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Adobe Exploring Less Expensive Subscription Options for Creative Cloud

06.17.13 @ 5:26PM Tags : , , , , ,

Adobe Creative CloudAdobe CC, the new Creative Cloud only suite that is replacing CS6, should be launching at some point tonight. But if you’re one of the many who haven’t been happy with the new approach, or you’d like to play the wait-and-see game, there might be some other options down the road, especially for those people who would like indefinite access to all of their files even if they are no longer subscribing to CC.

There has been a rather large outcry about the fact that you lose all access if you stop subscribing to CC. While you could certainly take your files to another computer with the suite installed (or just subscribe for another month if you need access to old files), having access is certainly better than not having access. Adobe has been sending out surveys asking users about pricing options, which might also include a copy of CS6 to keep. Here’s Photo Rumors on that:

The company recently sent out a survey to a selected users about the Creative Cloud, specifically about a new pricing structure of $9.99 for Photoshop or $29.99 for the entire suite on a 3 years contract which includes a permanent copy of CS6 after 3 years and a promise to continually update CS6 to support future file and camera types.

That last part might not be the relief that many wanted, but if Adobe chose to offer a permanent copy of CS6 and continually updated file type support, I think it would satisfy the needs of most users who would be worried about not having access to their work. It will be interesting to see how they update CC, since they don’t actually need to name new versions anymore. The distinctions between different versions of the programs could be far less specific and more fluid, which would mean that CS6 could be the last full version that it makes sense for Adobe to offer as a standalone suite.

I think the only other way Adobe could make people happy and not necessarily compromise too much on their CC strategy is by offering users the option to continue using the programs after a 3 year subscription, but if they want to update their software, they have to purchase another three-year agreement.

Aharon Rabinowitz, who has worked extensively with Red Giant and uses Adobe software quite a bit, mentioned in a recent post that Adobe is looking at all options and wants feedback from users about what might work best for them given the current CC restrictions (which could include the ability to render out old work but not save new changes). He also explained part of the reason Adobe has decided to go all CC in the first place:

One thing that was really surprising was learning the following: Under American corporate law, as a publicly traded company, Adobe is forbidden from giving away free upgrades. By law, a publicly traded corporation has one single responsibility: to look after their shareholders. Giving away anything for free could legally represent a serious conflict of that directive. So we’re clear – this is not Adobe’s choice – this is American corporate law. The basis for this can be found in THIS ARTICLE.  I won’t lie – it’s hard to read. Without help I had trouble understanding what it all meant. And it gets worse HERE.

And later:

The result of this has been that once Adobe releases a product, they have to wait until the next version of the software – a year or more – to add new, significant features. This is true even if the work has already been completed, and said features are ready to go eight or nine months before that next major release.

Creative Cloud, a subscription model, with a perpetual payment setup, gets around this rule. Under Subscription, Adobe can give away as many updates and upgrades as they want. And because of this the After Effects team is now freed up to have 2 to 3 updates a year for after effects.

It certainly paints Adobe in a slightly different light, though it’s unclear why they wouldn’t make a detail like this more obvious in their communications with customers. We’ll see how this plays out over the coming months, but if you’ve already ordered CC, you should be able to download it sometime soon.

What do you think could be a good compromise between Adobe and users?


[via Photo Rumors]


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Description image 79 COMMENTS

  • If Adobe doesn’t want to ship physical copies of their software anymore, then what I want is Apple Store-style buying and pricing a la carte. I have no use for half the Creative Suite so let me choose what I want, let me download it, keep it until it doesn’t work anymore or upgrade it when and if I choose. The current subscription model restricts choice. Hopefully Adobe realizes this and make some changes. Not expecting any miracles, though.

    • Agreed! I don’t even use half of that stuff so just let me pic what I want to pay for, price it accordingly and let me own it after maybe 3 years and just charge a small fee for major upgrades(not UPDATES). I think Apple has given Adobe too much power when they “revamped” FCP.

    • Yeah, I like that idea. The Apple strategy of offering apps a-la-carte makes a lot more sense.

  • I think $29/mo. with a 3 year contract and a copy at the end is a good deal.

    • I think so too. That’s not too bad. Otherwise I am not a fan of the subscription model.

    • Agreed: $29/month for Production Premium is palatable. I MIGHT be persuaded to pay for “All You Can Eat” for $39/month. Whatever happens, I think they will be forced to have a tiered pricing structure.

    • I think three years feels a little long and intimidating. A lot of software can be released in three years, and who knows where Adobe and the Creative Cloud might be in 2016.

      Not to say that the company will be bankrupt – they’ve been around for ages – but Photoshop has picked up more competition in the past few years than before.

      I’m a hobbyist who’s been OK with the one-year subscription.

  • No matter what other rational Adobe gives for going subscription based, the biggest reason, by far, is to reduce piracy… and I can’t blame them for that. Photoshop is probably one of the most pirated programs in the world.

    • I disagree, I have CC and the programs work exactly the same in regard to piracy, so the usual hacks will probably be just as easy to implement. All the Adobe programs still connect to a central licensing system, it’s just the specific way that licensing system works that’s different.

      I personally believe Adobe because they have been very aggressive in the last couple of years in developing new technology, and it makes sense that they want more freedom to role updates out to stay competitive.

    • I don’t condone piracy.

      That being said, I pirated a version of Photoshop 3.0 from a high school lab many moons ago. I took it home, learned it, and have given Adobe many thousands of dollars since.

      Does Adobe want their software pirated? No. But is that their number one priority? probably not.

      BTW, I want Freehand back. Bastards.

      • The old Microsoft Mantra was “we’d rather have people pirate Office and get into the habit of relying on it, than buy other software and NOT need it.” Then when they ruled the world, they stopped makingOffice better and just started moving things around in the menus to make it seem different. Lipstick on a pig.

  • Anthony Marino on 06.17.13 @ 5:44PM

    All I know is they better fix warp stabilizer and the dreaded AVCHD bug.

  • I’m highly skeptical of the claim that American companies are barred from giving away free upgrades. I’m not a lawyer and I don’t know the ins and outs of this, but think about all the free upgrades Apple has released for Final Cut Pro X. Major features were added. And that’s just one out of hundreds of examples that we could come up with ranging across many software companies.

    • Major features like a 3d camera tracker or a lite version of Cinema 4D?

    • Or the fact that iOS is always a free upgrade.

      Also, this is why I think the stock market ruins business for the consumer, “By law, a publicly traded corporation has one single responsibility: to look after their shareholders”.

      That’s BS, how about the corporation has a responsibility to take care of the customer that is buying their product. If the stock market didn’t exist, I think the products we would get would be so much better, but right now, shareholder profit is all that anyone cares about. Sucks.

    • You’re right Ben. That’s total baloney. Of course publicly traded companies must always try to maximize shareholder’s value. But giving away free upgrades to create customer loyalty is well within their prerogative – and publicly traded companies give away free stuff all the time. That’s modern marketing. Aharon is kind of talking out of his ar*s%.

    • Actually, it is true. It’s a law called Sarbannes-Oxley that messes things up (blame Enron). I’ve worked at other software companies (yes, big ones that make NLEs) that are frustrated by the very same thing. Before I got into software, I wasn’t aware of it. Apple is able to get around it by deferring revenue. See this article for an explanation:

    • If Adobe wants to get around this provision in law (if it’s really as mandatory as they say), they can include a condition such as “The purchase price includes all updates yet to be released for the lift of the product.”

      I’m skeptical that the law mandates that they do this, though: they state explicitly that the software is licensed, not sold. If you’ve bought a license to Creative Suite, that can (indeed, should) include all updates to that suite.

  • I want to subscribe but the price in Europe is much more expensive then in the states and on principle I won’t pay more when there’s no good reason. Now I’m thinking that new mac pro and learn fcpx

    • I’ve been messing around with lightworks a little bit ( I haven’t done a paid job on it yet. It is a little bit of a learning curve, if you are coming from FCP 7 or Premiere Pro.

      Good editing isn’t platform dependent (but quality tools sure help).

      Windows only. I think Linux is in beta, and a mac version is in alpha.

      I use Adobe Products at work, but have been trying use as much free software as a kind of experiment (i.e. gimp, lightworks, openoffice, etc.)

    • Yep, works out to almost $70/month in my currency, far too high

  • Wow, I’d love the 3-year $29/mo. option! That’s only $360 per year!

  • Dan Herrick on 06.17.13 @ 5:58PM

    Do you have to load your source files to the cloud in order for the Premiere projects to work? Wouldn’t that take forever? Or do you only have to load it up in order to take advantage of the tam aspect of editing a project??

    Has anyone heard about the Adobe Anywhere for Video? Nobody at Adobe seems to have even thought it’s on there site!

    • You don’t have to put anything in the cloud if you don’t want. The physical programs and media all sit on your hard drive unless you want to upload it.

    • Adobe Anywhere requires servers and is only meant for high end facilities and broadcasting. The cloud works like dropbox and does not actually have any direct functionality with the programs other than updating the programs.

  • If that his the law, why can Apple update FCPX so many times in the past few years adding many substantial features?

  • “….and a promise to continually update CS6 to support future file and camera types.” what does this exactly mean?? 30$ (i hope 22€ in spain).. is a good deal for 3 years and have a copy ..

  • It’s an interesting pricing model. The $29/mo I’d happily commit to, but for us UK users it’s currently pricing at £46.88 (just over $74) which seems completely unfair and hard to justify when compared to the US pricing.

    • Andreas Kopriva on 06.17.13 @ 7:46PM

      Yea, it’s a similar disparity with Euro as well. I’m currently paying €60 or thereabouts. I think the way they justified it is that the cost of local implementation offsets the initial price. For example, in Australia, wages are significantly higher which means that they need to offset that additional cost of maintaining the service by charging a larger premium for it.

    • It’s frustrating isn’t it! Does it cost that much more for servers/bandwidth etc in the UK? I doubt it.

      Still I’ve been a CC subscriber for almost a year now and will have paid about £550 pound for the whole year – not bad considering I use the main adobe software line up pretty much every day,

  • If Adobe could level european and american prices, there will be no issues at all.
    But, if they keep the price difference, they will probably loose all the advantage they gained over Apple.

  • Wonderful news! I switched from Apple/FCP X to Adobe because of Creative Cloud. I couldn’t afford Avid, hated FCP X and would have had to settle for a lower grade NLE if it weren’t for this offering. The biggest benefit for me is I’m in academics. $20 a month is a no-brainer.

  • Thanks for linking Aharon’s post. I was so angry at Adobe but no longer.

  • Well, in response to Adobe’s move, I tried out Edius Pro and couldn’t be happier. What a great program — solid, fast, and well thought out.

    • If all you are doing is editing then Edius is a great program. I stopped using it back at v3 to switch to Adobe but I’m thinking of relearning it now to teach at college. If I’m not mistaken it actually has 3 versions Express, Neo and Pro and they ALL work the same with the only difference being features/codec support. That means I can teach a complete beginner class and they can get Express for around $60. Because the interface is identical they can always step up later to Neo for $200 or Pro for $600.

      The other option Im looking at for teaching is Vegas. Version 12 seems to have really come of age and is a steal at around $340 or the suite for $690 which makes Edius look a tad overpriced considering its ‘just’ an editor. Again you can get the entry level Movie Studio suite for $60 which appears to handle just like Vegas.

      From a training perspective this leaves Adobe out in the cold. They only offer Premiere elements at the over inflated price of $90 and while its good for the beginner, handles nothing like Prem Pro. So not only is their no progressive path with Adobe, the price gap if you do step up to Pro is huge at a minimum of $240 per year EVERY SINGLE YEAR!!!

      I’m heavily invested in After Effects and Photoshop so for me the suite monthly rental makes good sense. Its just a pity I cant teach what I know and love to students as I don’t believe the value proposition exists currently.

      • Edius has, in my opinion, very good color correction as well in version 6. Also, there’s a deep student/teacher discount available.

  • Adobe should offer the ‘Cloud’ option for those who want it, and a downloadable “yearly” upgrade for those of us who’d rather have a choice… they can lower the price as much as they like to hook us in, but they can also raise it as well sighting some other nonsense about US corporate law etc. C’mon Adobe… how about offering your dedicated customers a choice of how we give you our money – the only choice they’ve given us is “to use Adobe or not use Adobe” – how is that a good business model? I’m hoping this backfires big style!

    • I agree, have a downloadable yearly upgrade or a full version upgrade every two years as they did before. And this idea of losing your ability to open your files except in cs6 is bogus. The reasons they give regarding US corporate law don’t ring true. The real reason in making more money and getting out of the small artist market.

    • well if you subscribe to CC you download all the software to your computer, you use it offline if you wish…you only need a connection every 30 days to confirm your subscription. The problem is when you stop paying you are not able to use the software anymore…so the cloud is not so cloud XD.

    • That sounds a lot like the quote from Henry Ford at the beginning of the auto era. He said that customers ‘could have any color [Ford automobile] they wanted, as long as it is black.’

  • I was reading many of the comments and going, “Yeah, exactly!”, in my head. Then I suddenly realized…..we are a complete pain in the ass sector to service. My overall feelings haven’t changed, but from a business perspective, we complain a ton and don’t actually bring in that much revenue for all our complaining.

    I still agree with a ton of view points that have been mentioned, but we kinda suck at being right. If anybody talked to me the way we talk about Adobe, Apple, Avid, etc., I’d be liable to watch them burn to death without batting an eyelash.

    I think we’re still right about many things, but feel like many companies have to spend a ton of time being civil to a non-civil audience. That’s wasted energy no matter how you look at it.

    I don’t have any brilliant solutions, but urge people to focus a bit on not just the message, but the tone we deliver it in…..not a potshot at anyone in particular, but an overall impression that just struck me from reading up about this issue and others.

    • All software companies have to deal with angry customers. Go to any customer service center and listen to the experiences of the worker there. nuff said.

      • Maybe, that’s true, but it doesn’t mean we can’t be the first to improve the quality of our dialogue. Heck, due to are small relative size, it might be better for us long term to buck that trend.

  • That means about 1100 after 3 years of the subscription (30 dollars a month after 3 years) Doesn’t sound like a bad idea?

    • Sounds like a really bad idea to me. I did Photoshop upgrades every couple of years so, a 3 year run for me would average out to the price of 1 and a half upgrade fees.

  • What do I think could be a good compromise between Adobe and users?
    Easy… make subscriptions available to those who want them with continuous, seamless upgrades.
    And, make upgrades and full versions available, periodically, for download for those wanting to own copies of the software outright.

  • I always used the american version, so why isn`t that cheaper than the localized ones? They have no lame excuses for that anymore since with CC they cut out the middle men (dealers) and in short time the new free trade agreement between the U.S. and Europe comes on top, too, which erases any further arguments like taxes.

  • I can get behind the $30/mo “three-year subscription plus permanent copy” model.
    It’s good that Adobe has heard the complaints and is at least reacting in some way to them.

    That said, I’d think the ideal middle ground, between the continuously-paid $50/mo model and their old retail model, would be simply a regularly-updated online marketplace for the programs.
    So, one would be able to buy the full CC suite for maybe $2600 (as is the retail price for CS6 Master Collection) at any point in time to receive the most up-to-date version available. Maybe a customer purchasing their programs this way would receive six months to a year of feature updates.
    After a specified time expires, the user would then have to pay a standard price to receive content and functionality updates. A system of price progression with a hard limit would work well: $60 for one month’s worth of updates, $100 for two months, $150 for three months, and so on. Perhaps it would max out at $500 after a period of one year, and stop there, progressing further only after another year had passed.
    With such a system in place, Adobe would be free to release new features fluidly while customers would have the option of buying those features when they need them, or not at all. It wouldn’t slow down Adobe’s development process, since updates would always be required to be cumulative (all or nothing). Problem solved.

    Add in the interesting idea of fixed-length subscriptions coupled with guaranteed ownership after the subscription’s end, and Adobe then has three business models that can work for a wide variety of customers. Crisis averted.

  • Mountain Hut Films on 06.18.13 @ 10:16AM

    I don’t really understand why corporate law in the USA prevents free upgrades as that’s exactly what happens with many apps on the iPhone and ipad after purchase of the original app. Why is it different for Adobe ?

    A subscription option is fine as one choice. But why not offer a stand alone purchase once a year of the upgrades of the previous year as at present. Some people would still opt for subscription so as not to wait a year for enhancements and because it suits their business model. What’s wrong with consumer choice ?

    • I’ve been running my own Corporation for going on 6 years. I’ve never heard or read about any such corporate law preventing free upgrades. This likely a confusion with Adobe’s own internal policy to its own shareholders.

      • Brett McLemore on 06.18.13 @ 11:22AM

        First of all, its not all corporations, its publicly traded corporations. It has to do with Sarbanes-Oxley which protects investors. That’s why you can see a bunch of companies give away free updates because they aren’t public. This won’t apply to private companies.

        As far as Apple, I can’t be for sure, but I’ve read comments that they might be deferring their revenue on it…which they can do, but most other companies can’t.

  • Does Adobe see a significant CSR upside to the current version of CC? Meaning, does it take far fewer Customer Service Reps to service CC than hard copies? Is the system simpler to service, maintain, and streamline from a hiring and training perspective? I’m wondering that on the software side, as well. Is it easier to streamline the process for upgrades this way? We all know people who’ve had upgrade nightmares.

    Lastly, agree with the person mentioning CC as an anti-piracy measure. It isn’t it making it inherently easier to pirate, but inherently easier to afford has the same effect. Many more people can swing $50/month than the single lump sum payment prior to CC.

    One possible issue with tiered pricing is that there will always be an orphaned program that nobody wants and that programs funding would fall to zero.

    You donate to a college because of the football team, but they also use it for funding that 17th century poetry course.

  • The upgraded to CS5.5 also included a free upgrade to CS6 when it would become available. I did not even bother because that was obviously the path to the CC, which I do not believe as a business model will offer the users what a competitive market can offer. In other words, if you have locked income for 3 years, there is no hurry to innovate…money is in the bank already. Besides that, I have found utterly disgusting the fact that a simple vector drawing up to Illustrator 9 was just over 500 Kb, but same file brought up into CS2 was over 2.5 megs and by CS4 was close to 4 megs, just by re-saving it !! all bloated needless code and metadata tracking stuff. who in their right mind think that is the way towards better and more stable code? It makes business sense for Adobe, but not for MY business.

    • I’ve been with Adobe since the first CS (actually started on Premiere 6…), and Adobe’s done a great job over the years from my perspective. Premiere CS4 especially made the steps forward necessary to solidify it as a competent competitor to FCP. CC is noticeably faster and slimmer, and as it happens I noticed that a Premiere project that on CS6 was 400mb, is now just over 50mb in CC. And I’ve seen no indication that Adobe intends to step back innovation. CS5.5 itself was the first indication that Adobe wanted to iterate faster than they were able to at the time (Warp stabilizer being one of the big features they wanted to roll out). I personally look forward to all the nifty stuff they’ve been experimenting with to come to fruition.

      • I appreciate your view point. I am glad it works for you. I agree about 5.5 which aloows to work on mixed formats, I like it a lot, but still produce bloated files. I only tried CS6 in Photoshop and illustrator at another studio to retouch some titles…I did not find how to remove some shadows easily and after half an hour was back at my place to do it. The fact that the CC files are smaller for me is a proof that all the bloated metadata that was paging Adobe servers is not needed anymore because you are already there. Nice, eh?

        • Well, Premiere seems to run the same way it did before…that is, it kind of defers all the license stuff to the Adobe license handling system. I actually suspect the smaller file size is due to a more efficient Warp Stabilizer. In any case if I were you I’d keep an eye on CC…Adobe seems committed to pushing things forward. For example adding PluralEyes style audio syncing in Premiere…they didn’t need to do that since PluralEyes exists. Or adding DNxHD MXF support, which kinda came out of nowhere. Or Cinema 4D Lite.

          • Thank you for your advice. We use Adobe products in our companies based on what they can do now. Whatever CC offers in the Future is irrelevant. We will never subscribe. Other companies will move in to satisfy demand. Remember Kodak? too big to fail, isn’t it?

  • Here is a tidbit that I think may be of interest. Earlier this year I received a free upgrade of NIK plugins from Google (they purchased NIK) and this may indicate and interest by Google in perhaps entering into sophisticated image processing. If so, it may introduce some interesting competition. Further, it will not be surprising to see more companies creating specialized image processing apps using the Apple App Store model as MacPhun has already created with Snapheal.

  • I want to call bullshit on their “can’t upgrade because it’s against corporate law” reasoning. Here’s why: iOS. Apple updates iOS for free every time there’s a new upgrade. They’re not getting penalized or thrown in jail for it.

  • I don’t buy this Sarbanes Oxley theory. I’m no lawyer but I read the linked article here. Maybe I missed it but it says nothing about giving away freebies. The act has only to do with when public companies must report revenue.

    If something is given away. no revenue is collected or ever expected. So why would a company be expected to even report it on their financial and tax statements? It’s not revenue generating and thus has nothing to do with Sarabanes Oxley regulations re when to reporting income or when to defer reporting income.

    Am I wrong on that?

    I’ll be happy if Adobe gives me a choice: CC as they have it now or an annual purchase that allows nothing more than bug fixes for that period but which allows me to own and fully use the app (or suite) even after a subscription lapses.

  • Come on…
    Give me a break.
    They’re going to spin this as much as they can to make it look like they’re giving you a great deal, that they’re on your side – It’s not their fault – they can’t do XYZ etc etc. They’re going to look into xyz they’re want to do xyz to make you happy etc etc….

    Bottom line – They want their numbers to look good for this move. They want to lock you in. They want you to signup and put your pocket book on autopilot.

    Those conversion numbers are sooooo important they’re bending a little bit and giving you assurance they’re listening etc etc. And some of you folks are buying into it.

    You settle for what you get. And you get what you settle for.

  • As a long time user of Adobe products, I reluctantly started my CC membership, as I wish to take advantage of new features only available in the CC products. While some feel the CC membership cost is a “savings”, this is ONLY true when compared to doing the yearly upgrades. Even then, it is not a huge savings. That said, there are potential advantages to the CC concept, such as immediate upgrades and bug fixes. However, I feel Adobe is forcing our hand and I bristle at this in a big, big way.

    After starting my CC membership, I noticed there were bug fixes available for my CS6 apps. Before applying any updates, I checked for updates within the CS6 apps, and every one of them claimed to be up to date. Thus, it appears that CS6 users are not getting bug fixes UNLESS they are CC members. This suggests to me that Adobe has already turned their backs on CS6 users.

    I am dependent on Adobe products for my income, and generally enjoy using them. I feel the new CC versions are substantial upgrades. However, I strongly dislike being forced to upgrade at whatever cost Adobe deems appropriate in the future. Microsoft has stated they are considering this for MS Office, and Corel has stated an interest in this model, too. Not everyone needs to upgrade on a yearly basis, but once you start down this path there is no turning back. You’ve been warned…

  • More than 37,000 folks have signed.They don’t like Adobe CC licensing.Show @Adobe how you feel.

    Another more fiscal way to show @Adobe you dont like the CC licensing scheme. #adobe2014

  • Although I would like some of the features and options detailed above – the one thing I would most want is parity between American prices and the rest of the world.
    It is disgraceful that the pricing structure is set to “what they can get away with” as the Australian situation proved.
    I’d would jump at paying the current American prices, let along what is proposed above, but their pricing is far too high so I am forced to look elsewhere – and I am finding plenty of free or low-cost alternatives.
    They are not as good or convenient but they are a fair price.
    It is just this sort of thing that creates piracy so Adobe better look out or casual users will be avoiding Adobe products.