro-amateurs. Why? Shantanu Narayen appeared very focused on SaaS paradigm shift few years ago, is this just a natural consequence? I can’t say.

      (Thanks Bob to have provided us a place where we can express freely our critic thoughts! I really appreciate)

  20. Nothing sinister, Scott. This has come up so many times in conversations that I figured I’d write something up and see if I could get some banter going here. It is a very new blog and to be honest I never thought this article would get this kind of attention. There’s quite a lengthy thread on LinkedIn, too.

    But, I do disagree with your statement about taking advantage of loyal customers. Loyal customers are those that don’t skip versions, IMO. Those people will wind up spending way less with Creative Cloud and still have the option to continue upgrading…at least for a little while.

    • Quite frankly, I’m glad you decided to start this conversation. (There’s a similar discussion happening on the Grid) Given the number of responses, people seem to have strong opinions.

      We may have to agree to disagree about what constitutes a “loyal customer”. In my opinion, it’s Adobe’s responsibility to develop upgrades that are compelling enough to make their users feel like they HAVE to upgrade to get access to all the cool new features. I suspect you would find more than a few Adobe customers opine that CS4 was simply not worth the money. CS6 , on the other hand, has been a fantastic upgrade, at least in my opinion. The loyalty part comes in when users decide to stick with Adobe rather than switch to a competitor even when some of the upgrades are less than stellar. Now, in all honesty, Adobe has a tremendous competitive advantage by having built such a strong, integrated suite of applications that work so well together. There simply isn’t another developer out there that can challenge their overall lineup. That said, people could switch to Quark for design/layout or Corel for vector and/or photo editing or any number of smaller tools for web development. Granted, it’s probably not the best solution but it could be done. I would prefer to stick with Adobe. In fact, I would like to become a Creative Cloud customer, just not the way it’s currently constituted. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I really like the idea of a tiered setup that doesn’t force me into an all-or-nothing choice for more money than I’m comfortable spending. I honestly believe it could be a win for Adobe and their customers.

    • One other comment I forgot include in my last post…the more I think about it 1 million subscribers, I’m assuming that’s worldwide, doesn’t sound like all that much. How does that compare to the number of traditional licenses that have been purchased? Also, when you consider how many more people Adobe could be bringing in if they were to lower the cost of entry, it starts to look even smaller. Maybe my expectations are off but, given the global popularity of Adobe products, 1 million seems kind of tame.

      • I think we’ll have to go with the agree to disagree, Scott. One million subs in less than a year is impressive, IMO, and it certainly went beyond what Adobe had hoped for.

        But I do appreciate your point of view and it will be interesting to see how things develop over the next year or two.

      • Adobe historically has sold about 3 million CS units per year globally. The 1 million number represents CC members for a little over 6 months, running from late May (first availability) through their fiscal year end in November.

      • Does that 3 million CS units sold include upgrades or is that just new purchases? If that’s new purchases and upgrades then yeah, 1 million CC subscribers in such a short time is impressive. Still, how many of those subscribers took advantage of the reduced rate for the first year and how many are stidents who are eligible for reduced rates? I ask because I don’t think the key question is how many people have decided to give it a try but how many stick with it once they start paying the full rate. I suspect there are more than a few folks at Adobe wondering the same thing.

      • The 3 million units/year is everything, all CS sales. Adobe execs say they are not particularly worried about continuation after the first year because they believe the value is compelling and will only increase being so.

  21. Surely the answer to the question “What will it take to move everyone to CC…?” is “When it’s a win:win situation for both Adobe and users”. At the moment it isn’t. Adobe win by getting a month-on-month payment from every customer that signs up. Those customers are told they are winning by having access to the whole collection (well, almost) but they lose because:
    (a) they are signing up to paying Adobe “rent” for the software for as long as they want to use it, even if they have a bad business period and income falls off;
    (b) they are making themselves subject to upgrades and modifications to the software when *Adobe* wants it, not when they do;
    (c) they are subject to whatever pricing Adobe sees fit to charge, and there is no way back once you have signed up;
    (d) if they have a perpetual license, they forfeit that as once you sign up to the Coud, you cannot go back, (as I understand it) and
    (e) there is the permanent risk that software will become unusable if, even for legitimate technical reasons, you cannot connect at an appropriate time to the licensing servers to continue your use of the software.

    That’s far removed from a win:win situation, in my view, but there could be various ways in which it could be made more equitable.

    1. Give some assurance that perpetual licenses will NOT be withdrawn, so that people are be relaxed in the knowledge that they won’t be forced to switch.
    2 Allow perpetual licence users to skip a version.
    3. Reduce the pricing for CC options. Once the first-year teaser price goes up, Adobe are getting you to pay at least 600 dollars/pounds annual rental for the use of the suite. That will inevitably rise, and sooner rather than later.They could reintroduce the suites with a sliding scale of rental, so if someone only wants Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Acrobat (i.e. the old Design suite) then they could pay (say) 25 dollars/pounds a month (even less for just one major app such as Photoshop). Make it the same for the Production Suite, then a higher price for the whole Master Collection.
    4. Have a “step-off” point whereby, if a user has been a CC subscriber for at least one year, he/she can make a one-off payment and keep the software running at whatever point it is then, no more upgrades or tweaks, but their CC subscription moves to a perpetual EULA.

    • Good comments, Simon but not totally accurate.

      a) that could be said for anything rented, and I would still go out on a limb and say that if income falls off so dramatically that you can’t afford $50/month you are going to be looking at much more serious problems.

      b)Incorrect. You are under no obligation to install updates. They are made available but not forced on anyone.

      c)Correct, but if you look at Adobe historically this is not the way they do business and is, quite honestly, something I don’t even think about.

      d)AFAIK, nothing happens to the perpetual license you have now.

      e)That happens even with perpetual licenses so it’s not really a factor here.

  22. Well I think we could debate some of these points ad infinitum but the underlying problem with CC is the lack of choice for the user. It’s a “take it or leave it” attitude and seems to force the user into a business and delivery model which many don’t like for a variety of reasons. It’s not a healthy or caring customer attitude from Adobe, IMO.

    • Here are my responses to a couple of posts from above…

      I have no doubt that Adobe execs have said they’re not worried about continuation after the first year. Then again what other kind of public statement would you expect them to make “We’re absolutely terrified of what’s going to happen when all thise first year subscribers see their subscriptions go from $360 to $600.” I hardly think they would share such concerns even if they had them.

      As for Simon’s contention that Adobe has adopted a take it or leave attitude, I suspect they would respond by pointing out that they are stilll offering regular licenses for purchase. However, when it comes to CC specifically, it really is all or nothing.

  23. I don’t think anyone would debate the all or nothing approach to Creative Cloud, but there is certainly a lot of software and service packed into it for what is a very low price (yes, I know, that’s the big debate), IF you need it. To me, the fact that everything is included gives many people the opportunity to use and learn applications that in the past they would not have thought to explore.

    This why I think it’s especially enticing to students who are just starting to decide what direction to go in and can buy into Creative Cloud for what even the biggest critics should be able to agree is next to nothing when compared to other costs.

    From Adobe’s standpoint, having as an all or nothing approach cuts down on administration. There’s only one SKU. You’re either a subscriber or you’re not.

    • Absolutely agree that CC is a no brainer for students. Also agree it’s a great deal IF you actually need all those apps. But I think that’s what is upsetting the rest of Adobe customers who don’t fall into those two categories. Yes, we understand that offering different tiers of service would be more work but, if that’s what your customers want, doesn’t it make financial sense to make that happen? Even with the relative success so far, two-thirds of your customers aren’t buying in yet. Personally, I think this summer is going to be a big turning point one way or the other. If all those first year subscribers sign back up for year two and they keep adding more on top of them, Adobe will have little incentive to offer different levels. If the opposite happens and people start dropping off, we may see some movement.

  24. As I’ve already said, you never know who might be reading this so keep the comments coming. I don’t think the management at Adobe is so closed-minded to ignore enough noise and I also think that it’s very important to keep in mind how new this is, not just to users but also to Adobe.

    They’ve been making adjustments as they go (extending the intro offer, adding Lightroom, etc) to make Creative Cloud more enticing.

    It wouldn’t hurt to contact Adobe directly, either, but should you do so, it would be beneficial to state WHY changes are needed to the offering, not just what you think it should be.

    • Bob, since you brought it up, what is the best way to contact Adobe to ensure we’ll be heard?

      Also, I agree with your point about Adobe making adjustments. They did the same thing with DPS as well. Everyone complained that it was too expensive for small firms so they added a single use version.

      I think it’s important to keep in mind that one of the reasons so many of complain is that we love our Adobe products and really want to keep using them.

      • The company also reviews feedback left online through the official Feature Request/Bug Report Form: http://www.adobe.com/go/wish. There isn’t a cloud category there yet but you could probably just use “Creative Suite.”

        But, the new model is not entirely all-or-nothing… While it doesn’t get as much publicity, Adobe also offers Single-App Memberships that cost much less than the full Creative Cloud.

        So there is already precedent on offering more choice, which sounds like what you’re angling for.

      • $19.99/month for a single app might appeal to a very small number of people but even those that would never use all of the Creative Cloud (me, for example) are, for the most part, going to want more than one app and at that point getting the whole thing makes way more sense.

  25. Pingback: Adobe Quietly Confirms the End of Boxed Creative Suite Software Sales | BobLevine.usBobLevine.us

  26. Let me I bought 4 seats of CS1.5 and now am a non clowd -CS6 user, over 6 seats of CS4 cs 5.5 and now one of CS6. Nothing about this makes me feel warm and fuzzy. I can tell you so little has changed since CS2 that I could run my business with that no problem. Why do I keep updating? So I can stay current with clients and OS and hardware has changes

    I have watched many great companies go from great-very good-good to bad. At one time Abobe was Great now they are hovering on the good to ok. All it takes is one bad stock year and they will look to grab more cash from us, this will not be for a huge move forward but to please stock holders. At one time Abode was forward thinking and was driven to be the best. Competition forced it and the vision of it leaders had that drive and mindset. Today the board and CEO are number onemoney driven, look at the major influencers background.

    I cringe at each new bloated update. Poorly written code pushed out the door to meet artificial upgrade dead lines. Pallets, keystrokes and functions moved and renamed with if we are lucky some small improvements just to justify calling it a new upgrade.

    So now my view on why I want two have my own software… no matter who makes it.

    The cloud; Nothing to worry about, nothing can go wrong?

    Ops so far Google, Amazon and Microsoft have gone down. It can never happen to Adobe right? No deadline will ever be missed right as something anything fails?

    Adobe will never raise the costs right? I have two software programs that cost about what CS does they guarantee users to never raise costs after the full purchase on the upgrades and subscriptions. Why not Adobe?, They do raise them on new users but your locked in when you buy, rewarding long time customers. Unlike EFI that has raised fees over 100% and did a never before upgrade charge for a non upgrade. Who do you think Adobe will model?

    You will never ever miss a payment, right? Never once in your whole career have you not had a hard time with money and NEVER will again right? My brother is about undergo heart transplant tell him it can never happen. No way you or family member will every lose a job or have cancer and even $50 bucks a month is not doable? Clue it will not be $50 in 3 years…5 years Anyone can keep going with CS4 or 5.5 (CS6 also if you buy not subscribe) until things turn around for you, not if your locked out and cannot access your program or files.

    Your CC will never expire or be stolen or your identity hacked right?

    No one will ever hack Adobe and no country would launch a cyber-war on the USA by taking down a major company like Adobe right?

    For anyone who thinks it can never ask goggle, amazon, CNN and microsoft.

    http://gigaom.com/2013/02/03/this-week-in-cloud-office-365-goes-down-and-mic
    rosoft-stocks-up-azure-store/

    • The “bloated update” point is a good one. Our office is running CS5.5 on Macs, and I routinely run into UI bugs with InDesign (e.g., switching to Finder doesn’t switch focus from INDD). Nobody in my company will use Acrobat X Pro because it’s such a terrible implementation. 9 is fine for us. Think about that: if the previous version is deemed better, you won’t have the privilege of not updating in the CC.

      • Upgrades and updates are made available immediately but they are optional.

        Nobody is forcing anyone to upgrade or install updates

      • Noticed in a press release about Adobe adjusting their financial projections (for the better) that the numbers we’ve been tossing around in this discussion aren’t quite accurate. The press release claims Creative Cloud has 500K paid subscribers and over a million when you count the free and trial accounts. Those are still good enough numbers for Adobe to increase their profit projections but I’m still not convinced thie current CC setup will prove successful long term unless they provide a wider range of options.

  27. Creative Cloud or perpetual licence – Adobe has so many of us professional users just where they want us – handing over the cash without choice. I have a perpetual licence, but I’m under no illusion that that gives me the slightest protection against anything.

    What we need, more than anything else, is viable competition.

  28. Scott, the 500K, at least the way I understand it is full priced subs. The rest are on intro pricing ($29.99/month), student pricing, or comp subs such as the free year with MAX attendance.

    Will there be churn? Of course, but they’re now adding subs at a pace of 12,000/week according to the earning statements released yesterday.

  29. @Scott — Further to what Bob said, and quoting earlier:

    “The 1 million number represents CC members for a little over 6 months, running from late May (first availability) through their fiscal year end in November.”

    Well that number has now doubled over the past 3 months, and most Adobe Store customers are now choosing CCM, with CS boxes going away soon, and other major news promised… [Reference]

    • We can go back and forth about our personal belief concerning the viability of Creative Cloud but I think the larger issue is software licensing in general across the industry. As I said in an earlier post, Adobe isn’t the only major vendor going down the path of subscriptions. Office365 comes to mind. It will be interesting in the long run to see how many people actually stay on the subscription model and how many choose to continue purchasing licenses. Either way, Adobe wins since they are now requiring users to keep their licenses current if they want to be eligible for upgrade pricing. I’ll also be interested to see if Adobe will try to kill the sale of license purchasing altogether. Not sure why they would do that but I think it’s something many of us fear.

  30. Pingback: Adobe's Creative Cloud: Perception vs Reality | BobLevine.usBobLevine.us

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What do you think?