In case you haven’t read it elsewhere already, this week Adobe announced that Creative Suite 6 (aka CS6), the product set that includes Photoshop and Lightroom, will be the last version of CS. Going forward, there will only be Adobe Creative Cloud (Adobe CC) and all of the products (with the exception of Lightroom) will only be available via a subscription model. This has caused an uproar in some segments of the online photography community and, frankly, I’m at a loss as to why.
Here’s one example, from a photography blog that I (mostly) like, Sound Image Plus:
Well as far as I’m concerned they can ‘Go forth and multiply’ or words to that effect. CS6 is the last time they get any money out of me. I will have nothing to do with a company that tells me how I should work. I will have nothing to do with a company that forces me to do something I do not want to do. They can stuff their ‘cloud’ where the sun doesn’t shine, I want nothing to do with it.
Why the vitriol?
First of all, I don’t see how this is dictating how one should work. The difference between CS6 and CC is that instead of buying a box of discs in a store, you’re downloading stuff to your computer. You’re not working through a browser, you’re not working through some cloud connection, you’re working off software that has been installed to your hard disk, just like every version of Photoshop in the past. The major difference is that when the software starts up, it will check to see if your subscription is still valid and if it isn’t, it will not run. Otherwise, your workflow remains the same.
The drawback in this model, I suppose, is that if I bought CS6 and never purchase an upgrade, CS6 will run forever without my spending another dime. If I subscribe to CC, it will not run forever, it will only run as long as I keep paying.
For me, the advantages of CC outweighed the disadvantages. The biggest advantage for me was that I could get one subscription and install that one subscription everywhere I work. A Lightroom license gives you both the PC and Mac versions but a Photoshop license does not. So when I wanted to get into Photoshop, if I wanted to run it both on my desktop Windows PC and my laptop MacBook, I would have had to buy it twice – at $699 each (currently discounted down to $601 on Amazon). So that’s $1,200. But with Adobe CC, and because I owned an earlier version of Photoshop, I was able to subscribe to the Photoshop-only portion of Adobe CC for $20 per month, $240 per year, and get both the Windows and the Mac versions. So I saved almost $1,000.
CS6 is offered in a bewildering number of packages at a variety of prices. On the low end, the “Design Standard Student and Teacher Edition” retails for $449. On the upper end, the “Design and Web Premium” edition lists for (gulp) $1,899. My understanding is that if one goes for the full Adobe CC package, that’s what you’ll get, at a cost of $600 per year instead of $1900 per pop.
So at the end of a year, if you don’t renew your subscription, you’re out $600 and have no software to run (your files and projects all remain). Versus spending $1900 and having something that would run forever. But I don’t need all those bits – and Adobe has various levels of subscription packages ranging from a Photoshop-only package to the whole shebang.
Some think that Adobe is doing this as a way to combat piracy. That’s just ignorant. As Adobe themselves have admitted, since the software is downloaded to your computer, hackers can and will be able to get at the underlying files, work out an installation package and a hack – and I think that’s already happened. (As someone who occasionally earns income as a photographer, I decided early on that if I don’t want people pirating my work, it would be unethical for me to pirate other peoples’ work – and that goes for the tools I use as well.)
Clearly Adobe expects to make more money this way. They’re not in the business of losing money and they have to increase their revenue every year, just like any other company.
At the end of the day, this is Adobe’s product and they can price it and sell it however the hell they want and the market will decide if it’s right or not. If the model works, if they’re making money, this will continue. If it doesn’t, it won’t. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it, don’t subscribe to it, download Gimp for free and work with that instead.
Me? I think that all this noise is coming from a vocal minority and that the majority of people will see the advantages and fall into line. I think this is merely the next evolutionary step and not the final state. Some day in the relatively near future, when bandwidth gets even larger, when internet connections are even more ubiquitous, when browsers become more advanced, you will no longer download this to your computer, you will work through a browser.
So me, my biggest complaint was that it took Adobe forever to get CC to Hong Kong (my subscription is through the US) but hopefully they have now worked that out. Their web sites still suck though.