When Adobe announced that it will be dropping its traditional perpetual license model for Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, and the rest of its professional creative apps in favor of the Creative Cloud software subscription model, the public response was less than enthusiastic. The reaction from at least some Adobe app users was so negative, in fact, that an online petition quickly popped up urging Adobe to keep the Creative Suite perpetual license model alive.
The petition to kill the Creative Cloud-only model was started by Berek Schoffstall at Change.org who said he feels the monthly subscription model is bad for consumers. He stated,
In the end it comes down to this: all of Adobe's consumers will not be able to make such a large payment every month on the CC subscription model. In the short term, the subscription model looks to be okay, but over time the only entity that is benefiting from this is Adobe. The (no longer) current model: paying a one time fee for infinite access is a much better business model and is better for the consumer.
For some Adobe app users, Mr. Schoffstall is right: They'll end up paying more in the long run as Creative Cloud users compared to what they paid for a one-off license. For users that need to upgrade on a regular cycle, however, they may find that Creative Cloud is more economical. The reality is that unless you plan to buy your Adobe apps and then never upgrade -- ever -- you're making regular payments to Adobe. It's just a matter of when.
Depending on your budget, lump sum upgrade charges may be the way to go, but spreading that payment out over time might be easier on your bank account, and regardless of which is better for you, monthly payments are certainly a better deal for Adobe.
So far, about 10,000 people have signed the online petition; some with legitimage concerns and some based on misconceptions. That's a sizable number of disgruntled users, but certainly only a small fraction of Adobe's customer base. That number started me thinking about who it is that will see the biggest immediate impact from the change to Creative Cloud, and I found my answer in the petition:
So, we want you to restart development for Adobe Creative Suite 7 and all future Creative Suites. Do it for the freelancers. For the small businesses. For the average consumer. For the people who use your products on an inconsistent basis. Do it for the sake of creating a more beautiful world together.
The average consumer, it says. The person that wants to dabble a little in photo editing make the occasional flier or invitation. Someone that breaks out Photoshop CS3 off an on, and has no need to upgrade to anything newer because it already does more than they'll ever need.
From Adobe's perspective, it already addressed the average consumer with Photoshop Elements and Premier Elements, both of which are still offered with a perpetual license -- and at a far lower price point than thier professional counterparts. These are the users that, like it or not, Adobe isn't even considering with its subscription-only model.
These are also the people that can switch to products like Pixelmator or Acorn and Adobe won't care. They're the people that can use Pages instead of InDesign because they don't need to print spot colors, and they probably don't even know what "spot color" means. The casual Dreamweaver users can turn to products like Sandvox and Freeway, and Adobe probably won't even notice.
Freelances and small businesses, however, are locked into the Adobe game, and even though they may be able to get by with older versions of Adobe apps, they should at least consider staying up to date because that's what their competition is doing. For them, an extra $50 a month -- which is what a Creative Cloud subscription costs -- may be a hardship. If so, then shelling out between $375 and $1,050 for upgrades is probably a hardship, too.
And that's where Mr. Schoffstall's petition comes in. He, along with at least 10,000 other people, wants Adobe to keep offering its customers a choice in licensing options. Those voices, I suspect, will ultimately fall on deaf ears. Adobe is big enough that it can move forward with its Creative Cloud model, and it won't even look back to see who is left behind as we're rushed into the new world of software subscriptions.
For some, Creative Cloud will be great. For others, not so much. For Adobe, it's the future, and the company isn't afraid to leave behind anyone who thinks differently no matter how passionate they may be.