Keeping up with Adobe

The release of Adobe Creative Cloud has creative professionals debating pros and cons like Coke vs. Pepsi. It leaves us wondering about the long-term implications of this big change in the field.

If you haven’t yet heard about the Creative Cloud, it’s Adobe’s new delivery model for the Creative Suite, which includes Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, the works. Where previous versions of Creative Suite products were sold through a standard user-license model, the Creative Cloud is a subscription-based model. Users now pay a monthly $49 fee for the tools (which are automatically upgraded as new releases come out), instead of the one-time $1,299 for the license, where customers could decide when and what they wanted to upgrade. There is also a $19.99 single-app option available for those who use only one tool.

So is it worth it?

On the pro side, this simple monthly subscription keeps you up to date with the latest software. It’s faster and offers features for active sharing. It’s also easy to download, use and transfer to another computer when needed. Plus if you like to spread out your costs, $50 a month is a fairly comfortable monthly payment. And users are used to paying monthly subscriptions for everything from Website hosting to email marketing, so the model isn’t without precedent.

Now the cons. Adobe is dictating your timeline and cash outflow because this model ropes you into an ongoing monthly fee rather than allowing you to plan and schedule your software purchases. Also, even after your monthly payments surpass the old license fee, you lose access to the software as soon as you stop the monthly payments – significantly increasing the potential total cost for the software. For infrequent users of these powerful tools, the monthly fee probably doesn’t feel worth it.

The bottom line – if you currently have CS5 or CS6, you might want to coast for a year or two before committing to the Creative Cloud. That’s our current game plan.

Our guess is that when the dust settles, we will see more and more software providers jumping on the subscription model bandwagon. We would love to hear what you think!