What a week it has been.
Many pro and amateur photographers, along with many other creative pros and enthusiasts, woke up Monday morning looking forward to what might come out of the Adobe MAX conference as the latest Adobe products were set to be unveiled.
Adobe teased us for several weeks leading up to Adobe MAX, including an impressive showing of new video products at NAB 2013. Many of us were nearly on pins and needles with anticipation based on what we had seen thus far.
I mean, this stuff just keeps better and better.
And Then… The Hammer Dropped.
Sure, you can still buy CS6 licenses, and you will own those in perpetuity. Although, you won’t get the whiz-bang new features for CS6. Ever.
Deep down, most of us knew this was coming. However, I don’t think many of us guessed it would happen this year. I sure didn’t.
The New Adobe Regime
So, just what exactly is going on with the new Photoshop CC and other Adobe applications? (And, by the way, CC stands for Creative Cloud.)
The next versions of what we have known for years as “Creative Suite” applications are going to be available exclusively on a subscription basis. However, Adobe will continue to sell CS6 products as non-subscription (or perpetual licenses). Of course, the CS6 applications will remain as CS6 applications – no new bells and whistles like what we see in Photoshop CC.
Inaccurate Info About Creative Cloud is Everywhere
I have read so many inaccurate comments and blog posts about what Adobe Creative Cloud is and what kind of limitations are a part of it. There is so much bad info out there that it can be hard to separate what’s right and wrong.
I think part of this has to do with Adobe’s naming scheme for its software subscription service: Creative Cloud.
Because we are talkin about Adobe’s “cloud” I think a lot of assumptions are made about how the service works.
Adobe Creative Cloud applications do not run in your web browser. They do not run “in the cloud.”
Again, I blame the name.
You pay a monthly subscription fee of $50. You then get access to download all of the Creative Cloud applications, which includes every application that was formerly part of the Creative Suite Master Collection, as well as many others, including Lightroom.
You download the applications to your computer and run them just link you did with the Creative Suite applications. Photoshop CC will run on your computer just like Photoshop CS3, CS4, CS5 and CS6 did.
No, it doesn’t cost $600/yr to “subscribe” to Photoshop.
Photoshop is available in the $50/mo subscription plan for all of Creative Cloud; however, you can subscribe to just Photoshop for $20/mo. If you have a legit serial number for Photoshop CS3 or higher, it is only $10/mo for the first year.
All of our files are stored in the cloud.
You can save your files on your computer just like you always have. Additionally, Adobe offers online storage for Creative Cloud subscribers and gives you the ability to sync files between computers and mobile devices.
Adobe Creative Cloud is Good Business, and Generally a Good Deal for Pros
I signed up for Creative Cloud on day one. I love it.
I know lots of other pros are loving it as well. I use several of the applications in my regular workflow, including Photoshop, Premiere Pro, Encore, Media Encoder, After Effects and Illustrator, among others.
Fifty bucks a month for all that? Are you kidding me? Yeah, day one sign-up was a no brainer for me. I can budget a $50/mo business expense much easier than I can several hundred bucks every spring for Production Premium right after I open my checkbook to the IRS.
People who make their living day-in and day-out in Photoshop and other Creative Suite applications generally feel pretty good about the deal. Part-time pros, and those who upgrade less frequently or share licenses in a household that contains a couple of creative pros run into some issues with the Creative Cloud plan.
On Adobe’s side of the coin, Creative Cloud is a constant revenue stream that is going to grow its business big time. I’ve heard numbers of 500,000+ subscribers inside the first year of Creative Cloud. Doing the math at 500k x $50 is $25,000,000 per month in revenue. And that’s going to grow to a much bigger number now.
Adobe is a business. It has shareholders and it has to be profitable. There a lots of comments about Abode’s greed floating around the Internet this week. I’m not going there.
I think there is too much value in the Creative Cloud model to call it pure greed; however, I think there are clearly some inconveniences created by this move – to a lot of people.
Creative Cloud in the Fight Against Piracy
Finding a torrent for Photoshop or any other Creative Suite application is a breeze. You can be up and running a pirated copy of Photoshop in a few minutes if you wanted. Adobe knows this, and wants to change this.
There are a few ways that I see Creative Cloud can be an effective step toward limiting piracy of Adobe’s most popular applications.
First, the activation process allows Creative Cloud apps to be installed on up to two computers simultaneously. Once per month, the computer connects with Adobe’s servers to validate the subscription. If it doesn’t validate, the software goes into trial mode. You then have 30-days to straighten things out.
Second, by providing a high-end product at a lower month-to-month rate, Adobe is reducing the incentive to circumvent DRM in order to run Photoshop. I have read comments from more than one self-proclaimed pirate who is jumping on board Creative Cloud because the cost/benefit analysis leans more toward a low-cost subscription than it does to pirate it.
Third, key features are integrated with the cloud, which can’t be accessed without an Adobe Creative Cloud login. I think we are going to see a lot more of this coming too. If we can’t get some of the whiz bang features that makes today’s creative applications so great without subscribing to a service, then the incentive to pirate the software will be further reduced.
The Crack Dealer Has Changed the Rules…
Of all the complaints I have heard this past week, I don’t think anyone has a bigger bone to pick with Adobe than the amateur/enthusiast photographer. Man, I feel you on this one.
Here’s a typical comment that arrived in my inbox this week:
I’m furious about Adobe’s decision not to offer Photoshop as a boxed software and make it subscription only.
I am 72 years old and live on a fixed and declining income. I have been a loyal user of Photoshop since 1995 when I purchased my first computer. I faithfully bought every upgrade by saving my quarters and popping for the upgrade every 18 months.
I hope enough Photoshop users worldwide get pissed over their greedy decision. This is truly a sad day for amateur photographers. The Crack Dealer has just changed the rules.
The amateur photographer, who has been an Adobe customer for a decade, upgrades every couple of years because that’s what it is worth to him. He’s not making any money off of his photography, but he’s quite proficient with Adobe’s software and really produces some solid work thanks to Photoshop and, maybe, Lightroom too.
After saving some cash and waiting for the appropriate 2-year upgrade cycle, he’s now left with a decision to make. Upgrade to Photoshop CC and commit to $240/yr (ok, $120 for the first year) every year (until Adobe raises subscription prices), or upgrade to last year’s Photoshop CS6 and get left behind with the whiz bang features.
The next upgrade for CS6 is never. Or, at least until he’s willing to sign on to a subscription model.
$20/mo. doesn’t sound like much to a lot of folks. But there are plenty of enthusiasts who are on a fixed income and can’t commit to that every month.
This is bad news for the enthusiast photographer and bad news for Adobe.
The Un-Subscribe Problem
The achilles heel of Creative Cloud is here. When you unsubscribe to Creative Cloud, you lose the ability to access your work or create further work.
Let’s say you subscribe to CC for 2 years. You get low on cash-flow and can’t commit to re-up for another year. Two months into your “unsubscription” period, you want to look at a .PSD that you created in Photoshop. No such luck, you don’t subscribe to Photoshop CC anymore.
Sure, you can subscribe for a single month at a higher rate, but you just want to open one file and maybe do a couple of edits and re-print it.
Of all the complaints for pros and amateurs, this problem sucks the most.
The most common solution I have heard from users has been for Adobe to allow programs to open, export, print and otherwise output files – even outside of the subscription period.
However, I have another solution that I think is both fair and addresses a lot of the concerns for many amateurs…
Last-Gen Perpetual Licenses, Please?
I would propose that Adobe grant a perpetual license to Creative Cloud customers have been a subscriber for a pre-determined period. I think 2-years would be fair.
After that 2-years of subscription, grant a perpetual license for software that is a year or two old. As a result, if users can’t continue their subscription, they can at least perform some form of editing and continue work with software that they shelled out $1200 for over the past two years. Feel free to cut off other Creative Cloud features, but for the folks on a fixed income, this would be much easier to swallow.
I think such a move would show a great deal of fairness on Adobe’s behalf and still prevent the latest versions of the software from being cheapened.
I have a lot more thoughts on Adobe Creative Cloud, and I’m generally pretty excited about what is coming in June with the new software versions. I am going to try to get together with Jimmy Beltz over at PhotoTips.biz on Saturday at 1PM ET for a live stream Q&A session about Creative Cloud, and maybe some other topics as well. Come join us here at PhotoTips.biz if you want to talk more about it.
In the mean time, I am very interested to continue the conversation with you guys here. What are your thoughts on Creative Cloud and where Adobe is headed?