Last week, Adobe announced that they are moving to the Cloud. All of their Creative Suite products including Photoshop will be available via a monthly subscription only cloud based service called Adobe Creative Cloud. Apparently, this is causing a controversy. Some photographers seem to be very annoyed and even outraged that they will have to pay from $20.00 -$50.00 per month for a tool that is a vital component of their businesses. A recent article on photography points out that this will actually be more cost effective. Over on APE, Rob Haggart has posted with a slightly inflammatory title “Does Adobe’s Sudden Shift to Subscription Only Unnecessarily Screw Photographers” (Way to keep that victimization thing going). As is usually the case, the comments run the gamut between lucidity and not.

I’m not seeing the downside here. Besides the cost effectiveness, updates and advancements can be delivered in a more timely manner, piracy will be reduced (theoretically) and that herd of “I own an iPhone, therefore I’m a photographer” might just get a bit thinner.

For all of those outraged, don’t be. You can’t stop this from happening. The bottom line here is that if you can’t pay $20.00 per month for something that is integral to your business, you should find something else to do with your life.


  1. scott’s avatar

    a great perspective as usual Debra. My only issue is that i partake in other software products outside the Adobe brand. FCP, Microsoft, Filemaker and a few others so if they all go to a 20-50.00 subscription plan, it could get expensive. The ability to pull ala-cart from a cross section of manufactures will become compromised making more sense to go exclusively Adobe. I feel that this could be bad for software evolvement and innovation on a whole. Adobe InDesign for instance slacks off where Quark is refined. FCP will be dropped because now everyone will now be paying for Adobe Premiere so they will convert over, like myself. Also the teenage kid that can buy or borrow uncle Bob’s copy of a outdated version Photoshop will feel alienated, Adobe could loose a future customer. Many shooters don’t need the horsepower of a full Photoshop these days so we may see other products from other manufactures pop up at the 150.00 price, something a tad more robust in the manipulation bucket than Adobe Lightroom.. This could be a great aberration.

    There is a feeling of relief knowing that for a flat fee you don’t have to worry about it anymore. I have never had a problem with paying 1500.00 every 4 years for the latest Creative Suite. Some of my retouching bills can be 2-4k a project. How can you argue with something so amazing as Photoshop a program that only cost 700.00 as a single program.. The rebel in me however feels that its a bit of a dictatorship and that we should have the option. No wonder it is polarizing the community. Its complicated. Big Blue

    There should be a software broker / reseller that can repackage the subscriptions to the consumer for instance: Word, FCP, Photoshop, Indesign, Filemaker, making it possible for the consumer to get the channels they want and need from a variety of brands. Adobe’s model is a bit like the cable company’s whereas you have to get all those other lousy programs just to get the gems like Jersey Shore. I don’t need Dreamweaver or the other 50% of that plan. I curse InDesign and cry for my old Quark every time i open it. Adobe can be rough around the edges at times. Ask any Freehand user. Macromedia who?

    They already have over 500,000 subscribers. I don’t disagree with technology companies making changes for the better even if the customers complain. If Apple didn’t do this we would still be on SCSI or serial port. From what i understand its a better more consistent revenue stream and besides they own the market. I think users are going to explore other options though.

  2. admin’s avatar

    A lot of valid points Scott, however you can get Photoshop on its own so you’re not stuck with a lot of things you won’t use. Users should always explore other options. When everyone transitions to a cloud based subscription model, maybe your concept of a broker will be a reality. Or, you may have found your next career!

  3. Don Cudney’s avatar

    I love you Debra.

    APE = (Way to keep that victimization thing going).

    I couldn’t agree more.

    “The sky is falling, the sky is falling, give your imagery away, give your imagery away.”

    And I honestly believe 50% of the Creatives that are complaining have NEVER bought a licensed copy of Adobe. Thieves.

  4. Pete Gould’s avatar

    Well – here’s a (hopefully coherent) opposing view.

    I am not a photographer. I own a video production company. My company has been in business since 2000 and I have been in the industry since the late 1980s. I have been involved with computers since I was building them from kits in the 1970s. In other words, I’m not new to the party.

    I also don’t (ever) work with pirated software. I have owned a license every single bit of software I have EVER possessed. This is not about wanting something for nothing.

    So here’s the problem. The relationship between software company and customer exists in a balance. Each party has an amount of power in that relationship, as well as competing motivations and needs. As a publicly held company, the software company wants to minimize expenses and maximize revenue, because these things are necessary to hold its share price up (otherwise stockholders bail and the company goes bust). There’s NOTHING WRONG WITH THIS as long as the other side of the equation also works. To wit: customers want cool new features that make their work easier or more lucrative or enhance their creativity, and they want them for the lowest possible price.

    When (in the traditional model) the software company comes out with an upgrade, customers will pay for it IF the features are attractive to them and IF the price is acceptable to them. If the features are uninteresting or the price is too high, they won’t buy. This motivates the company to continue innovating and keep control over prices.

    What forced migration to the cloud does is to transfer most of the customers’ power to the company. This is at least true in my industry; maybe it’s not in yours. You be the judge. In video production, a “project” consists of an Adobe Premiere project file, often with one or more imported Adobe AfterEffects projects and Adobe Audition projects as well as layered Photoshop and/or Illustrator files whose layers can be independently animated. These file formats are all proprietary to Adobe as is the relationship between the files. A project created a year from now is likely to contain attributes unrecognizable to CS6 applications and therefore is unlikely to be backward-compatible.

    This means that the pain of subsequent migration to another platform is much greater in a CC model than a CS model (where the user always has a perpetual license to the software that was used to create any existing projects). Under CC, if one stops paying, one loses access to the applications and therefore to all the projects that depend upon them.

    This increased migration pain means customers are likely to endure more abuse under CC than they would under CS before they finally migrate. Merely failing to have attractive innovations in future upgrades will probably not provide sufficient incentive. Slowly increasing the subscription fee will also not move people who are already trapped into a CC-only relationship, at least not right away.

    So how high could those fees go? Well, I can tell you that my company was surveyed by Adobe about making this move nearly two years ago, and at the time the fee they were floating was not $50/month. It was $150/month. I believe the $50 monthly fee announced this year is a lowball fee intended to get the majority of customers to switch over quietly. I believe if this happens without incident the rate will go to $150 pretty quickly. No doubt Adobe intends to tune the amount to maximize revenue, where increased fees from people who remain exceed what is lost from customers who leave.

    So my prediction for Adobe if they succeed in this move: innovation will stagnate since they make the same money whether they innovate or not (one of the primary risks of the subscription model), rates rapidly increase over the next two years or so and then increase more slowly (but never remain the same), and no user will ever have access to their software again without paying an unending monthly fee.

    Also, if this works for Adobe, other software companies will follow suit. Expect to pay a monthly fee for Windows or Mac OS, for every plugins package you own and for all other productivity software from Office suites to Quickbooks or whatever you happen to use to manage your business. And each of those fees will be tuned upward as companies explore what the market will bear.

    Those of you who are fine with this move by Adobe may want to consider whether you are also fine with where this leads.

    1. admin’s avatar

      Pete – It’s more than coherent. And there is most likely a great deal of validity in your prediction. I just don’t see how any of this can be stopped. I wish several things that have happened over the last 20 – 30 years could have been stopped. It’s difficult to say that perhaps this will backfire, since they completely own the market. I don’t agree with you though that they will stop innovating. There are too many egos involved to let that happen.

      I wish I had more time right now but I’m taking a 6:30 am flight. Here’s a link to a blog post about their legal agreement which unsurprisingly is weighted in their favor:

    2. Brad Trent’s avatar

      “…I’m not seeing the downside here. Besides the cost effectiveness, updates and advancements can be delivered in a more timely manner, piracy will be reduced (theoretically) and that herd of “I own an iPhone, therefore I’m a photographer” might just get a bit thinner……”

      Deb, I love you too, but you couldn’t be more wrong on this issue.

      Right from the start when you titled this post as you did, you’ve thrown your hands in the air and given up. You seem to have bought the Adobe line, seeing only the ‘benefits’ they have trotted out and ignoring some pretty glaring flaws in their scheme. But let me answer some of the things I quoted above that you seem to think are good for users of the Adobe Creative Suite…

      First, the cost. I can certainly afford the $20.00 monthly charge Adobe has deemed appropriate for all the wonderful things they offering with the Creative Cloud, but it is far from being ‘cost effective’. The typical Photoshop upgrade over the years has risen from $99.00 to $200.00, and I have no problem with that at all, but assuming I kick up even $200.00 every two years for the next version, how does Adobe’s $20/month translate to a good deal? I’m shitty at math, but even I can see that $480.00 over a two-year period means Adobe is looking to get a lot more cash out of its users from now on.

      As to the promised ‘updates and advancements’, this is a much bigger issue. A lot of high-end users have already speculated this this is the real reason why Adobe is pushing to lock down a perpetual subscription scheme, because Adobe knows that there is only so much you can do to ANY software application before the end user says enough! This ‘User Apathy’ is why they changed their upgrade policy so that if you didn’t have CS5, you couldn’t move forward to CS6. And they could have kept that policy in place to ensure their customer would stay on the upgrade track, but after a year they trashed that idea and went with this scheme instead.

      Now…piracy! I suppose the idea of a cloud-based check-in system might seem to be a more secure way of distributing software, anyone who thinks that there aren’t already guys out there working on a way to hack into this are just looking at life with blinders on! There will always be software piracy and ways around the system and Adobe certainly knows this.

      And finally, I gotta say I’m actually surprised at your take on the ‘iPhone Photographer’ part of the equation. I’m guessing that you think these weekend warriors in some way hurt the business, or is it that maybe they just don’t ‘deserve’ Photoshop? I dunno, but it come off as a little short-sighted to me. I’m not the least bit concerned with the hobbyist photographer horning in on my business, and it appears Adobe isn’t too worried about them joining the Creative Cloud either, because that’s a pretty big group of folks who seem to be more than ready to ditch Photoshop and move to any one of a handful of other products that will do about 90% of what they have been used to with the more powerful software. Which is probably another reason why Adobe hit that $20/month price point…they have to make up that lost income somewhere, and the working pro market is obviously who is gonna pay!

      If you wanna read more of my thoughts on the whole deal, I dropped a few posts over at Damn Ugly Photography. The first is my complete take of the scheme:

      …and the second actually links to everything Lloyd Chambers (AKA: DIGLLOYD) has written in the past week, some of which you talked about with the contract he dissected:

      So don’t give up so fast, Deb…you never know what a groundswell from the stinking masses might accomplish! And on that note, if this rings true with any of your readers, I ask that they add their name to the petition that asks Adobe to trash their Creative Cloud subscription scheme:

      1. admin’s avatar

        Hi Brad – I love you too. But I’m on a plane flying to NY and running out of juice. I promise I will respond later today. I’m only in for one night but will be back on the 28th. We should go to Cafe Loup.

Comments are now closed.