Adobe kills Creative Suite, moves to service-based Creative Cloud

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Adobe Creative Suite is no longer a product. It’s a service. What was once just an option, will become the only way to access the Adobe Creative Suite family of applications come 17 June. Creative Suite (CS) will officially be replaced by Adobe Creative Cloud (CC), a subscription-based service with all the bells and whistles that come with the cloud.

Announced at Adobe’s MAX conference, and received with mixed reactions across social media platforms, the move marks Adobe’s official shift from a product-driven company to a service-driven one after experimenting with it for the last two years. This means that boxed versions of Adobe stalwarts such as Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere Pro and After Effects will no longer be on sale, and their serial key verification done away with. In its place, the CC subscription service will be available at a few price points depending on whether you are an ‘individual’, a ‘team’, or an ‘educational institution’.

For example, if an individual wanted to purchase the full suite of apps they would pay US$49.99 per month with an annual commitment or US$75 month-to-month. Adobe is attempting to sweeten the cloud-deal by adding some Touch Apps, Edge services such as Typekit (premium web fonts), and giving Cloud Storage of up to 20GB. There is also support for online portfolio site Behance, which Adobe acquired late last year.

If you consider that Adobe performed full upgrades (from say CS5 to CS6) roughly every two years, you’ll find that the full Creative Suite (Master Collection) would cost you US$2599 with the old model, but now would come to US$1200 with Creative Cloud. This lower cost of entry makes CC music to your ears if you use more than one application regularly.

A subscription for a single application is priced at US$19.99 on Creative Cloud, taking a two-year subscription to US$480. The old model would see you pay US$699.

Where most of the negative reactions have come from though, is most likely from users who only use one application, and perhaps not regularly either — in other words, hobbyists over semi-professionals and professionals. It’s unfortunate that the new model hurts those individuals, but it is a risk Adobe are clearly willing to take given this announcement — the company must see its future in cloud-service over selling individual products.

The new model definitely has an anti-piracy strategy built in as one license allows for an application to be installed on two computers: a primary and backup machine. If you install an app on a third machine you have to deactivate one other first. But more importantly for Adobe, a subscription-based model gives them a more secure and constant stream of revenue which enables the company to add more online services and provide better support (in theory). Updates take both time and money, and this model allows Adobe to update more regularly, which in turn keeps piracy in check, as well as gives users a better experience. Whether this is how it will work in reality is another question, but the theory is sound.

One thing that Adobe should take into account is that users might not want to constantly upgrade, especially if it isn’t an essential download. The one thing that has stood out, both in the announcement and the online reaction, is that users feel like they don’t have a choice in crossing over. Creative Suite CS6 will be sold and supported indefinitely but we all know that has a finite clause in the fine-print.

A major concern seen on social media platforms and comments is that users will lose access to their files if they stop their subscription. This is true for month-to-month subscribers but not the annual commitment, as that will have a yearly cut-off day.

Adobe should take user-choice into consideration, and maybe add more pricing options (perhaps a two-app deal or a five-app deal). At the moment the dichotomy between purchasing a single-app license and the full suite has been met with criticism, and not without motivation. However users must also recognise that the internet is moving towards subscription-based services where we no longer own our purchases, but rather ‘rent’, I mean, subscribe to them.

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  • Jaco Bruwer

    Are they for sale in South Africa? In last month my company tried to acquire licenses for CS6 and you can’t buy them inside South Africa. Now we must go to a shop and try and get a large license set… doesn’t make sense. I hope this cloud move, fixes that oversight.

  • Zane Slocombe

    It was obvious that this was on its way. This is a difficult model for the smaller business start-ups and freelancers, as it is like having a never ending debt. If cash flow is tight, with the old model, at least the lights were not cut if one chose not to upgrade until contracts were completed and settled, or if one had to invest in something more pressing, you could certainly get by quite easily with an older version for a while.

    I know a few of my suppliers still using legacy versions, probably because it makes economic sense for them to do so.

    Student versions may be a discounted but how about software companies investing in the future and making student versions free? I ma against money being a a barrier to learning and the internet and technology have the power to tackle this imbalance. This cloud model and subscription payment gateways are a barrier to learning.

    From games to commercial software packages, we are no longer the owners of the software and are increasingly unable to transfer ownership to somebody perhaps more economically disadvantaged, so effectively there is no trickle down of knowledge. This kind of elitism will only result in an ever widening knowledge and poverty gap.

  • CanonGirl

    Not sure your single application costs are calculated correctly. First, your price of $699 was the new purchase price of the standard Photoshop CS6, while CC consists of Photoshop CS6 extended, the retail price listed on Amazon is $999 (current asking price $787.88), while an upgrade from CS5 to CS6 was listed as $399, but was available through retailers for about $350). So, a subscription price of $20/year is a good deal, for a while, for someone who doesn’t own a copy of Photoshop extended, but it’s not much of a deal for those who have been upgrading Photoshop for a while. Consider 10 years, starting with an initial purchase, with an upgrade every 2 years–old model (list) = $,2994; (retail) = $2,537.88. For the new CC model = $2400. So, it’s very slightly better than list, and about even with retail. Now for those who want the entire suite of software, it IS a better deal, for sure, but just not for photographers and especially not for those who skip versions. I for one, will go with CC, as I’ve upgraded every time as it is, and there really isn’t anything out there the equal of Photoshop right now. Some day, though, I will retire and would like to continue using Photoshop, which with the current pricing plan, might be tough. Needless to say, I’ll keep my CS6 copy, but as what happened with other software I’ve owned over the years, the hardware/operating system will reach a point at which CS6 will no longer run, so maybe it buys me 10 years or so of a backup option. So, in the end, I’ll just say that the current pricing for CC is actually pretty good for the complete package, but is steep for just Photoshop, but I think right now Adobe is trying to push customers into a “better” deal, and of course, more money for them. However, if one doesn’t use the extra software, it’s no deal at all for the end user. I will say that I’m happy that Adobe has decided to have the 1st year price for Photoshop CC be $120/year, as I consider that quite reasonable. $240/year, however, isn’t a good deal. Will I pay it? Probably, but as soon as a better option comes along, I’ll be gone. At $120/year I’d happily stay. Somewhere in the middle??? Depends upon the deal offerred. Bottom-line, I think Adobe need to come up with a better long-term option for photographers, or I do think they’ll see errosion of this portion of their customer base, especially if someone else develops a competitive option.

  • CanonGirl

    LOL, I made a slight mistake myself, as for the old models, I basically was comparing 12 years against the CC model for 10 years. So, the correct comparison would be Old (List) = $2595; Old (Retail) = $2188; CC = $2400. So, basically, Adobe is making users pay nearly full retail, as compared to the old model, for those just needing Photoshop. Once again, Adobe is really trying to push customers into the complete package by not offerring a meaningful deal for the single-package option, but offering a reasonable deal for the entire package. If one performs the same calculation for, say, 20 years, then Adobe has effectively increased the price of their single-package option, compared to the old model.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/dfrichardson Dominic Francisco Charlton Ric

    Hi Jaco, please contact http://www.daxdata.co.za, we can point you in the direction of a convenient reseller. You can still purchase licenses for CS6 in SA. You can also look at the cloud option and decide which is better for you. Currently there is also a promotion on the cloud option.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dfrichardson Dominic Francisco Charlton Ric

    Zane, some good points which I would like to give you some feedback on. I would actually argue the exact opposite in terms of smaller business start-ups and freelancers. The subscription cloud model seriously lowers the barrier to entry, historically the initial cost was a huge barrier for this segment. It also allows them a degree of freedom across all the Adobe products instead of having to make the decision on just one or two absolutely essential products. With the current multi platform environment and designers and developers having to expand the skills and crossover into new areas, you can see how having the products available encourages users to learn and experiment.

    Aside from that Creative Cloud offers quite a range of services; web hosting, publishing, cloud storage etc. all of which could be quite useful to that segment. Freelancers in particular can now also bill the software’s monthly cost out as part of their costs to the customer, externalising it all together.

    The loss of trickle down product and thus knowledge is definitely a shame, unfortunately the speed at which the products are developed and changed also doesn’t lend itself to trickle down knowledge being particularly effective.

    There are however wonderful options for educational institutions and as you say the student editions are heavily discounted.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dfrichardson Dominic Francisco Charlton Ric

    If you are mainly using Photoshop for photography you might want to look at Adobe Lightroom instead. Lightroom uses the same Camera Raw engine as Photoshop and is absolutely brilliant for photographers. It allows you to manage your photo library and edit completely non-destructively. I always explain it like this, Photoshop is for when you want to put someone else’s head on a body but Lightroom is for more photography based edits: contrast, colour, levels etc.

    I would recommend just trying the demo and seeing if you like it: http://www.adobe.com/africa/products/photoshop-lightroom.html. Lightroom is available as a retail product, perpetual license.

  • ca

    Been searching for the creative cloud student edition, in south africa. Can you point me in the right direction please? Am registered student, 3rd year architecture.

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