For those of you less familiar with Adobe Creative Cloud, it is a subscription-based version of the popular Adobe Creative Suite software.
The primary difference is that customers can pay monthly for individual software or the complete Creative Cloud bundle, rather than purchasing a one-time perpetual license for the software. All upgrades to the Creative Cloud software are free, other than the monthly fee, and there are many Creative Cloud exclusive features and services.
This has created a divide in the creative services community, with those for and against Adobe as a company, or the Creative Cloud as a product, lining up on opposite sides.
It has even sparked its own petition on Change.org:
http://www.change.org/petitions/adobe-systems-incorporated-eliminate-the-mandatory-creative-cloud-subscription-model (petition is now closed. Gathered over 50,000 signatures)
I will attempt to explain some of the controversy and address its main points: Creative Cloud limiting consumer choice; being too expensive for freelancers and small business; and Adobe not being loyal to it’s customers.
Is Creative Cloud a Trap?
Many older users feel that eliminating a perpetual license for the latest and greatest version of the software eliminates choice. They also feel that having to pay a monthly fee would leave them “trapped” or “beholden” to Adobe. They feel that if they want to hold on to the same version of Adobe software for 10 years, they should be able to.
To be fair, that is their right, however, Adobe also has the right to not spend resources keeping that software compatible with new operating systems and hardware as well. It’s the equivalent of asking a Photographer to keep your photos on their hard drive indefinitely even though you haven’t taken pictures with them in three years. It’s just not practical.
On the other hand, paying a monthly fee means dealing with a continual expense rather than a one time expense with upgrades as desired and some people may just feel more comfortable with that than having another “bill”.
Doesn’t Creative Cloud Cost More Over Time?
The actual pricing is not really that different. The subscription for Creative Cloud is $50/month. If you consider that the average Adobe Creative Suite user would usually upgrade every three years, then the price for a Creative Cloud subscription after three years is only marginally higher than a box model license for the same period of time would cost.
View the petition’s contents directly below:
The Content of the Change.org Petition for Adobe Creative Cloud:
Eliminate the mandatory “creative cloud” subscription model.
It seems that you have decided to forsake everyone but big business. Well, you’ve made a mistake. We understand that CS6 is available and still usable, but it is only available and usable for the short-term. Over time, the CC version of the apps will develop and will become better than CS6, similar to how CS6 is better than CS3.
This puts us, the consumers, into a corner. We are in a corner because although we may have the option to use CS6 now, in the future, we will be forced to subscribe to your CC subscription in order to stay relevant with updated software.
The problem is that this is not what the people want. The people want to have a choice between CC and the Creative Suites that you’ve just discontinued development for. So, we want you to restart development for Adobe Creative Suite 7 and all future Creative Suites.
Do it for the freelancers. For the small businesses. For the average consumer. For the people who use your products on an inconsistent basis. Do it for the sake of creating a more beautiful world together.
This is interesting, but it makes little sense. Freelancers usually don’t have the upfront money that agencies do. Just purchasing Adobe Photoshop CS6 would cost around $699.00, a Creative Cloud bundle usually cost $1,599.00, and a Master Collection cost $3,499.00. This prices most freelancers out of the market.
Small businesses are also used to recurring bills, as are individuals, and by comparison a Creative Cloud subscription would be among the least of their business or living expenses as it is only $50.00/month, less than most cellphone, cable and internet plans. It is also theoretically a cost that would have a significant ROI if it is being used by someone who isn’t a hobbyist.
The Truth About Freelancers
Freelancers live project-to-project, month-to-month; many of them use pirated software and can rarely upgrade. Many freelancers have actually been waiting for a solution just like this. Freelancers have to constantly deal with an ever changing cash-flow situation and are used to paying smaller bills rather than making large upfront purchases.
Small Businesses and Creative Cloud
While its true that small businesses prefer the perpetual license model, their Art Departments do not. It is constantly a struggle to get a small business to upgrade software without a good reason, due to those upfront cost. The ability to convert the weekly coffee budget into an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription eliminates this issue, since it will always have the latest features.
So the real answer seems that it just makes some people uncomfortable. If they are concerned about monthly payments being interrupted, they could always prepay for the year. By comparison, in order to continue to maintain individual editions of the Adobe Software series going forward would be a huge cost burden to Adobe and limit the resources for future development.
The main user base, that would arguably be effected, is the one with the least amount of investment – the hobbyist community. If you read the Adobe Forums, the largest outcry is from people who don’t use Adobe products “professionally”. Many take that to mean they are freelancers, but that is not the case as it would be counter productive for a freelancer to say they don’t use Adobe products “professionally”.
It seems there is no practical reason for Adobe to offer something other than CC, aside from to appease a portion of its user base. As of the writing of this article, the Change.org Petition for Creative Cloud has only 47,403 supporters. Adobe currently has over 1 Million Creative Cloud Subscribers.
Many want to believe that this is just about money for Adobe. In truth, while it is about money, it is not in the sinister way that people want to believe. If Adobe continued releasing Creative Suite versions and maintaining them for Windows and Mac – even if they were maintaining only the last 4 versions – that would still be considerably more expensive than maintaining 2.
And if they did so, since new versions are on a 18-24 month release cycle, that means spending millions of dollars to support customers who haven’t necessarily spent money with you in about 6 years. It’s hard to imagine someone running a successful business that way in the long term.
Creative Cloud allows Adobe to focus on making the best products possible in the same way Apple did by discontinuing it’s large product line in the early 2000’s to concentrate on core products. This means that its continually paying customers become its focus and concentration. 10-year-plus customers may be very upset, but it is unrealistic to think that their past loyalty should put their needs above progress and supporting customers what are willing to be invested Adobe today.