Will Adobe’s Creative Cloud subscription make you “unsubscribe”?

21 May, 2013 | Della Wyler | Cloud Technology
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By now you have probably drifted in, out, and through the Cloud, or have at the very least heard about the Cloud. If you have used Evernote, Spotify, or DropBox then yes, you have been in the Cloud. As technology needs keep evolving companies and individuals alike are utilizing various technologies within the Cloud. The new buzz is these subscription based services, and Cloud-Only subscriptions, such as Adode Creative Cloud, and Microsoft 365. “Long gone are the days of purchasing and owning boxed-up software.” Could we really be saying that in the not so distant future? That idea is not totally inconceivable. Google Apps, AutoCad, Microsoft, and pay-as-you-go infrastructure such as Amazon Web Services are just a few technology companies that are already using subscription pricing, or software-as-a-service, a form of cloud computing. Adobe, a major design software tool that includes Photoshop, Acrobat, Flash, and InDesign, can now be added to the list. They recently announced they are transitioning, feet first, to a cloud-only subscription model, meaning all future versions of the software will only be available via the cloud for a monthly fee. New versions will no longer be created and packages in the familiar boxed package. Providers claim the user gets more from the product following a subscription based model. Is that really the case, or are these subscriptions really about nickel and diming you?

What are Cloud-based Subscriptions?

Cloud-based subscriptions, is a type of cloud computing where a third party delivers a single application to many different users. Upfront costs are low for the user, and maintenance costs are low for the provider. Cloud subscriptions have been an attractive investment for both large and small companies because it provides IT a way to increase capabilities, and capacity without having to invest in additional IT infrastructure and software. Red Hat, a software provider who specializes in enterprise operating systems, was one of the early pioneers for this model, and their argument to convert to this model was they felt it was better for customers to make steady payment, while receiving a steady stream of updates. Adobe agrees with this way of thinking, and is one of the reasons they have made this dramatic change so quickly.

Adobe’s Subscription Model – What’s it going to cost?

“Everything moving forward is focusing on creative cloud” —Adobe. Adobe’s Creative Suite 6 (CS6) will be the final boxed version, meaning boxed-versions and perpetual licenses will not be available for versions later than CS6. In addition, they are dropping the name Creative Suite (CS), and have introduced the Creative Cloud (CC). Adobe will continue to support and sell Adobe Creative Suite 6, with fixes and security updates, but newer versions will not be released. Upgrades will only be available via the Cloud via Adobe’s Creative Cloud service. As with boxed versions, there are different pricing options. Adobe has reduced prices for existing customers, and other qualifying customers:

  • $29.99/month (with annual commitment) Complete Access – For existing CS3 or later customers
  • $49.99/month (with annual commitment) Complete Access – For new Creative Cloud members
  • $74.99/month (Complete Access) – Month to Month
  • $19.99/month (with annual commitment) – Single App / one desktop application
  • $29.99/month (with annual commitment – Teacher & Student Edition
  • Free – 30 day trial of all apps

As with other software subscription models, like Microsoft, Adobe is sweetening the deal by offering additional treats such as storage and additional licenses for use on multiple computers. You can see each option in more detail here:



Adobe Suite Subscription – The good & the bad

Since Adobe announced its decision on May 6th, to offer their software through a Cloud-Only subscription, there has been uproar amongst its users. A petition was immediately started and as of today, a week and half after the announcement, it has reached over 15,000 signees. Although there are people who don’t care for this software subscription model, there seems to be an overwhelming number of people who do like it, which is why Adobe has made this drastic change. They launched the first phase over a year ago have over a half million subscribers who are pleased with the offerings. Some of the pros to the cloud subscription model include:

  • Customers receive updates/upgrades all the time. Adobe doesn’t have to wait to release updates as they have done in the past, waiting for the release of major paid updates.
  • Users can sync setting across devices
  • Users have access to all the creative suite tools. In the past the entire Creative Suite would cost the user $2,600.   The cloud based model allows users to try all the tools in the Suite without having to pay that large upfront cost. Adobe found that, with access given to users, they are using the new software, whereas before they were not if they did not purchase that box version.
  • The revenue stream is constant, which enables updates to be constant and automatic.
  • Easier administration
  • Better Compatibility & Collaboration: All users will have the same version of software.

On the flip side, here are some of the cons of the Cloud-Only Subscription based model:

  • No Ownership. You are basically renting the software.
  • No payment = No access. If a user cannot make the $50.00 payment, then they will not be able to use the software.
  • Paying for a lifetime.
  • Another monthly bill to be added to your budget, along with rent, utilities, and car payments.
  • Forced to use new versions. Some people are content with older version and get comfortable using them.
  • You could end up paying more for Adobe tools you don’t really use.
  • Depending on certain factors, such as how often you use the tool, you may or may not come out on top when it comes to the new pricing structure.

Other companies offering software-as-a-service under subscription based models such as, Microsoft haven’t received as much negative reaction because although they believe moving to the Cloud is a good thing, the transition and majority buy-in will take time, so they still offer both options.

Is the upgrade to Adobe Creative Cloud subscription worth it?

If you want the latest creative tools Adobe has to offer then you will have to upgrade to Creative Cloud, which rolls out in June. They have made some really cool feature upgrades from CS6, including integration with Behance, but these new features may be getting over shadowed because of the how they are selling new products, via subscription only. Based on certain factors, some users could benefit from Adobe’s monthly subscriptions while others will not. Adobe states that they made this change with the various types of users in mind. They realize that there are some users who make a living using these graphic design tools, many of which are angry and have already expressed their decision to no longer use Adobe products. Many are choosing to “unsubscribe” from Adobe.

If you don’t qualify for upgrade or educational pricing, or plan on upgrading every year, then this change may actually appeal to you, and you will end up spending less. As you know the box versions, especially the Master Suite, can be very pricey, especially if you upgrade every time a new version comes out. You do the math. An individual license for Photoshop runs $699, and the Master Suite runs about $2599. A two-year subscription (about how often new versions were rolling out) of a single-app will cost $600. A two-year subscription for the master suite would cost $1200 for new customers, and even less for existing customer who are upgrading.

How often do you purchase new versions of Adobe software? Those it will likely affect negatively are those who don’t use the tools often, and those who don’t care to upgrade as new versions roll out. There are plenty of users who like to use the product, but don’t have a daily or weekly need. What about those graphic designers that use this tool and prefer to make a one-time payment to own it? How often do they pay the large upfront cost to own the software? Is it every time a new version comes out? They could benefit if they were constantly upgrading, but then again they could feel like prisoners to Adobe, making payments forever! One fear expressed by customers is that will be victim to rising prices a year or two down the road. Adobe says they will not raise prices as this would jeopardize their relationships and trust with customers. They are currently offering discounted rates, but have made it clear that those are limited time, and have given them the prices that will take effect after those have expired. The decision to stick with Adobe will need to be made by the user, but apparently Adobe feels like their customers like to be able to have the latest versions at their fingertips.

Do you Like or Dislike the subscription model?

Some people think the move to a cloud-only subscription is inevitable. Software providers such as Autodesk, Microsoft, and Quark are already using subscription based models, although not Cloud-only at this point. It’s apparent though, that things seem to be moving in that direction, and perhaps we need to get used to the Cloud software-as-a-service model. One option for customers who dislike the change is to go out and purchase the boxed CS6 now! You’ll have it to use when you want, and who knows, by the time you can no longer use that version, Adobe may have a change of heart, but I wouldn’t hold your breathe.

What are your thoughts about subscription based models for software? Will you continue to use Adobe products through the Creative Cloud subscription? Do you think software providers should offer both boxed software with perpetual licenses in addition to a cloud subscription model and leave the choice to the customer? Or is that too much to ask? What would the cost implication be in the long run?

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