Adobe to Creatives: It’s the Cloud or Nothing

Will designers and developers embrace Creative Cloud, or will they walk away? Do they really even have a choice?
Will designers and developers embrace Creative Cloud, or will they walk away? Do they really even have a choice? // Image credit: Brent Couchman,

What’s that? That’s the sound of a million designers and developers crying all at once.

Adobe recently announced that they are ending perpetual licenses on all of their software products. We’re talking Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Dreamweaver, AfterEffects, Lightroom — all of the products that creatives use to design and build websites, print materials, and videos. Starting with the next version, which is scheduled to be released on June 17, users must purchase Creative Cloud subscriptions.

With Creative Cloud, applications are downloaded and installed on your hard drive, and they only need access to the internet once per month to check that your subscription is up-to-date. Otherwise, the applications work much the same as they did in the days when your software came from a CD in a box, and you had to enter the registration key on installation. If your subscription ends, the files you’ve created with the Creative Cloud still live on your computer — you just won’t be able to open the applications to edit them.

Among the benefits of “upgrading” to the Cloud is that applications are synced to the latest updates immediately on release. This means no more falling behind on the newest tools while you wait for the right time to upgrade your license.

Sounds fairly reasonable, right?

Say it ain’t so!

Well, there are plenty of creatives who disagree. In fact, some of them have taken up a petition on to try to convince Adobe to bring perpetual licensing back.

There are currently 8.4 million customers using the Creative Suites, and 4.4 million using point products (standalone applications like Photoshop). In comparison, there are 479,000 Creative Cloud subscriptions, and Adobe estimates that will rise to 1.25 million by the close of 2013 — no doubt due in large part to the fact that there will be no other option than the Cloud.

If it all seems too soon, Adobe disagrees. It believes that since the Creative Cloud adoption went quicker than expected — Cloud has been around since CS5 — the world is ready to fully take the plunge.

The last perpetual license available is for Creative Suite 6. There will be no CS7 — Adobe is starting from scratch and the next version will be named CC.

But will I pay more?

Overall, the pricing is not that different. The subscription for Creative Cloud is $50/month. If you consider that the average Adobe Creative Suite user upgrades every three years, then the price for a CC subscription after three years is only slightly higher than a perpetual license for the same period of time would have been, and you get access to few extra applications thrown in, too.


Creative Cloud is a smart way to keep on top of Adobe’s latest offerings, but even so, I have reservations. With the old model, you had to pay a lot up front, sure, but you could drag out the upgrades as long as you wanted. This is what I used to do in college, when I needed the programs for school but money was tight. It may not have had all the bells and whistles, but an old version of CS could carry you far — and it was still 100% yours.

With the new model, however, you have to just keep on paying or you lose access to your Adobe products completely. That can be a hard thing to maintain for young, perpetually-broke creatives who are just starting out in the business.

It’s all good for Adobe, however, since a subscription format will force upgrade holdouts to pay up.

Are you a creative? Do you hate Creative Cloud, or do you love it?

Comments (2)

  • I think we need to think long term, how it effects us an how it effect how adobe updates and does business.

    As far as costs go, Creative Cloud will cost me more, probably 150 to 200 a year more. I do not upgrade every version. Adobe does not do enough to warrant the upgrade. It does not effect my workflow enough to pay the money every year. I tend to upgrade every other version. CC forces me to pay for these upgrades.

    With CC I have to pay each month to use their software, over time this worries me, right now I have a few older versions of CS that I could fall back on, but what happens in 2 years? With licensing I have the purchased the rights to use that software (and not for a limited amount of time). So I will always have that software to open the projects and files I have been working on over the years. But with CC I will pay more over that time, but once I stop paying, I dont have the tool anymore. And I would have to pay even more for the short time use of it if I need it down the road.

    I am going to use the example of renting or owning your home. When you rent, you are only paying a small % of the value of the house to use it for a short period of time ( lets say ending up being $1000 a year). Of course you can pay the much larger sum to own one outright (lets say $150,000). But CC is different. You are basically paying the same price for renting as you used to pay for “owning” (yes I understand that a license is not the same as owning it, but you do have the rights to use that the software). Who would choose to do this?

    What happens if the CC software upgrades are to much much for your computer to handle? I was told you dont have to download the updates, but there is a point why are you continuing to pay over time for the updates then? I have CS 3 running on my laptop. It wont run CS5.5. Will there be a point you will be force to pay for updates you cant use or be forced to upgrade a machine?

    I really think Adobe has lost touch with the creatives that use their software. I am not just using one or 2 programs I use 5 or 6. I am a graphic/web designer. When I use photoshop my files can contain anywhere between 10 and 75 layers, these files will not open in other applications. I create projects of all kinds of sizes using InDesign, from business cards to large catalogs. These are files that will only be opened in these adobe applications. The subscription based setup forces me to continue to pay Adobe to be able to access these files. Even if down the road I switch to a new application for all my future work, I am forced to pay adobe again to update older files (if I had a license it wouldnt be an issue) . I dont mind when a company makes money, its great. When a company uses their dominate position in the industry to take advantage of their customers, and this is it, its about greed, pure and simple.

    Creative Cloud should be an option.

  • It’s infuriating that Adobe is “offering” what is essentially a con job. What they are doing is extremely shortsighted by arrogantly taking their customer base for granted, and doing what they think will up their cash flow. And you will note that they are not offering a choice in the matter because they know that Creative Cloud would lose out in a competition with traditional packaging.

    And of course they are selling this confidence game by telling us it’s the “Latest thing” and it’s “Cutting edge.” It’s a familiar Big Lie that any change represents progress, that if it’s new, it’s the greatest. CC represents regression. It represents a sharp degradation in customer service.

    I’ll never, never, never buy it. I WILL find alternatives. There WILL be many new alternatives to fill the sudden vacuum that will be caused by this insolent attempt to put a Happy Face on a total rip off.

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