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

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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