By now you have probably heard about Adobe’s decision to stop development of Adobe Creative Suite (which includes such software as Photoshop and Illustrator) and move to a completely different subscription-only model. In short, Adobe does not want to sell packaged versions of its software anymore and wants you to instead pay for select software packages or the whole Creative Suite on a monthly basis. With the new Adobe Creative Cloud subscription strategy, you will no longer be able to purchase boxed software – you will have to pay a monthly subscription for using either individual software such as Photoshop, or pay for the whole suite. There will be no other option. Software will be delivered over the Internet and once you get it installed, it will make occasional requests over the Internet to Adobe.com to verify your subscription status.
Our readers might be wondering what we at Photography Life think about this change, so here is my personal take. I think this is by far the most arrogant and selfish decision on behalf of Adobe. While I actively use Photoshop, Illustrator and Lightroom software for my work, I am already considering alternatives at this point. Not because I find the pricing to be too high, but because I think what Adobe is doing is simply wrong.
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Adobe Software Update Past
Historically, Adobe released new versions of Creative Suite software every couple of years. As new versions of software were rolled out overtime, Adobe had a lot of challenges with getting people to upgrade to the latest version. Continuous development and innovation are both costly for a software development company, so Adobe worked hard on adding new and useful features to lure people into upgrading. At the same time, Adobe had to fix problems and deliver updates on existing versions for certain modules like Camera RAW that had to be kept up-to-date due to new camera releases. At one point, Adobe executives decided to cease the development of Camera RAW on older versions of Creative Suite and only push those updates if you owned the latest version. So if you bought a new camera and wanted to be able to open up its RAW files, you had no choice but to upgrade.
What we are seeing now, is a step further in the same direction. Now you have no choice to upgrade – the “upgrades” will be delivered free of charge, as long as you continue to pay the subscription fees.
Adobe Creative Cloud is not a Traditional SaaS
A lot of people got confused by the term “Creative Cloud”, because the word “cloud” typically means that the software lives on the Internet and is run through a browser. While Creative Cloud certainly comes with integrated cloud services, it is not your traditional Software as a Service (SaaS) model. For typical SaaS software, you pay a monthly fee for accessing and storing your data. Since the data is stored completely on the cloud, you must have an active Internet connection in order to use it. Because of this, most SaaS software is browser and device agnostic – you rarely need a “thick” client to access it. In the case of Adobe Creative Cloud, it is a completely different story. Because Adobe applications require a lot of computer resources, it is impractical to put everything into the cloud. The Internet speed is simply not there to support such graphics-heavy applications. What Adobe has done instead, is offer some services (such has online storage and collaboration) that are accessible via the Internet and the rest of it is the same old Adobe Creative Suite that does not need the connection to the Internet.
Problems with Creative Cloud Subscription Model
By seizing the development of Creative Suite boxed software, Adobe is leaving no choice for current CS users that want to upgrade in the future. While this might not be a big deal for people that occasionally use Photoshop to edit their old photos, think of what happens when you buy a brand new camera. Unless you upgrade to a subscription model, you will not be able to open its RAW files anymore. Your only workaround will be to get the latest version of DNG converter and convert all RAW files to DNG format before you can open them in older versions of Lightroom / Photoshop. Here is a summary of problems with the Creative Cloud:
- You never own the software – you are paying a monthly subscription fee and you will never own the software license.
- You have no control over pricing – if Adobe decides to charge more for the Creative Cloud, you will be forced to pay more.
- You cannot sell the software – since you don’t own it, you cannot sell it. In the past, if you bought Photoshop and decided to get rid of it, you could transfer your license to another person and recover at least part of your investment.
- You lose access when you don’t pay – everyone goes through tough times. If for some reason you cannot pay for the software, you will lose access to it.
- It is expensive – for those who only want to use Lightroom and Photoshop, the Photography package at $10 per month is a good deal. However, if you need other software such as Premiere, be prepared to pay $20 per month per software. In fact, many will probably choose the whole Creative Cloud bundle at $50 per month (requires annual commitment), which translates to $600 per year in subscription fees. Everyone on the Internet seems to be doing math based on retail box versions of Adobe products, plus upgrade fees. When was the last time you paid full price for a software product? Deals can be found all the time, so it is not like most people pay the full price to start with. I have been a Photoshop user for over 10 years now and I only paid for it once. I upgraded it two or three times and at one point went from CS2 to CS5. I was never forced to upgrade and did it only when I was interested in the new version and features. Thus, for many like me, the new monthly subscription model is much more expensive compared to an upgrade fee every 2-3 years.
- Adobe Creative Cloud requires high speed Internet – first, you have to be able to download gigabytes of data over the Internet. I feel sorry for anyone that is on slow networks, especially abroad. Second, you must periodically download large updates when they are available. You will need a lot of patience if you are on satellite, slower DSL, etc.
- You lose access to proprietary Adobe files if you stop your subscription – Adobe has many proprietary file formats like PSD, AI, EPS, PPJ, etc. that can only be effectively opened with Adobe products. Once you lose access to Creative Cloud, you will either have to pay the subscription price, or use some other third party tool to open it.
I am sure I am missing other problems, but this is a quick summary of what came to my mind as I was writing this article.
What Adobe Should Have Done
I have been in Information Technology for more than 15 years. I have been through enterprise-wide ERP software implementations, bought and used software and even participated and contributed to large scale software development. Adobe should have learned from other software companies on how to handle its product pricing and strategy before making its Creative Cloud jump. When it comes to software, many companies today offer both packaged and SaaS versions, letting the customer choose what works for their needs. And for many software packages, there is an option to move back from the cloud to a local environment – again, it is all about giving customers choice. But what Adobe has done is what some people referred as “extortion” – a forced migration to future upgrades and limited pricing choices. Heck, even Microsoft commented on Adobe’s decision to move to the subscription model as “premature”.
What Adobe should have done, is give its customer two options – a boxed version with an upgrade path, essentially continuing the Creative Suite line, and a choice to go to the cloud. People that would benefit from collaboration and other benefits of the cloud would choose a subscription model, while everyone else would stay happy with their “owned” copies of the software.
Adobe Creative Cloud Security Fail
On October 3, 2013, Adobe reported that its security was breached and hackers were able to obtain private information including customer names, encrypted credit/debit card numbers, expiration dates and other private data for 2.9 million customers, all part of the Creative Cloud subscription model.
There is no guarantee that this kind of breach will not happen again in the future – even Adobe admits that it is the “reality of doing business today” (see the press release below). Keeping customer data secure is a huge responsibility and Adobe should have tightened its data security before rolling out the Creative Cloud to the masses.
Here is Adobe’s official Press Release:
POSTED BY BRAD ARKIN, CHIEF SECURITY OFFICER ON OCTOBER 3, 2013 8:08 AM IN EXECUTIVE PERSPECTIVES
Cyber attacks are one of the unfortunate realities of doing business today. Given the profile and widespread use of many of our products, Adobe has attracted increasing attention from cyber attackers. Very recently, Adobe’s security team discovered sophisticated attacks on our network, involving the illegal access of customer information as well as source code for numerous Adobe products. We believe these attacks may be related.
Our investigation currently indicates that the attackers accessed Adobe customer IDs and encrypted passwords on our systems. We also believe the attackers removed from our systems certain information relating to 2.9 million Adobe customers, including customer names, encrypted credit or debit card numbers, expiration dates, and other information relating to customer orders. At this time, we do not believe the attackers removed decrypted credit or debit card numbers from our systems. We deeply regret that this incident occurred. We’re working diligently internally, as well as with external partners and law enforcement, to address the incident. We’re taking the following steps:
- As a precaution, we are resetting relevant customer passwords to help prevent unauthorized access to Adobe ID accounts. If your user ID and password were involved, you will receive an email notification from us with information on how to change your password. We also recommend that you change your passwords on any website where you may have used the same user ID and password.
- We are in the process of notifying customers whose credit or debit card information we believe to be involved in the incident. If your information was involved, you will receive a notification letter from us with additional information on steps you can take to help protect yourself against potential misuse of personal information about you. Adobe is also offering customers, whose credit or debit card information was involved, the option of enrolling in a one-year complimentary credit monitoring membership where available.
- We have notified the banks processing customer payments for Adobe, so that they can work with the payment card companies and card-issuing banks to help protect customers’ accounts.
- We have contacted federal law enforcement and are assisting in their investigation.
We are also investigating the illegal access to source code of numerous Adobe products. Based on our findings to date, we are not aware of any specific increased risk to customers as a result of this incident. For more information, please see the blog post here.
We value the trust of our customers. We will work aggressively to prevent these types of events from occurring in the future. Again, we deeply regret any inconvenience this may cause you. If you would like additional information, please refer to Adobe’s Customer Support page.
Chief Security Officer
15 years in the IT industry…..clearly not on the business side.
“In the past, if you bought Photoshop and decided to get rid of it, you could transfer your license to another person and recover at least part of your investment.”
And therein lies why Adobe changed it’s pricing model. They didn’t gain a paying customer, just another person to complain about their software.
The whole software industry is going to the licencing model. Only solution…. write your own programme.
This rant of an article is insane. Your arguments, one by one:
“1. You never own the software.”
You never owned anything to begin with. You payed for a license to use Adobe software and they can revoke it at any time. Every software company can and does do this. Just because it’s on a disc doesn’t mean it’s yours.
“2. You have no control over pricing.”
You can lock in pricing on an annual basis so you have 12 months at your current price. After that, Adobe can do whatever they please just like everybody else. Have you already forgotten that Adobe regularly raised prices of their boxed software, and you bought it anyways?
“3. You cannot sell the software.”
True, but you didn’t pay upfront for it in the first place so there’s nothing to recapture. Unless you think you deserve a refund for the software you have been using.
“4. You lose access when you don’t pay.”
You can pay a lot upfront or a little bit every month. It’s called long-term budgeting. If you have trouble managing your finances, that’s not Adobes fault.
“5. It is expensive.”
Creative Cloud is the exact same price as the perpetual boxed software with upgrades.
Finding “deals” is not something everyone can do. It’s not a fair nor reliable metric, especially considering Adobe has a 40%-off secret link on their site that hardly anyone knows about.
Regarding upgrades, if you can go years without updating to a new version, you are not the target market. I use CC in a work environment and not upgrading means I lose my competitive edge. Even at home, old software just doesn’t work as well.
“6. Adobe Creative Cloud requires high speed Internet.”
This argument is already dated and there are multiple ways around it. Not to mention, it will continue to work with no internet connection for at least 30 days.
“7. You lose access to proprietary Adobe files if you stop your subscription.”
Of course you do. Why would you expect to use Adobe formats outside of Adobe software? This point is not subscription-based anyways. Even an old copy of Photoshop can’t open new psd files unless you specifically saved it with compatibility.
Bottom line is, you have fundamentally misunderstood software license modeling. If you really can’t stand it, there are plenty of other options on the market.
Over 6 million users have signed up to CC. I won’t be joining them. I do not like “bully” tactics.
Hi. Graphic Designer with 20 years experience, I use Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer. Does the same thing, bit of a learning curve to change over but its a one off purchase.
You have nailed it completely! I am currently a user of Adobe Cloud Photoshop and Lightroom included , I think is the Photography plan or kind of…
1) I have travelled to places where the internet is flaky and trying to show my projects to a customer in an Airport , or outdoor place the Cloud service always give me errors, or just need updates where I am in places with no bandwidth to do that.
2) In my desktop the Adobe Cloud is an obtrusive resource hungry app, just now I needed Photoshop to do a minimal retouch and needed an update that killed my machine (I7 with 32 gb or Ram) , I have just updated PS 2 days ago!
3) I have just closed my susbscription to Illustrator and waiting to August to kill all my subscriptions, since they are all annual if I quit now, I will have to pay all the remaining months right away!
Adobe Cloud in this current state is for me a least a total failure, unless you use it only in a desktop in a fixed place an still the obtrusive Cloud App is simply a huge nuissance.
Pardon my english , I am not a native speaker.
I am glad I found this. Lightroom suddenly does not like working with older versions of photoshop and persistently keeps crashing and forcing me to re-enter the license key. I think everyone is well aware of the high levels of piracy with all Adobe products and personally I am not surprised. I am only an occasional user of photoshop and cannot justify the high subscription costs, I do mainly wildlife and spent long periods of time off grid and having to log on every 30 days is not always an option. I do like the Lightroom library and develop modules and use these the most, BUT, Adobe’s new pricing model is making me review my options.
John, Thank you for your suggestions, I am going to look at Affinity and On 1 Photo. If Affinity is as good as you say then Photoshop is finished.
All I need then is a good cataloguing system to replace lightroom.
Adobe are resting on their laurels, the more people and in particular businesses who desert them may make them take notice.
This subscription model is awful. I’ve been using photoshop since CS2, so for 13 years, and am starting to have compatibility issues with CS6. If I would have been paying the current annual subscription price for as long as I’ve been using PS, I would have spent a total of $3120 so far on it, which is far more than i spent on CS2 and upgrades, and I’d be continuing to spend money on it. Total rip off. Whatever happened to buying and owning a product? Also, the limited number of days between online verification is an issue, considering I use Photoshop as my primary stress relief during long Naval deployments. It screws over those of us who are in the military who actually legitamitely purchased the software just because Adobe doesn’t trust it’s users. I am switching to Procreate on iPad.
I’ve switched to On1 Photo RAW and Affinity Photo, Affinity Designer. I urge everyone to try these applications. I wish I’d swapped years ago, Affinity photo leaves Photoshop on it’s backside as does On1 RAW.
From what I have been able to find, even if you try to sell older versions of the Adobe programs, Adobe has found a way to keep people from using them by revoking all serials numbers making a move to the cloud more or less inevitable. If you have an older version of the suites and a working computer you’re safe for now but if your computer breaks down and you need to migrate reusing your old programs will be next to impossible. It’s no wonder people are migrating to other alternatives and so far there are plenty. Gimp, Clip Studio Paint, Sai, Sony Vegas; many of this programs are free or at least AFFORDABLE and don’t require a cloud service to function. Maybe once enough people make a fuss, Adobe will do something but they’re not the only company to suddenly make any sort of actual physical versions of their programs either super expensive when they were once free (I’m looking at you Office) or forcing a stupid cloud only/subscription only model.
There has to be a better way.
New to video editing software and have been studying and investigating. Right off bat do not like the Adobe forced subscription model. FWIW, the DaVinci Resolve editor is free, the one Hollywood editors use. Yes, free. I think Davinci saw what Adobe did and made a move. They give it away free because if you’re in the real Hollywood film editor class, then you’ll be paying tens of thousands of dollars for the DaVinci editing console that’s totally not needed for non Hollywood editors and the like.
Link for info on free DaVinci Resolve editor: www.youtube.com/watch…WCqMgBIhYQ