Thoughts on Adobe Creative Cloud

Whoa! The internet is in uproar over Adobe’s decision to move all of its software to a cloud based service. For those who missed this bombshell, it means that you will no longer be able to purchase Adobe software in the traditional sense. Instead, you will need to sign up for Creative Cloud which, for a monthly fee, will give you access to one or all Adobe apps.

Users have taken to their blogs en masse to complain about the new model. Heck, there’s even a petition that is nearing 15,000 signatures. But personally I feel this is a step in the right direction for Adobe… the problem is that they have gotten a couple of things badly wrong.

One or All?

Based on the new model you can either pay for one Adobe app, or all of them. However, as Adobe well know, most people will only use 2 or 3 of their apps related to the field they work in. I think it was a huge mistake not to offer range of suites (design, photography, video, and web) within Creative Cloud. This way a user could opt to pay for the bundle that would include the apps they need, at a price point that sat between the current two offerings. The idea of paying for all Adobe apps when you’re only going to use a few of them seems somewhat unnecessary.

Pricing Inconsistencies

If I’m in the USA I can get full access to Creative Cloud for $49.99 USD per month. At the current exchange rate that’s about £33.00 GBP. However Adobe has set their UK pricing at, wait for it, £46.88 GBP per month. That means UK customers are paying 42% more than their US counterparts, for the exact same products and service. I appreciate that exchange rates fluctuate, and that here in the UK we pay VAT which is generally at a higher rate than US tax, but this still does not justify such a large increase in price.

The Big Worry

The real concern here is whether or not this model will encourage Adobe to listen to users and release innovate upgrades. Previously, since customers paid for upgrades, it was in Adobe’s interests to make those upgrades worth paying for. With a subscription based model this is not the case. We need to continue to pay our monthly fee regardless of how much effort Adobe puts into new versions. If we don’t, we can no longer use their software.

Of course, we could always move to another product if Adobe’s standards start to slip, but in creative industries people have a tendency to stick with the tools they know. I really hope Adobe don’t use this an excuse to exploit their customer base.

In Conclusion

Overall I do feel that Creative Cloud is good value. If you use Adobe software professionally, the new model will probably save you money and give you access to the latest software as soon as it is released. I think a lot of other companies will follow Adobe’s lead on this one, and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing if they do it right. However Adobe themselves haven’t quite hit the mark on this one yet. They really need to give some thought to offering their customers more flexible buying choices, and fix the discrepancies in their international pricing. But I certainly don’t think that, as long as they continue to invest in product development, this was in any way a bad move for Adobe or their customers.