The web is abuzz with condemnation of Adobe’s choice to force users to subscribe to a monthly cloud based service with its newest upgrades which sees the long standing Creative Suite at the end of its life. No longer will you as a consumer be able to choose to purchase upgrades based on features, but rather you’ll pay for whatever upgrades Adobe chooses to include (or doesn’t). I’ve yet to find one person that is actually excited by this move. Sure, some have listed the potential merits of a monthly charge, but none that I’ve found have come out and said, this is by far the better way to offer software and service. Is there someone out there that feels a solely cloud based solution is the best option? If so, I can’t help but feel you’re not only in the minority, but you’re on a crazy little Adobe island with the few that felt this was the best business move. A few more thoughts after the jump…
Now, I’ll admit that I have found value in certain things I’ve first seen as unnecessary, or silly. Perhaps in a couple years I will see the value in needing to pay a monthly bill to gain access to software, but I really feel I’m not going into this with unjustified blind frustration. Here’s why, firstly, an “unending” bill may seem like cheap access to Photoshop at first, and whatever else Adobe provides (I really only use, and plan to use Photoshop personally), but what happens if and when, a few years down the road, there are very few newly added features that truly provide value. By building and releasing a new, true upgrade to the software, Adobe has to provide enough value to convince those of us willing to pay $600-700 for the software and another $200-300 to upgrade every couple years. We get to choose. Personally, I’ve really seen the benefit in the upgrades in the last couple iterations to justify the upgrade prices, and have voted with my dollar. Adobe brought enough to the table that I chose to spend money to gain access to content aware fill or puppet warp. Now, I’d hope they’ll continue to build new, inventive tools, but their motivation has largely disappeared. They can now (if they so choose to act as a money hungry capitalist company proving to share holders they’re doing everything to maximize profit) start to slim down their development team, and slowly roll out singular feature upgrades to justify just enough to hold onto subscribers. In true capitalist fashion, go lean and mean. Sure, you’re a business, why not? Well the other side to the argument is value and service to your customers, and I think this is going to backfire in a big way.
As I read it, Adobe Creative Cloud subscriptions will run you $50/month, or $600 a year. Yup, $600 a year. Granted, students get a discounted rate of $20/month or $240/year, but when you’re no longer a student, that jumps up to whatever Adobe happens to be charging when you’re studiousness expires. So, the justifications I’ve read so far fall within the “working pros will be the only ones to justify this price” and to that I say, no way does this make sense for the average “working photographer” considering that for the same price for a years worth of monthly payments, we could own PS-CS6 and own it for the foreseeable future. For those who are doing web development, graphic design, et al, it may make more monetary sense as you have access (I assume) to many more programs, but still, the question of the stability of cloud based storage, if used, and the potential security issues come into play.
Here’s another interesting point. If Adobe chooses to do the same thing with Lightroom, making it a monthly subscription, cloud based service, how will LR users feel? I am going to venture a guess, and say that most folks are going to be pissed. A digital asset management software should be owned and operated by the person needing to use it to manage and catalog their owned and copyrighted image files. Putting them into the cloud and forcing us to pay a monthly fee to access them for our photo adjustment and manipulation needs not only takes the ownership argument to a new level, but it brings in serious questions of security. Where does this “cloud” exist, and where may it exist in the future. Sure we can back everything up (hopefully) on our machines at home, but if we need to adjust something, let’s say for a client, we’d need to have access to the software in this magical cloud to do so. To me, that’s BS. Will the TOS start to include security issues by granting agencies (gov’t or otherwise, Facebook even?) the ability to peek into this “cloud” if questions of national security come into play for instance? I know it’s a stretch, but let’s say someone does a photoshoot for a gun club, with models posing with rifles, et al, could that be construed as “potentially threatening” enabling authorities the ability to monitor the creator based on some loophole in the User Agreement and Patriot Act, or shots including government buildings, bridges, etc? This may just be the small part of me that holds onto conspiracy theories from my teenage “rebellious” phase, but with everything going on, why would it be too big a stretch to think it could happen?
Something else to take into consideration are plugins. Let’s say we spend $200, $500, $1000+ on specialized plugins to be utilized in Photoshop to streamline our workflow (I currently have probably about $1500 or more worth of software plugins running through Photoshop that I’ve acquired over the years). If we do buy into this monthly subscription and do so for say a couple years, upgrading equipment in the interim (computer, et al) while the Creative Suite programs become unsupported in the mean time, those expensive plugins may become entirely useless if we choose to stop paying for access to photoshop, in design, etc. Pretty crappy. I wonder what companies like Alien Skin, Topaz, NIK and others think about this as it will certainly affect their respective bottom lines if this goes the way it looks like it’s gonna go.
Okay, that will end my rant. While I admit, much of this frustration is largely based on a giant hypothetical, I can’t help but feel this will really open up the market for a Photoshop/Adobe competitor to absolutely pounce on this error by Adobe. I understand that the cloud can be useful for some, but why force it upon people. Having the option to choose to buy your software, or subscribe to a cloud based system to gain access to it works for everyone, except perhaps for Adobe shareholders. Listening to customers and providing choices, how novel. Unfortunately, I feel the time of companies doing what is best for or at least listening to their customers is going more and more the way of the dinosaurs. Adobe has received the last money that it will from me unless it reverses this.
How about for you?