As with most Adobe customers have learned, Adobe has recently made the decision to axe all future retail boxed models and offer a subscription based system under the flagship name of Adobe Creative Cloud. You can read the official press statement by clicking here from the Adobe Max event. I’ve followed the CC development for months ever since it was a swingin’ idea on the tip of Adobe’s marketing spear and it’s been an emotional and opinionated ride that I haven’t developed an opinion on until recent.
There’s plenty to discuss from a personal side of things but I’ll also try and touch objectively on what I feel the positives/ negatives are on this new way to take the Adobe brand. First we’ll start with the objective part however so that anyone reading can first try and develop a fair opinion of the service that suits their own needs. If you haven’t actually seen what Adobe Creative Cloud has to offer, check it out here. In regards to the CC, I’ll mainly be addressing the inclusive subscription package that retails for $49.99USD for new customers or for existing customers, $29.99USD.
- Up to date software
- Access to entire library
- Workflow integration with Cloud services for multi-device operations
- Brings “affordable” access to everyday software gurus
- Protects against piracy through constant subscription confirmation
- Larger than life
- No previous versions granted through the Cloud
- No license, even on a rent-to-own basis
- Pique performance
The Adobe CC offers the most up to date software and access to their entire library through the subscription method. This sounds great and might even be fun granted the sharpen/ anti vibration tool (still too early to call it “deblur”) but it lacks the important nod to the industries that Adobe grew out from. While businesses in the past used to upgrade Adobe software every 2-5 years to stay current while on budget this plan is being derailed in an extremely eye-opening way under the new subscription model. Adobe I feel has hit their reasonable pique and since the cancellation of retail licenses to software such as the Master Collection or Design Suite for example, Adobe Creative Suite 6 might be Adobe’s piece de resistance contribution to our world. In other words, Adobe’s usefulness may have just run its course and everything depends on where our market in masses wants to go. Of recent we typically held to Adobe products for years at a time because it was more cost effective to own the suite for a period long enough where it become an easily budgeted item until we had to upgrade to again be current. This wasn’t the only motivation however as from versions 6-12 we saw some absolutely stunning updates that have absolutely revolutionized the workplace and how we design with software tools. Such innovation inspired us to fork over the cash for such added features that out of self-preservation just made life easier. Lately however, mind blowing features have become fewer and further between as the Creative Suite progressed. Adobe however like so many publicly traded company belongs to the share holders and have additional responsibilities. I think this is best represented by the bloatware/ larger than life concept of 10+ additional programs included in the package that many customers may not even open. Does this mean that Adobe is tapped for ideas? Innovation or purpose? I’m not willing to go that far. Their development has brought them this far and brought them up to what I feel a quite divine product but therein lies the issue. Where could they go further that will revolutionize workflow and make the extra dollar spent worth it? Staying “up to date” for anyone who services the print industry has actually always been a pitfall. The newest is rarely the best and compatibility is always an issue when it comes to most print houses effectively running your job. One would debate that a well aged product would perform better here. My largest issue however with this is the lack of ability to own the license, even if you pay its value in full over time. Even most car dealerships have rent-to-own plans and I’ve always felt that if a business was going through hard times they wouldn’t need to worry about a potentially devastating subscription fee (ie. 6x$30) and be left without tools for jobs just because they couldn’t afford a few months of subscriptions. Even with an old version of the creative suite you have a fall back plan, something that I’ve always been fond of when it comes to business and customer service. Tied to this is my concern for access to older versions. Admittedly this concern only goes away if you’ve been a loyal Adobe customer for years. Without previous installed versions on your workstation you face having to cross your fingers and hope that Adobe’s compatibility save mode will work for you and hoping is the strongest name of that game because of the new features added. To end this however I’ll say that in positives, this decreases a lot of “broken” design that I feel plagues the market and gives graphic designers and other media freelancers/ businesses bad names from pirates who have little concern for clients (or lack the necessary training/ experience for the position which usually comes with the respect for licensed software) and introduces the system to new customers who would be otherwise unable to experience Adobe services without an extensive price tag exceeding hundreds of dollars just for a start-up fully featured version.
How Could We Improve This?
I’ve asked that question for awhile and given my position I’d like to see the end of the current Creative Cloud system. I think this could be a truly powerful system for consumers if Adobe adopted a rent-to-own system selected at the start of your contract. This would ensure that if you wanted to go on payment plan, you could and that years later (without paying maybe x1.5 product value) own the product solely through the rental plan. I would accept collateral damage of this plan with something such as a low interest rate for the inconvenience of them not realizing their full investment initially. Other improvements might include
- Current rental/ subscription system for niche users
- Access to 2 previous versions of the purchased content
- Better package deals
- Owned licenses
The Creative Cloud has true potential, but less as a product line and more of a supporting service than a long standing line of software offered by Adobe Systems Inc. I would have no issues paying for subscriptions for the ability to work anywhere with multi-workstation enabled licenses (access to the same account anywhere by login) or for my files to be valid through multi-device usage. Turning it into its own product line means that for many, the concept of owning software will become a foreign idea and any lapse in budget might bring the smallest of us to our knees. Without additional incentive through price planning, package deals and new features/ incentives to stay with the current Adobe innovation I might see myself looking for alternatives in the future if an upgrade is necessary. For now I’ll stick to sinking my money into the well made Indie font market.