Pay Me. Pay Me Again!
Adobe recently switched to a subscription-only business model for all releases of its popular creative software, which includes the industry-standards Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Acrobat. Going away are the perpetual licenses that allow users to own releases of bundled software packages. This is bad news for creatives and the number one reason is cost.
Subscriptions to the Creative Cloud service begin at $50-per-month per user and give customers full access to the entire Creative Suite library. This comes out to $600-per-year per person. When Laura and I started this studio back in 2010 we purchased Adobe’s CS5.5 Design Standard software package for $300 (with an educator’s discount). The cost included licenses to install the design tools on both of our machines. It’s clear to see in our case that a one-time flat fee of $150-per-user beats the new pricing model of $600-per-year. If we switched over to the subscription service at the discounted educator’s price of $30-per-month per person we would still lose. That plan would see us doling out $720 each year for both our computers. Not an appealing choice to say the least.
With the mandatory Creative Cloud subscription model users are forever tethered to Adobe’s monthly fees. If the payment cannot be made then access to the design programs will not be allowed, rendering all previous created files useless. Of course one could save copies of work in formats that work universally but this is a time-wasting and overbearing burden to place on professionals who’s time is best devoted to creating solutions for clients.
We feel that this shift in Adobe’s business model is grossly unfair to small businesses, freelancers, students, semi-professionals and amateurs in the design/creative fields. Fifty dollars per month is a lot to spend on software that we will no longer own on our computers. Adobe argues that the price is far less in the long run for a comparable license that grants access to the entire Creative Suite. But this doesn’t ring true for the small guy who has other bills to pay and may not earn the larger commissions that larger design firms do.
And who really cares about access to the full spectrum of 18 programs within the Creative Suite? Most of them are not used very often (or at all) by graphic designers. In our studio we work with only four programs: Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Acrobat. Just because programs like Fireworks, After Effects and Encore are suddenly made available doesn’t mean we will start using them. Why should we pay for things we won’t be using?
The root of Adobe’s drastic change is most likely corporate greed or a desperate attempt to get revenue in the door. With such an aggressive and surprising switch to subscription-based software it appears that executives are trying to prod users who skip an upgrade (or two, or three) to fork over money. There are many designers who find older versions of Adobe software perfectly viable long after new releases are rolled out. Why should we be forced into having the latest versions of things? Auto companies aren’t forcing drivers to lease the newest model cars. Appliance makers don’t demand we have the newest refrigerators in our kitchens. Designers should continue to have a choice in deciding what is best for our work.
As it stands today, Adobe has a monopoly on the creative software used by designers and there are no viable alternatives to its juggernaut of digital tools. The entry price point is already high enough but this subscription-based service will deter even more people from getting creative by driving it up even more.
What are your thoughts on Adobe’s new subscription-only business model? Will you be able to spend $50-per-month to have access to the software?
Derek Schoffstall started a petition calling on Adobe to eliminate the mandatory Creative Cloud subscription. Sign it if you feel as strongly as we do about this sad news.