A Cloud Over the Cloud

Adobe Creative CloudUnless you have been on a far-away Tibetan mountain for the last several months, with no contact to the world, then you know that Adobe has gone ‘all in’ for the Creative Cloud. No more boxed software; It’s cloud subscription-only.

Simply put, users won’t be able to buy Photoshop CC (the next upgrade) or other apps individually from Adobe for a flat rate (known in the industry as perpetual licensing). Instead, you will pay a monthly subscription to access all of Adobe’s products. Adobe will continue to sell current versions of Adobe CS6, but those products will not get any future feature updates. The products will get security patches and bug fixes and Adobe will make sure that CS6 is compatible with the next major version of OS X and Windows.

The subscription-only software as a service (SaaS) model is in line with other software providers. Owning a declining value asset, such as software, makes no sense for a provider or user given cloud centric flexibility. Photoshop now costs $20 a month, rather than $650, its recent shelf price. Those who bought the program recently will get a discounted rate. Adobe’s full Creative Suite, which ramps Photoshop with applications like Illustrator, InDesign, Dreamweaver, and more, now runs $50 a month, rather than $2,600.

Adobe recognizes that many customers bought the CS6 suites with a perpetual license, believing that they would have a clear upgrade path. For those customers, Adobe will offer deep discounts for the first year if they wish to transition to Adobe CC.

adobe-creative-cloudHowever, there is a bit of a cloud over the cloud. The change has sparked a heated debate with a vocal minority of users who started an on line petition to bring back boxed software. Some have logged congressional complaints and others have requested that the Obama administration investigate the subscription-only practice as predatory pricing. Good luck with that— it’s not happening, nor should it in a free enterprise system.

Nonetheless, the genesis of the complaints is that these users only upgrade their software every other or every third new release (every third— what are you thinking!). They feel that the monthly fee amounts to an Adobe tax. We’ve run the numbers with our CPA and find that even if you upgraded every other version, subscription pricing is a better deal. Moreover, when you consider the time value of money you will quickly recognize that subscription-only is an exceptional cash management tool.


But here is why I love the subscription-only program. As an Adobe instructor, I know my students can afford to work with the latest version, which is what we teach. Now, even the least affluent student can manage Photoshop or the entire suite of software. Subscription pricing opens access to almost everyone, and expands the user base. Who knows how many new creative talents will emerge now with such low cost access.

In spite of all the press, tutorials, and a successful year of operation, many folks still do not understand the Creative Cloud and thus they make decisions on false information.  This is the simple truth:

First, though you download your software from the cloud, you do not work in the cloud. You download the software and install it on your drive, just as you did in the past.

CC-imageSecond, you do not need an Internet connection to use the software.  You use the program on your drive and save your work on your drive(s), not in the cloud, (though Adobe does offer free in the cloud file sharing services and other goodies).

Third, you can update your software automatically through the Adobe Application Manager.

Fourth, your applications are always available as long as you pay your subscription fee.

Fifth, you pay monthly, a great cash management tool.

So, I hope this short blog helps lift the cloud over the cloud.

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9 thoughts on “A Cloud Over the Cloud

  1. It’s interesting to hear the perspective of the people who are petitioning for boxed software to continue… I for one jumped on the Creative Cloud bandwagon last year and am loving it. I would never have paid for the full suite before, but now I have access to all the programs, and the monthly fee is definitely affordable.

    And I’m not sure what kind of a case these folks think they would have bringing this to congress or Obama… That’s kinda hilarious.

  2. Bob,

    Same here…

    I think the option for purchasing Photoshop is a little scary $-wise than it was before for students. For $20 a month they can continue to use Ps after their trial ends, rather than spend $100’s and/or purchase Elements or Lightroom.

  3. Bob;

    Great post. I have been totally amazed at this response to the Creative Cloud. So many acted like it was a personal attack on them by Adobe. I understand that for some, a constant monthly charge might be a hardship, after all I’m 64, retired and living on a fixed income, but, if you can’t afford $20 a month for your hobby, maybe you should be looking for another hobby.

    I found that I’m now able to afford the whole suite now where it would have been difficult before. I think that it would be great if Adobe could offer a photographers bundle of Lightroom and Photoshop for, say, $25. That might appease some of those that think it is all to expensive. Having seen some of the work on these forums, I wonder what these folks actually use photoshop for. Suggesting that they could use Elements also caused violent reactions. I think for many it was the status of saying they use Photoshop is their main driving force. $20 a month for Photoshop is not that bad. Sure $5 would be great, after all, can’t we all use some extra cash, but $20 isn’t that bad.

    Without trying to sound like and old curmudgeon, in the 70’s, I spent more than $20 a month on B&W film and the chemicals to develop it. Considering inflation between then and now, it would be close over $60 now. Now don’t even talk about the cost of color. Considering that you no longer have to buy all these supplies, $20 isn’t bad. I don’t think most of those complaining even produce prints themselves.

    I even wonder if they actually even take any photos as it seems most of there time is spent on these forums complaining. Me, I’ve got to go now as I’m working on some images.


    1. 65 years old/young, semi-retired. I used to spend monthly on film and chemicals and paper as well, not to mention Kodachrome costing me 60-cents (in mid-1970 dollars) each time I pressed the button. Being able to do all the processing I want for an affordable monthly fee is an absolute bargain.

  4. I am disappointed in the Creative Cloud and a financial disadvantage for myself, even though I upgraded every version. First of all you imply that it costs $695 to upgrade, when it is only $200 if you already have a relatively recent version. New versions generally appear every 2 years, especially if you wait for any initial bugs to be discovered and worked out. That is $100 per year vs $240 for working in the cloud. Yes you get all Adobe software, but if you don’t need or use it, that provides no advantage. Also, although you work on your own computer, the Adobe CC needs to “check in” at intervals to confirm continuing payment on your subscription or it will stop working. So if you stop paying your subscription fee, you have nothing at all, as opposed to a very functional, if somewhat outdated CS6. That is probably my biggest concern, if I go to the cloud I have to pay forever or completely lose functionality. This argument is analogous to renting vs buying a home. Some have good reasons to rent, others to buy. I prefer to have the choice.

    1. Thanks for all the comments. Rich has a good point about upgrade costs, but the user base is rapidly shifting. By this I mean that more people are multiple application users. For example photographers use Lightroom and Photoshop together more frequently today then they did 3 years ago. 60% of all Photoshop users are also InDesign users, and thus the Cloud decisions affect the largest part of the user base. Unfortunately Adobe is not providing other options, however they are looking at continued functionally options for processed files. We’ll have to see how this unfolds, but for our shop which uses four programs a day this is a blessing.

  5. I will probably use CC going forward but, how long will the $240 a year last for Photoshop before the price increase. Kind of weird to not have the option of opting out at some point and using what you have until you feel the need to change. At lease that’s been my M.O. Change is always tough.

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