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SOFTWARE

Adobe Creative Cloud - Adobe’s Big Gamble (Part 1)

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9/9/2013 3:19:19 PM

We examine Adobe’s new policy regarding its software products, which might signal the end for user ownership

Once upon a time, we lived in a much simpler world, where you went to 0a shop and handed over money to buy things you wanted. Some companies still support that notion, like car companies, who might own the copyright on their vehicles but entirely accept that you own the car you bought.

Others, like Adobe, have a new plan, where you'll pay them but never actually get to own anything.

Cloudy With A Chance Of Upgrades

The future, as Adobe sees it, is a huge army of software users each sending it a chunk of cash every month for the joy of using its products. The idea that you buy one of its programs, and it works forever is old thinking, according to Adobe, and it's about to brush that era away with the latest releases of its Creative Suite software.

CS6 - including Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, After Effects, Dreamweaver and Acrobat - is the last versions you can buy and own. No, that's not a typo; that's the company's plan. Adobe already offers these as a pay-as-you-go service under the Creative Cloud, and from this point onwards, that's the part it'll be developing.

CS6 - including Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, After Effects, Dreamweaver and Acrobat - is the last versions you can buy and own.

CS6 - including Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, After Effects, Dreamweaver and Acrobat - is the last versions you can buy and own.

For clarification, because many people seemed confused by the notion of Creative Cloud, at this time these aren't web-based versions of the apps, but a web linked solution with localized apps. However, the intention is clear that at some point (when we all have gigabit Ethernet, one might assume) the solution will become less platform specific.

The bought version, Creative Suite, version 6, will remain available for 'perpetuity' as Adobe describes it, where it won't be developed but you can still buy it, until presumably you won't be able to buy an operating system that it will work with.

Those wanting new features should look to Creative Cloud (CC), because they won't be seeing them in CS.

So far, about half a million subscribers have signed up to CC, and as the versions on there move away from CS6, Adobe is expecting more people to take up its offer. But how much does it cost to live on the Creative Cloud, and are there any advantages, other than to line Adobe's pocket?

Silver Linings Pay Book

The exact cost of Creative Cloud can be altered by many things, not least if you're prepared to commit to yearly contracts or if you want just one all or all of them.

The full costs of the Creative Cloud are detailed in a box-out in this article, but it's difficult to exactly match the CS6 versions with their CC counterparts, because there are so many versions and the Creative Cloud does a few things that CS6 doesn't.

A full package with annual commitment costs $70 or $844 each year. Meanwhile, CS6 Master Collection is a whopping $3,967 to buy.

there are so many versions and the Creative Cloud does a few things that CS6 doesn't.

there are so many versions and the Creative Cloud does a few things that CS6 doesn't.

The cheapest deal is the 'Student and Teacher' version for those in education, and that's $24 a month or $286 a year. Those who refuse to sign up for a year can pay as they go, but it costs more, and a single user accessing Photoshop using the system ad hoc will find it costs them $26 a month, or $316 a year. For comparison, Photoshop CS6 is $991, so it's the equivalent of three years of CC use.

Looking the numbers, if you upgrade every three years or less, then creative Cloud is actually cheaper; if you're still using CS4, then bought tools are more cost efficient. However, it doesn't really explain why Adobe would do this, cutting out those who wish to buy its products and not rent them.

Bought Vs Licensed

The idea of software licenses isn't a new one, because in high-end application tools it's been the norm from the outset. I was once a CAD manager, and the modelling tools that I used there were licensed, incurring a residual charge for each seat that needed to be paid for the workstations to function.

The way this was sold to the company involved was that should business perk up, it was a quick and easy deal to ring the company involved and get extra licenses issued, and conversely if we didn't use a feature, we could revoke the license and save some money. Let's be honest, though: the only reason the developer could do this was that only it made the tools that we used, so it was their way or the highway.

In the more competitive market of office PC applications that wasn't an option; you bought an application or suite, and it was licensed for one computer till the end of time. The ideal that you'd pay a retainer to have access wasn't an option that anyone was floating, and even when Microsoft Office started to dominate it wasn't an option.

The idea of software licenses isn't a new one, because in high-end application tools it's been the norm from the outset.

The idea of software licenses isn't a new one, because in high-end application tools it's been the norm from the outset.

Later on, Microsoft introduced various corporate license schemes to tie businesses into repeat purchases and allow them to install as many copies of its products as they wished, but for many people Office was a flat cost that was bundled into the purchase of a new PC. Interestingly, this was even if the new PC was replacing an older one that was already licensed for a version of Office.

In respect of how Adobe has gone about this, it's decided that all customers that buy a version of Creative Suite will stick with CS6, until it's so old that it can't be practically used. Because of that, it's might be a choice now, but in years to come it won't be and the only way to use Adobe products will be Creative Cloud. Therefore, the notion of bought versus licensed will be a moot one, unless you choose to use other tools entirely.

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