Why Creative Cloud Subscription Software is Here to Stay

Adobe has gone all in with Creative Cloud. Do you really understand what that means?

Love it or hate it, Creative Cloud is not going away. It’s time to deal with it.

It’s been more than six months since Adobe announced that it was going to a subscription-only business model for its Creative Suite applications while rebranding them under the Creative Cloud name. Today, there’s still a very vocal group of people blasting Adobe for that decision. I’ve had a few debates (okay, more than a few) about the topic and  I’m using this post to spell out why I believe that those waiting for Adobe to back down and offer perpetual licenses will not get what they want. The post isn’t so much about defending Adobe—though I do think they have a right to run their business any way they see fit—but to explain why I think they moved to this business model and why it won’t be reversed.

The idea for this post started when I was asked why I’m fighting those that are against Adobe and Creative Cloud. The fact is, I’m not fighting anyone or anything; I’m just looking at the reality of the situation and the current climate in the software industry. More choices would, in theory, be better. But in practice those choices would cost Adobe millions of dollars. Two licensing models and thousands of SKUs for suites and individual products doesn’t come cheap and it most certainly doesn’t carry with it a guarantee of any return on that investment.

I’ve read countless complaints about this new business model from people who keep repeating the same thing. They want to be able to decide whether to buy or not. In other words, they want Adobe to spend a fortune to offer something for sale that most of them wouldn’t buy anyway. These are the same people that complain when they do have to buy an upgrade to maintain compatibility with a new operating system, to get a new feature or have some obscure bug fixed.

Here’s a question for you. Where do you suppose all the money that will be needed to support perpetual licenses for suites and individual products will come from when you pass on buying it?

These people (and you know who you are) keep talking about loyalty and what Adobe owes them. In short, they want to dictate the terms of Adobe’s business model, insisting on guarantees on pricing and future ability to open files without continuing their subscription.

Next question, how’s that perpetual license of Pagemaker, Livemotion, PageMill, GoLive, and Freehand working out for you on that shiny new computer?

Conveniently overlooked is the fact that loyalty is a two way street. Buying every third version of Creative Suite Design Standard does not make you a loyal customer; it makes you one of the reasons this move became necessary. Adobe has invested hundreds of millions of dollars developing tools that have allowed many of us to make a living but no company can stay in business making that type of investment without a return on it.

Another question comes to mind: When was the last time Adobe abused its position in the market to gouge its customers?

Adobe is not a company being run by fools. Creative Cloud actually addresses the major complaints users have had for many years. It offers a way to fix bugs, quickly add new features, and maintains compatibility with new operating systems without charging anyone an arm and a leg for upgrades. On the same note, there’s no compatibility issue among users. Everyone’s using the same version.

If you don’t want to subscribe, that’s your right, but stop with the FUD. Adobe is not offering promotions because they’re desperate (every company has promotions to attract new customers). This is not a money grab; they’re not tripling the price after “they have everyone hooked.” They’re not going to sit back and stop innovating. They aren’t holding your files hostage. They are not a monopoly and their management knows full well that if they do any of that there will be a line at the door to get out with any number of competitors ready to take that business away from them.

I’ve been attacked for my opinion on this and been called among other things, a troll, a fanboy, and an apologist (usually anonymously by someone hiding behind a keyboard and a fake name). What I am is a realist. None of us has the right to dictate the way a company does business in a free market economy. We do have the right to switch to other tools and Adobe is well aware of that.

This was a high risk move by Adobe and if the recent numbers (more than one million subscribers [update March 2014: subscriptions are now closing in on two million] with a reported 25,000 or so signing up every week) are any indication they will be reaping some long-term rewards. This is good not only for Adobe, but its customers, as well. With a consistent and predictable cash flow, they should be in a better position to continue developing new tools and services. If they don’t, that exit line will start forming very quickly.

I don’t expect to change any minds, but at least I’ll have something to point to the next time someone asks me why I’m not joining their fight.

Comments are open but please keep it civil.


63 Comments

  1. Well said, I completely understand your point, and I may or may not agree with you, you (and others too) have every right to express your opinion. The problem with the most vocal complainers is that they kind of drown out the, in my eyes, quite reasonable objections. Adobe’s problem is that the market is fully saturated, and they need to sell software to keep alive, the subscription way is their way to do this. They have that right. The main issues for us; the much higher prices outside the US, and plugins, that is not something Adobe does, but it is a deal-breaker.
    For now and the near future we will staying with CS6, but I will keep up-to-date with all developments.

  2. Rather than price increases going forward, we believe that customers should expect continued price decreases from the company as demand-curve elasticity takes off. Adobe has only decreased the prices of their subscription offerings since their introduction several years ago.

    Cut the price in half and triple the unit sales, and everyone wins. It’s hard to argue that the current $10/month price for PS+LR is gouging anyone, as it costs far less than buying/maintaining perpetual licenses ever did and you get more. Software always costs money to keep relevant and running as you point out (nothing is forever), regardless of how it’s licensed.

    In our view, Adobe is finally working towards making their best-in-class tools affordable for everyone – but some still miss the forest for the trees.

      • Yes, Adobe dropped the price of Lightroom 4 by 50% to $149, from $299 previously.

        Addressing the previous comment, pricing overseas is generally higher than the U.S. for many things, but a lot of that is higher tax rates and costs built into the final price you see.

    • I went to your link and did not see the horror stories, where do I go? The hackers got my information which really bothers me. Because of that I was just getting ready to upgrade my CS5.5 (still in the box) and cancel my subscription to CC.

      However what do you do when you want to upgrade in the future? Will they offer newer versions. It doesn’t sound like it. So now what, just leave yourself vulnerable because Adobe hasn’t kept your identity safe? Unfortunately I am always on a deadline and never have time to figure these things out. I only found out about it because I was having trouble opening camera raw images and I went to the site to see what I could do. My password didn’t work and I called them to find out why they were making me create a new password. Were they going to tell me someone had gotten my email and password?

      Holly

      • He won’t be back, Holly. He trolls the Adobe Creative Cloud Facebook page all the time copy/pasting the same stuff over and over again.

        Let me see if I can address some of you questions/concerns.

        1. The hack is very real and quite serious, but let’s keep in mind that Adobe was the victim of crime, too. Adobe is not the first victim of a hack and they sure won’t be the last. Just google “Large companies that have been hacked” and you’ll certainly get a lot of hits with very familiar names.

        2. You should never use the same password on more than one site.

        3. It doesn’t matter if you’re a subscriber or not. Anyone who’s got an Adobe ID is part of this.

        4. I agree that the whole thing was handle in a less than satisfactory way but that’s unfortunately the world we live in now.

        Now let’s look at the future. It’s all addressed in the post. The chances of ever seeing a perpetual license is less than winning the lottery, getting struck by lighting and being attacked by a bear…all in the same day.

        Of course, it’s all your call. If you’re still having problems with your account, send me an email via the contact form and I’ll see if can find someone at Adobe to help you.

      • Thank you for your response Bob, you are always helpful. I hear what your saying about perpetual license but I don’t like it. Especially as I get close to retiring and may not need to update the software any longer. Since I will still want access to any files I have created, especially personal ones. I am guessing that when I do retire I will need to go back to something like Quark (which I was never a fan of). I always wondered what they could possibly do to get back in the market, now I think I know. Especially with a good translator.

        Right now it is an issue because my largest client is still on CS6.00 and I have to stay on the same versions they are using for both InCopy and InDesign. I imagine they will have to change sooner rather than later but it is not my call as to when that will be.

        As far as the hack into my account goes I am less than confident Adobe can keep hackers from getting my credit card information even if it is encrypted. The Adobe personnel I spoke with really had little information on what happened, or why I should feel secure now that password has been changed. The only thing they had going for them is that it was encrypted so I shouldn’t worry. Hmmm wasn’t my password encrypted?

        As far as passwords go, I have so many that almost daily I need to request password information and change one or more. So they for the most part are changed regularly. Except of course for Adobe because I rarely go there since I am trying not to upgrade and stay on parity with my non cloud client.

        Thank you again,
        Holly

      • You can upgrade to CS6 with a perpetual license. If all you need is InDesign you can buy that directly from Adobe for $125 but the caveat there is you must have a standalone version of InDesign CS5.5. If you have a suite you’ll need to upgrade the entire suite, but you can do so with CS6 Design Standard.

        Best of luck in whatever you choose to do.

      • Thank you.

        Here is a new question: Can I stay on version 6 of InDesign and InCopy if I remain in the cloud, even if it is upgraded to 7 or higher? And, if I accidentally upgrade can I go backwards to what ever my client is on?

      • Hi Holly, InDesign CS6 is part of Creative Cloud along with InDesign CC (There is no CS7). However, for InCopy, only CC is part of Creative Cloud. The same caveats apply. If your clients are using CS6, you should also use that. The version you get with Creative Cloud and the perpetual license is identical.

  3. Bob, I agree (also) wholeheartedly; I actually heard somebody say that they saw no reason to upgrade from PS4 as Adobe wasn’t providing sufficient incentive – but they also expected Adobe to offer preferential pricing for them should they ever decide to upgrade . . . I suggested they compare the two products, then left the conversation

  4. What I would like to see, is packages for subscription, currently the Photography package is first, what about a Design package, like ID, PS, AI and Acrobat? Or perhaps a Media or Web package? We feel as Non-US customers that we already pay more than the US customers (for the same English version) and have no need for the extra programs we never use… Customizing would perhaps help making people the jump.

    • The idea of packages has been brought up before but the problem is more choices mean more overhead and more cost to Adobe. Those costs have to be made up somewhere.

      But I do agree about the non-US pricing. I get the fact that taxes enter into it but some countries do seem to get hit harder than others.

  5. Sure. I make no secret of the fact that I’m an Adobe Community Professional. Beyond that, Adobe has hired me to do a some freelance work, but again, this post, is not a defense of Adobe’s decision. It’s a look at why there’s no point spamming their Facebook page or user forums with the same nonsense over and over because it’s a waste of time. On top of that, there are people having legitimate issues and the noise spammers keep making (see Tom Daigon’s comment above and the umpteen times he’s done it on Adobe’s Creative Cloud Facebook page, though I give him credit for using his real name) simply drowns out those people making it much harder for them to get the assistance they need.

    Microsoft is having very strong success with Office 365 (for which I subscribe). Other companies are offering subscriptions and they’d be foolish not to be paying attention to this.

      • Very interesting. I think that program deserves to be better known. Regarding Creative Cloud, there’s no doubt that there are many things to like about Adobe’s subscription offerings. But to keep things in perspective, I think it’s also best to be candid about shortcomings. One aspect of this would be pricing outside of the US, which in some cases would seem to be unjustifiably higher. Another would be the continued lack of an exit strategy once a subscription stops. Adobe indicated they’d put something in place regarding this but I haven’t come across it yet. It seems to me a significant concern. I could go on but my point is that I think Adobe should continue to welcome suggestions and, yes, even pesky ongoing criticism from its customers. Trying to shut down the conversation, however uncomfortable, by labelling it as FUD is the easy path but is perhaps not the best approach.

  6. If you read my other comments you’ll see that I’ve acknowledged that it’s not perfect especially the non-US pricing. But I don’t buy the exit strategy thing as anything more than FUD. You need that file after you’ve left? Subscribe for a month and have at it. Your cell phone works the same way.

    And I’m not trying to shut down any conversations. The claim that Adobe isn’t listening is nonsense as shown by the Photography program. There’s nothing wrong with constructive criticism, but kicking and screaming like a spoiled child (not aim at you, Chris) will not change the basis of what this post was about. Perpetual licenses aren’t coming back so taking the “I’m never subscribing” approach is pointless.

    Discussing ways to make CC better is the proper approach. Things like improving the file sync features, adding more desktop fonts, adding storage space are examples of legitimate suggestions.

    • Adobe’s free trials will also reset once per year on major releases, so that is another possibility for accessing files on an once-in-a-while basis going forward.

      The company has previously offered an explanation for the higher overseas/Europe pricing, with some reasonable points… After all, almost everything costs more in London than in the U.S., not just Creative Cloud.

  7. Thanks Bob, I needed that kind of blog !

    I just left a hot tempered 6 pages long “HATERS” discussion at an Adobe forum, having at least brought some antidote to the poisoned atmosphere there. Of course the participants tried to slaughter and bash me, especially after someone “disclosed” my “true” identity: an official Adobe ACE and ACI and Community Professional (it’s in my profile and on my website, duh…). So they started calling me an Adobe fan boy and advocate, gay and naive, nauseating optimistic and exhausting in tenacity (and all of these descriptions are actually correct). But they just hated me for telling them wrong in various aspects, and for not fighting their battle.

    Some of these nay-sayers wisely did realize that their objections boil down to that one issue: the lack of (expected) choice. They hoped Adobe would not just move over to subscription only (with just CS6 as a soon to be relic version), but keep choice intact and letting them buy CC or separate applications as a permanent license.

    Haters proclaim “freedom of choice” but tend to forget that it’s also Adobe’s right of choice not to offer other options. My guess is that Adobe won’t budge. They might come up with a bit better exit-offering, but they won’t go back to the days of selling bundles and upgrades.

    If anyone is interested in the lengthy but informative debate: http://forums.adobe.com/thread/1209195?start=120&tstart=0 (I make my entrance somewhere in the middle of that 4th page).

  8. Bob, I couldn’t agree with you more. When I watched the move months ago, I knew it was irreversible. After one or two years, Adobe can look at the numbers, and perhaps at that point they will address some aspect of this situation – but only if it is necessary. And I strongly suspect it will not be necessary.

    Is this perfect? Far from it. Does it make some people’s lives more difficult? Sure. Does it open the door to other solutions to our design software needs? Absolutely – and that is not a bad thing at all. There will always be people unhappy with this change, as with any change. We humans like things ‘the way they are’ and that is the only thing that never will change. Everything else does.

    There’s a great scene in the first Ron Burgundy movie, that has come to represent the situation in my mind. A motorcyclist played by Jack Black (Adobe) grabs Ron’s dog Baxter (perpetual licence model) and says “Now this is happening” at which point he kicks the dog off the bridge, leaving Ron to fall to his knees sobbing uncontrollably (Adobe haters who refuse to accept reality). Everyone just needs to realize this is happening, and unlike the movie, Baxter is not going to drag himself out of the river at the end.

  9. Thanks for the comments Eric. I think the biggest benefit to all of this is that Adobe is not wasting resources on part time customers. As for two or three years down the road…I’d say there’s as good a chance of the price going down as there is in it going up.

  10. Bob, I think that you are absolutely correct in this analysis. (And thanks for pointing me to it.) However, it also seems that – amid all of the noise and “criticisms” of Adobe – some of the rationale for the changes in their business model has escaped attention. Basically the emergence of tablets, beginning with the iPad, as wonderful “screens” for the display of both still and motion imaging, had to have been a major catalyst. Adobe simply saw their two-year development cycle for things such as After Effects, Illustrator and Photoshop as incompatible with what could be done with apps via Apple. And, in fact, they rushed off to put together things like Eazel, Ideas and Touch to stake a claim in that marketplace and to give new users a migration path to the desktop apps these were coupled to.

    Did this strategy work well? Perhaps not so. To date the crossover between tablet- and desktop-based work seems pretty tenuous. Wacom must have poured a lot of monies/efforts into the development of a line of tablets, with their own software (not Adobe’s) included. This has not set the marketplace ablaze. Certainly Apple’s strategies worked out well – binfulls of little apps at $5 or less keeping the users on their toes but the ROI for independent developers very marginal

    As for the Creative Cloud at the code level … are there hooks in what’s been made available so far down to the tablet-based apps? Given that June next year would have been the release date in the standard cycle for CS7, might we see some soon? I feel that there are signposts in iPad “app-land” – from the little gizmos that huffed, puffed and have actually survived there – as to what should be added to and upgraded in the primary Adobe applications. Which is a bit ironic.

  11. Thanks for popping in, John. One thing I think you may have missed is that Adobe went to a 12 month upgrade cycle a couple of years ago when they released CS5.5. Twelve months later came CS6 and twelve months after that it was supposed to be CS7 (the idea of mid cycle upgrades was dropped) but was rebranded and released as Creative Cloud.

    I don’t think tablet apps are really a part of this but the developers of those apps are among the people that need upgrades to their workflow more often that every year or two. If you have any friend that develop for e-readers or tablets, have a chat with them. It’s enough to make you dizzy! 🙂

    • That’s a good point Bob. I did not partake of CS5.5 – considering it, at that time, to not be a major new version. And there was a two-year period between CS5 and then CS6 (with the latter providing the first Creative Cloud vision/option).

      But this doesn’t IMHO change that much really with and for Adobe. Having figured-out the sweetspot to get CC subscriptions up to a decent level, now they have to keep all of that user base. Some of us long-term users are now up to $50 per month (from $30 to start with). And even the very newest of new users well-know Adobe’s reputation – eye-popping new features.

      And yes, I have talked with (and worked for) folks who tried their hand with iOS apps (and the like). Tough, tough. and tougher still. (But, I still maintain that some of the individual new apps outshine anything that Adobe has done and introduced (recently).)

      • We are absolutely into a period of evolution, not revolution and your statement about other apps outshining Adobe’s latest offerings points to good solid competition. Something we all need. If nothing else, we’re living in interesting times. I think 2014 while not a make or break year for Adobe is incredibly important as far as what will be added to CC along with fixing some of the things that are just not good enough, yet.

  12. Don’t forget that during the period from the Flash-driven CS 5 climax to the current CC incarnation of old and new applications, Adobe took a 180 degrees turn in their technical visions and corporate strategies. From “Flash all-over” to “HTML5-centric”, from print and tv media to mobile publications and apps, from selling boxes to offering an ecosystem.

    CS 5 took a nose dive as soon as it was announced; CS 5.5 was a false marketing move with some makeshift updates; CS 6 leveled the field and set out for new directions; CC marks a new course in many aspects, readying Adobe for the next years.

    From a developer viewpoint, CC is a fair evolution, maybe even a retro-active step: back to separate product cycles, partially integrated, and with room for new and unconventional ideas. From a commercial viewpoint, it’s definitely a revolution.

  13. As a writer, I often suggest to other writers that they adopt a two-stage, best-of-all-worlds publishing model. Use Scrivener to write until the structure and content are almost final and then move to InDesign to layout and publish excellent-looking print and digital books from the same document file.

    Creative Cloud has actually made that much, much easier. Rather than attempt the near hopeless task of persuading them to spend about $600 on a single app, I can say, “Hey, it’s just $20/month for a single-app license. You might spend more than that on a few lattes.” Since they can always opt out, they can try InDesign for a few months without taking much risk.

    For the downside to InDesign, that steep learning curve, I generally suggest two options:

    1. Pay (or charm) someone to create an ID template for the sort of book you publish. Then all you need do is import the text from Scrivener and apply styles.

    2. First, use Adobe’s free training videos and, if you need more, join Lynda.com for a few months and use the excellent training there. Once you get a feel for ID, you can usually figure out how to do almost anything in a few minutes via user groups and Adobe documentation.

    –Michael W. Perry, Inkling Books

  14. I believe this is the beginning of the end of the age of Adobe. Your article seems to portray “poor Adobe suffering from customers who didn’t always upgrade”. There are two sides to every story. Their software has always been overpriced. Adobe would make a minor change and add a insignificant new tool and then release a whole new version and expect people to pay through the nose for the update. Then when that still couldn’t keep their coffers filled, they began socking it to the customer and demanding they upgrade within three versions or get left behind. Once they killed off their main competition in Macromedia, Adobe was free to take advantage of their monopoly and no longer had to respect their customer base for fear they would go elsewhere. When that didn’t work they moved to Creative Cloud to demand people pay their exorbitant rates. I refuse to move to Creative Cloud and will stick with my already paid in full copy of CS4 Design Premium. If I go back to when CS5 was first released, 48 months ago and add up what I would have paid in upgrade costs using the CC model of $50 a month… I’ve already saved $2,400! Every month going forward that I continue to use my paid-for CS4 Design Premium suite to do work for my design business I pocket another $50. I will hold out as many years as possible and when I have to upgrade… unless Adobe learns their lesson, I will find alternative software to do the job. I hope Adobe realizes you can’t just soak your customers and expect them to keep shelling out… this Creative Cloud model hides the soaking by getting them wet slowly so the painful reality is hidden by unending months of smaller payments… I cannot reward that kind of company model and so I use my CS4 paid for suite with pride…knowing I benefit and Adobe does not.

    • Well, here in our office we save far, far more than $50 a month in time just by having some of the major features added since CS4, such as Content-Aware Fill, Move, Patch and Extend in Photoshop alone… I guess it all depends on how much you value your own time.

  15. There are those that support ADOBE CC and there are those calling for an alternative. Those that support CC so be it and enjoy, but don’t oppose those looking for an alternative. Those supporters of CC that use SMARTSOUND, would you prefer to purchase or to rent? Those CC supporters that own Red Giant plug-ins, would you prefer to purchase or to rent? Those CC supporters that own TWIXTOR, would you prefer to purchase or to rent? Those CC supporters that own Knoll, would you prefer to purchase or to rent? That’s just to mention but a few of the many ADOBE plug-in providers some of you no doubt use. If you prefer renting plug-ins you’ll need to keep a cool head and ensure you make your monthly payments to dozens of service providers or it could spell the end of your project. If you prefer to buy them, then the question would be why? What’s the difference between renting plug-ins as opposed to purchasing them. No difference in renting a plug-in and renting ADOBE. Should you disagree, I would love to hear what your reasoning is to purchasing plug-ins as opposed to renting plug-ins especially considering they too are continually being updated.

  16. I would assume your blog was developed using DREAMWEAVER as you’re all for renting ADOBE software and oppose anyone that requests a second option. You would never have used WORDPRESS, JOOMLA or DRUPELas they are FREE and that’s out of the question. Or did you use a free app?

    You’ve made a pretty bold statement on your blog which discredits loyal ADOBE users who are asking for an option to own “They want to be able to decide whether to buy or not. In other words, they want Adobe to spend a fortune to offer something for sale that most of them wouldn’t buy anyway. These are the same people that complain when they do have to buy an upgrade to maintain compatibility with a new operating system, to get a new feature or have some obscure bug fixed”. Where did you get this from? Do you have access to ADOBE’S support system, their records? If not what you’re stating is simply in your mind with no facts to prove it.

    Renting is more expensive than owning. Not everyone needs the entire mandatory package ADOBE is trying to force down our throats. You’re simply assuming. If what you’re saying is indeed the case why would ADOBE offer individual packages at inflated prices. Do you honestly believe a photographers needs ALL of ADOBE’S software. It looks more like a strategy on the part of ADOBE to get ALL their software into the market. Your statement “I’ve read countless complaints……….that most of them wouldn’t buy anyway” flies somewhat in your face with regard to your assumption that people only a few people want individual products. What is it “countless” (so many you can’t count them” or just a few? It must be one or the other.

    To switch from Premiere Pro CS to CC costs $240 per per year. To upgrade from CS5.5 to CS6 costs $179, and you own it. To change from AAE CS to CC costs $240 per year. To upgrade from CS5.5 to CS6 costs $215 and you own it. It does not take much to work out how much more CC costs.

    • Well, OTOH to go from not having After Effects at all to being able to use the latest amazing release now costs $240 a year with ongoing upgrades (plus other tools & services) included, instead of having to produce $1000 upfront for a static version of AE (plus hundreds of dollars for any upgrades) that won’t be supported on future operating systems.

  17. No matter how you look at the numbers renting is more expensive than owning. Remember when you stop paying you have nothing. Renting is a liability, not an asset therefore renting does not make good business sense for the user.

    Adobe upgraded CS every two years. AAE CS6 upgrade from CS5.5 costs $215. That’s far cheaper than paying $480 for two years renting and you have nothing in your hands. My calculations are that renting is 123% more expensive for individual packages than owning if you buy Adobe’s upgrade every two years,and as I say again, with renting you have nothing.

    Even if Adobe did not enforce renting and stayed with their owning software model and increased their prices by 20% for each upgrade it would take it would take 6 upgrades for them to be on par with their current rental rate for individual packages. An upgrade every two years, in my books, that’s 12 years to catch up to renting. The question therefore is what will rental cost in 12 years time? Who is the winner, ADOBE.

    Bob has been very vocal with regard to opposing owning software claiming that renting is better and that by far ADOBE users prefer rental but has given no solid evidence for his assumptions. Rental only works out cheaper if you take the entire package and use it. I would love to see stats of how many ADOBE users want the entire package (and will use it) vs those that want individual packages. I would also like to see ADOBE place the numbers on the table proving that rental is cheaper than buying individual packages, always keeping in mind with rental you will own nothing in the end.

    Bob has not been entirely transparent when opposing those that want to own their software. When viewing his website it is evident he has very close ties with ADOBE. It would therefore be in his best interests to support ADOBE’S move to renting software. I believe considering Bob’s close ties with ADOBE that his views on renting vs owning can be impartial. With respect, if I was in Bob’s shoes I would probably also back ADOBE in fear of losing my business, but on the other hand I would rather keep silent as opposed insisting that renting is better and “shooting down” those who wish to own.

    • Again, it’s a relative question to each situation… As one example, compare the costs of buying Photoshop Extended + Lightroom outright vs. the cost of getting the latest CC releases now for $10/mo., and most would agree that “renting” is better.

    • I’m getting soooo tired and quite angry of these kinds of personal accusations and assumptions…

      Bob’s ties with Adobe have evolved from his usage of CC and enthusiasm about this offering – not the other way around. Why is it that someone who is independently fond of something is immediately labelled as partial and biased, and must remain silent ? That’s crazy ! I could say you’re obviously impartial because you’re against this subscription model and not working for Adobe. Stop doing that.

      Bob is (just like me) an Adobe customer who is very good at using a lot of popular Adobe applications. Plus, he’s very vocal about what he does and knows, so he also has become a helpful and kind participant in many independent Adobe communities. You can easily find many tweets and threads in which he expresses his unhappiness and concerns about Adobe’s tools and policies. But about CC he simply found out that he can make use of many more applications and services, expand to other areas easily, and improve his business. And save a lot of money compared to what it would have cost him with software licenses and various other costs. Especially services like building and distributing digital publications are crucial perks of CC.

      Furthermore, you can’t base a calculation like you do on a routine of just 2 or 3 past iterations in an exploding and higher-paced media world like ours. Adobe is trying to follow suit with these ever and quicker changing trends. (I deliberately say “trying” because I personally feel they’re not there yet in some areas, if any company ever will or even can.) Offering more and new applications and CS bundles and many update and upgrade possibilities would leave the majority of users so confused and apathetic, that they surely will be left behind in a few more years. Most of them already can’t choose between the current slew of CS tools and configurations.

      It’s quite clear: as soon as you need to buy or update more than one single application or service, next to the standard print media bundle you probably already own, you’re better off choosing CC. So if you just need to keep pushing out print media, stay foot with the Adobe CS 5 or 6 Standard. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that and no-one is forcing you, not me, not Bob, not even Adobe. In case of anything else: move over.

      Final note: don’t get too dogmatic about not owning your tools. You’re already renting all kinds of stuff and services for private and professional use. Adobe chooses to offer their new tools and services in this new CC way, and not anymore as a licensing option. That’s their choice, their strategy. Take it or leave it, for now. Or jump-in later on. It’s no big deal, not even money-wise. To most professional users it’s probably not more than 1 billable hour per month, in all fairness.

    • Anyone using Adobe software to make a living has a reason to want Adobe to continue to produce new and better tools. If you don’t feel that way you are fool or a luddite stuck in the past.

      As for being transparent? You found my bio on my website and it’s right here on this WordPress (I use the right tool for the right job) blog. I didn’t hide it anywhere. It’s you and those like you that throw around accusations (which I addressed in this post) that I have no interest in.

      When you grow up, come on back and we’ll have a grown up conversation about how businesses operate in the 21st century.

  18. WORDPRESS. You did not use Dreamweaver? Is that because you need to rent it or is WORDPRESS better? If you think WORDPRESS is just for blogs, you’re wrong. An entire well designed interactive website can be created with WORDPRESS, even online an store. It’s easy, loads of free plugins, it simply does not end. WORDPRESS is used by big corporations not for just blogs but websites. It’s by far the best.

    Lets be realistic, CC is not a matter of producing new tools, it’s a different way of collecting money for what a company produces. There is no valid reason to change from perpetual licensing to rental other than collecting more cash using a different tactic. It’s a way of increasing revenue.

    On the issue of the petition asking ADOBE to please look at alternatives, signatures may be coming in slow but they’re nevertheless mounting. Whoever set up the petition did not have to go about offering those who signed some sort of promotion or reward to do so. They did it because that’s what they believe in and they should be respected for that.

    Look at ADOBE. They saw the need to offer an unbelievable 40% discount amounting to millions of Dollars to current CS owners (no doubt as a result of the backlash, why else throw away all that cash? Do the maths, subscriptions x discount value) to switch to CC. Not only that they keep extending the promotional date.

    Wonder what would have happened if petitioners were offered 40% discount on CS not to sign up for CC? I would say CC would have been dead and buried the first day it was launched. Anyone would have difficulty in denying that as fact.

    If this was a ball game I would say (and one cannot ague the fact) that the playing fields are uneven. Whistle, red card, unfair play. That’s what monopolies and large corporations do, They throw large amounts of cash to get their way and ADOBE is no different..

    What do you honestly believe (and I mean honestly) would have happened had they not thrown hordes of cash at CC (which they will need to recoup in way one way or another – they’re not a charity – your words) and went out at normal price or even kept to the dates the promotions were to end?

    Instead of mocking the petition, look at the facts. The playing fields are uneven therefore it’s a weak argument put forward and anyone of intelligence well knows that.

    Could ADOBE not have used this money to continue upgrading CS and offer perpetual licenses? Millions of Dollars thrown at launching CC, why?

    There are thousands that love CC. It suites them and I respect that. But there are others that are asking for an alternative, what’s wrong with that? Why are they termed “haters” just for airing their views which ADOBE has undoubtedly turned a deaf ear to? Would it not be correct to respect the opinions of others? There is no right or wrong, just a difference. People use different financial plans to purchase a car, home or any other high priced item. Whatever plan suites them best. Life is about choices and ADOBE has not addressed that.

    In South Africa the largest supermarket group has recognized the importance of choice and offering customers what they want. In a very clever campaign they say, “DON’T CHANGE YOUR LIFESTYLE, CHANGE YOUR SUPERMARKET”.

    Unfortunately it’s not that easy with ADOBE Premiere Pro or After Effects. One has spent thousands of Dollars on the software and plugins that only work with ADOBE. Changing would be financial suicide and renting stand alone products more than doubles the current price. Small businesses, freelancers and private individuals have very little if not no choice. Tuck in your belts it’s going to be a rough ride. Pay up or you have nothing. Does anyone believe ADOBE does not know this?

  19. Here’s the thing. I’m nearing retirement but need to maintain some freelance work to stay afloat. Paying $50 a month to do part-time work, especially in my depressed rural community, will be very prohibitive. And I resent all the sneers from people who think $50 a month is chump change. Count your blessings and have an ounce of compassion for the other half.

    Half of rural printers have gone out of business, and CC may well hasten a good many more.

    Once I create an InDesign document in CC I’m stuck paying that monthly fee or can no longer access my work. Photoshop and Illustrator, okay, but not InDesign.

    And InDesign is indeed pretty much a monopoly anymore. Can’t do professional work and be connected with other designers without it, so there are no real options. Right now I’m limping by with 5.5 but it’s only a matter of time before that’s impossible.

    No, I haven’t bought every upgrade, but I’ve spent thousands upon thousands on Adobe products since 1988, so I’m not exactly a bad customer. But since Adobe’s doing fabulously well with CC, they sure don’t give a rip about people like me. We’re just old geezers stuck with a new model that’s going to create a real financial hardship for the rest of our working lives. And then we have to endure the ridicule of all you enlightened ones to boot.

  20. Reading what I wrote in the morning light let me add that last sentence wasn’t directed at you, Bob, but to some other posters here. I’ve long admired your work and the help you give on Adobe discussion boards, and you indeed maintain a civil tone.

    But let me make my complaint crystal clear: once I begin saving InDesign docs in cc I’ll have to pay that monthly fee for the rest of my life if I ever want to access them again. And once I’m gone my survivors will have to do the same. I do absolutely everything in InDesign—legal docs, letters, you name it. The only workaround I can come up with is to save everything as pdf, so at least others can see the work or extract the text.

    • Jon, I get no joy out of hearing about people that are struggling, but I stand by the article. If $50/month is too much to maintain a business there are far bigger problems to worry about.

      That said, if InDesign is the only application you need, then you can subscribe to that for only $20/month. You also seem to be conveniently leaving out the fact that if you were to buy an upgrade it would cost you the equivalent of many months (or depending up the package you have) or years of subscriptions that you would have to come up with up front.

      If you don’t have $20 or $50 where are you going to find hundreds or even thousands of dollars?

      • Bob, thanks for your reply. Of course I realize the cost of upgrades—I’ve bought many over 25 years. But I’m the type you talked about that buys every other time or every third time. Not because I’m cheap but because I’m on a tight budget, and the new features aren’t always compelling enough to make me jump.

        There’s nothing unfair to Adobe in that scenario—it’s what capitalism is all about. Put your best wares on the market at your best price, and let customers decide if it’s worth it. Yes, $50 a month is about what it would cost to always have the latest upgrade, but now we don’t have the option to decide if it’s worth it.

        There really aren’t “any number of competitors” to turn to, at least for InDesign, so we’re indeed left feeling locked-in.

        But again, my biggest concern is the future. Below Peter says “why worry now?” Because I’m old enough to think about retirement (or semi-retirement, all I’ll ever afford or want). I suppose I could spend the last week of my subscription saving everything down so I can open in 5.5, but how long will that option be available? I doubt more than four or five years max, or about the time I will actually need it.

        Finally, again to Peter—it’s compatibility that will eventually force the move to CC. A client supplying me InDesign docs will excuse me being out of date a version or two, but eventually I will lose credibility.

        Yes, the premise of your blog is correct—Adobe is not looking back and we must deal with that, which I’m trying to do. And yes, I’m considering the InDesign-only option. But I raise my voice because Adobe needs to know what its customers are thinking, and many of those jumping into CC are doing so only out of necessity, not with any great enthusiasm.

  21. Adobe announced and announces over and over you’ll still be able to buy or upgrade to CS6 for a very long while, and they’ll support it accordingly with maintenance updates.

    And nothing forces you to move to CC, when you’re in the print business. You can even work happily with CS5 for many more years.

    But you can’t have your cake and eat it – or said more appropriate: use brand new Adobe CC software but don’t pay for it.

    When you discontinue your subscription, you could save your files in a backwards compatible format. And after discontinuing your subscription, you could always ask some one else to open a CC file for you and down-save it, or use a 1-month trial version incidentally (once a year).

    Of course, your InDesign version and trusted Mac or PC won’t work forever. But that’s not different in any other scenario. So eventually you’ll have to fork out some money to pay for the new stuff, but that’s not your problem now.

    Why worry now ? If it becomes a big problem for many more users in time, I trust Adobe (or other market players) to have a suitable offering. We’ll see…

  22. Jon: what aspects of what you’re describing are typical to the CC (subscription) scenario, and which would really be just the same if Adobe would have continued their CS (license) scenario ?

    Make one more jump: upgrade to a licensed CS6 whenever you feel you need it, and use it till the cows come home. Or fork out the $ 20 per month for just InDesign CC.

    And concerning the compatibility: you’re working with clients who supply you with files, and you need to submit your files to others. I think that’s a pretty professional workflow, and by using CC, all parties involved benefit from being finally able to get rid of this “which version do you have” syndrome.

    • Again, the one huge difference between CS and CC is this: with CC, when I retire or die, I or my survivors will not be able to open my legacy InDesign documents once the subscription has lapsed. I have personal and legal docs as well as professional.

      Yes, the two options in your paragraph 2 are the two I’m considering. I lean toward InDesign CC to have the latest tools and compatibility with others; I lean toward CS6 for the reasons I stated above.

      Yes, your point in paragraph 3 is well taken. That’s one good advantage of CC (once everyone has finally moved to it.)

      • “Again, the one huge difference between CS and CC is this: with CC, when I retire or die, I or my survivors will not be able to open my legacy InDesign documents …”

        Well, your survivors could simply download the latest free trial of InDesign and then open whatever documents they needed.

        If for some reason they had already used that free trial period, then it would only cost them one month of paid access, ~$30… Or they could even do it for free by extending their free trial, if they were so inclined.

        This does not appear to be a prohibitive concern.

  23. I was under the impression you had to sign up for a year. Am I wrong? If you can subscribe for just a month, that indeed would be a help.

    In any case, as I argued originally, paying a monthly fee in fact can be prohibitive, especially in the depressed rural area I live in. I have ties to our local printer, a one-time thriving business now barely staying afloat. He is trying to maintain five seats and is feeling the pressure, but he’ll probably take just one to CC to maintain compatibility with the outside world. A freelancer doesn’t have that option.

  24. My heartbreak comes as I move toward retirement. There is no pricing structure offered for the casual user. I would love to be able to do the occasional non-profit job or make birthday flyers for my grand nephew. The monthly fee is already $75.99.

  25. Wow plenty of Adobe puffers here.. Bob you’re quick to belittle anyone who doesn’t see the shiny object hanging from the Adobe hook. You have no real understanding of how the subscription model works and how nobody wins except your beloved Adobe. Spewing out the same rhetoric that Adobe sales staff tries to sell you on. Nobody is trying to tell Adobe how to run its business, that’s not realistic. They’re upset that Adobe is not offering a choice and using strong arm tactics to force you into their subscription by not releasing updates unless you rent. Bottom line is there should at least be a choice as subscription is not for everyone. Most intelligent people don’t want to rent and prefer to buy without monthly lease payments to access their work.

    Have no illusions, Adobe verifies the license status of your device every time you connect to the Internet in real-time to make sure you’re current. Lets face it, if you cant pay Adobe every month, Adobe turns out the lights and you can no longer edit your work. This does not sit well with me and our company has moved to alternative products. It takes some time to research and find what fits your workload but there are plenty of options out there.

    When I invest money and time into mastering a product, I’m in it for the long haul. I don’t want to pay every month or year just so I can have the latest revision or effects feature. I’ve found that any new features that come out are just not that spectacular enough to make me rush out and get the latest release.. in this case, justify paying every month to use my software.

    People need to evaluate their decision based on past history of upgrading both Adobe and PC OS. Look at the usage time / cost investment to see where you are compared to the subscription based offer. For me it was an easy decision, it was equivalent to buying the entire creative suite from Adobe every year but never really owing it. Bob please spare me the rhetoric about Adobe’s licensing rights.. what I mean by ownership is you can still edit your work when you stop paying Adobe every month. I use the word “rent” because that’s exactly what it is. It’s not an investment that you can still use during lean times, you just have to keep paying. Do the math and then allow some time for it to sink in.

    • Well Karen, thanks for stopping by. Contrary to popular belief, Adobe is not a monopoly.

      There are plenty of alternatives to Adobe software out there. Some of them free. You sound like a good candidate.

      Good luck in your endeavors.

What do you think?