Creative Cloud tops 1 million: what do you think of it?

Adobe has announced its 1 millionth Creative Cloud subscriber in the year since launch. Are you signed up?

Adobe has announced its 1 millionth Creative Cloud subscriber in the year since launch. Are you signed up?

Goodby Silverstein’s I Am The New Creative spot for Adobe


In May, Adobe announced that it was ending so-called ‘perpetual licence’ sales of its Creative Suite software in favour of the Creative Cloud subscription model. CS6 would be the last version of its creative programmes to be available for purchase outright, with all new releases distributed via the Creative Cloud to subscribers only.

The news provoked an enormous outcry in the creative community. Four months on, in its Q3 results, Adobe has released figures which appear to show a significant uptake of its offer. Creative Cloud now has over a million subscribers and Adobe is claiming to be adding over 20,000 subscribers per week currently, compared to 8,000 per week last summer.

But just how impressive is that figure? It is almost impossible to know how many Creative Suite users there are worldwide. In 2010, on its 20th anniversary, Adobe claimed that Photoshop alone had 10 million users. (Presumably, many more use pirated copies). In that context, 1 million CC subscribers is impressive, although we don’t know how many of those are taking up the full version, how many are on special offers or education users etc. Nevertheless, opposition has been vehement – both through Adobe’s own forums and via community efforts such as this anti-CC Facebook page.

Initial criticism of the switch to CC-only appeared to centre around chiefly financial and technical issues. On the financial side, many users complained that the CC model would cost them more and would price sole traders out of the market. Not everyone upgrades to every new version, they argued, so the comparisons which had subscriptions matching up favourably with the cost of buying new software every 18 months were not relevant in many cases. Others feared that, once it had users signed up, Adobe would be free to ratchet up prices, tying subscribers into paying ever higher costs, the lack of alternative programmes creating a virtual monopoly.

On the technical side, there were concerns that creators would be unable to access their files if they were no longer a CC subscriber (Adobe recommended saving down to earlier versions owned by the user), concerns over having to sign-in to validate subscriptions if internet access was interrupted and worries over service interruptions which might make accessing vital files impossible (some of the concerns are addressed here and by Adobe here).

So we’d like to know how readers feel now about Creative Cloud. Have you signed up? If so, how do you find it? What problems have you had? What advantage does this system have over CS?

What do people feel now about the subscription model? Have Adobe made a massive mistake here or will we all get used to paying monthly for software just as we do for broadband or Netflix? Are you exploring alternatives such as Corel (BTW, there’s still a lot of love for Freehand, Illustrator users…)?

Let us know in the comments below


  • Steve P

    Short answer: Can’t stand it.

    Long answer: Although I accept that CC has many benefits (constant up-to-date software, access to all software, more in-depth support) I think the major frustration is the forced move to a subscription service and the removal of any choice from a company that knows they have a major chunk of the marketshare.

    I’ve got no problem paying for everything CC offers, but that doesn’t mean it’s financially viable for my business, or that I want to pay for it all when it’s likely some of the products/services wouldn’t be used to their full value.

    I can’t understand why Adobe can’t release versions of software alongside the subscription-based model, either annually or even every two years, with limited support access. That would mean we could keep up-to-date with major changes as-and-when we need to and wouldn’t be paying for something we don’t want/need. Yes these versions would no doubt be pirated and shared, but they’d still earn from those who actually bought it and there’s nothing stopping them from releasing a major update a fortnight after each release to ensure CC subscribers are getting the “premium services”.

    There’s also a huge problem in that files saved through CC software are inaccessible to CS users and vice versa. So freelancers will need to get themselves on the Cloud or face losing jobs with agencies who already use it, as will any collaborators on bigger projects. Another way for Adobe to force their products on people.

    At the moment, you’ll find there are still grumblings (from folk like me) and still people that love it (see Adobe’s new interview videos) but it will all be relatively bubbly – Ask the question “What do you think of Adobe CC?” this time next year and you’ll find there are plenty of great creative people who have been priced out of work by it, clients who are being charged more for their project just to keep CC subscriptions for agencies going and (I’m guessing) no real headway in terms of what the software can do to justify that subscription as opposed to the hard copies of the olden days.

    If anyone has recommendations for alternatives to Adobe software, I’m all ears!

  • I prefer the pay monthly version. I do the same for MS Office and a variety of other services.

    Personally I only subscribe to Photoshop as I only have basic design needs so it only costs £17pm (ish)

    Not sure how much value the full service is though.

  • Thinking of signing up for the @adobe Creative Cloud? Some of these horror stories might change your mind.

  • mkb

    I haven’t signed up and will continue to use photoshop version cs4 for the foreseeable future, until I am forced to upgrade computer or OS that is.

    I’m not a retoucher and my needs are fairly straightforward even though I use the program regularly. Layers, layer masks and adjustment layers do 99% of what i need. I have need for flashy new features I don’t have time to learn so an older version is fine for me.

    As far as I can see photoshop CC would cost me £27 per month which over 3-4 years would cost me more than if I had bought the program when it was available as one off download – I have no need to constantly upgrade and this model leaves me worse off.

    As I already own a copy my upgrade to subscription is relatively cheap however a new user is a lot worse off.

    For a new user two years of subscription is more expensive than it would have been to buy a one off copy of photoshop cs6 when it was available.

    All I think is it is a real pity Adobe seem to have a de facto monopoly on this area. I know there other programs but having invested years learning photoshop the thought of moving to a new program leaves me a little bitter .

  • Andy

    I can definitely see why anyone who has bought full versions of previous software would be unhappy with Adobe’s new subscription approach. As a recent graduate now doing a mixture of different freelance projects I could not afford to buy full copies of the software I needed but I could through this subscription service, it came at exactly the right time for me.

    Many people mention the initial cost of a full copy of Photoshop being less than two years subscriptions, however if you regularly use Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop, Flash, Dreamweaver and Muse, the latter of which is subscription only anyway, you’ll need the full collection, which is equal to 4 years of monthly payments (this is dependant on the pricing system not flying through the roof!)

    The subscription doesn’t cost much when you place it next to the cost of the latest smart-phone contract or a TV package.

    I also work on both a Mac and a Windows PC, I have been able to install it on both computers something that I would need two copies of the software to do previously, I know not many people use both but for me this was a major selling point. It’s also handy to have 20gb of free cloud storage thrown too.

  • Lee

    I do not like it. I wish I had upgraded to CS6. I think I could live with that for a long time. In this economy, $50 a month can be a lot – when the inevitable slow times come for the smaller guys.

  • BD

    Some of the bigger guys won’t be able to use it either. I work behind secure servers, no way ever will we be allowed to use a cloud for software i’m not even allowed removable media!

    CS6 for the rest of eternity and i’d imagine there are other companies out there with sensitive information that will be in the same boat. Thats a lot of user licence fees Adobe will miss out on…

  • mkb

    @Andy – you mention you are a recent graduate and I can understand why this structure might seem attractive however there are drawbacks – when you’re starting out cashflow can be a nightmare – if clients aren’t paying you on time, the bank isn’t lending you money and your rent is due as another poster has mentioned $50 or £50 can be breaking point and I don’t think adobe is going to be sympathetic if you start asking them for credit.

    With a non-subscription copy you make a one off payment but you always have access to it even when there’s nothing in your bank account (which hopefully isn’t going to be the case), its equivalent to buying a piece of equipment for the business -even when times are tough you have access to it. That said obviously buying a non -subscription copy when you’re starting wouldn’t exactly be a minor investment.

    Good luck!

  • Steve P


    Spot on. At the end of the day Adobe’s software is a tool, all the Creative Cloud does (with a lot of jazzing up involved to assure people this isn’t the case) is move their business model away from letting you buy the tool outright, to them renting it to you for all eternity with no option to buy the version you want or need.

    More money for them, less power for the customer.

  • Dan Mason

    I just subscribed last week. Thought everything was hunky dory after years of using “borrowed” agency copies for home use. Having read the above comments, I am slightly concerned now.

  • Personally I like it. I’ve always been a relatively early adopter of new versions of software including CS, so I see it as a way to spread the payment and it works out pretty much the same as it used to if you use a lot of the components of CC. I can understand why people that only use Photoshop wouldn’t be so happy, but at the moment I think the PSD only price is under £9 a month which is what – less than your average round of drinks.

    And I don’t want to sound too harsh here but if you’re a sole trading freelancer (and I am one) that can’t afford £50 a month to run all your critical software then you need to be concerned about the viability of your business. And before everyone shouts at me I know it’s difficult for people staring out with no regular clients and so on, and I sympathise with anyone that fits into that category. However, isn’t it easier to find £50 in order to get started than it was to find the hundreds of pounds needed to buy the perpetual licence versions previously?

  • James

    I hate it. When I get my next Mac I’ll be upgrading to CS6 and sticking with that for as long as I can. I simply don’t trust Adobe to not jack up the price once we’re all stuck in the subscription model.

  • Jan E

    Still using older version of Adobes software. It still does what I need it to do. I used to upgrade anually. I use photoshop daily. I don’t like adobes new business model. I like to own the hardware and software. I hate the thought of renting something forever! By the time I upgrade, hope there will be an alternative. But that day is a long way from now. The important thing is I am just as productive today using yesterdays software all the while saving that monthly subscription charge to spend the money on other things!

  • It seems to me that this is such a narrow-minded, defensive attitude from Adobe. It could be embracing genuine advantages to some of the online access model but has instead chosen to see it as a chance to “lock the stable door”. It’s a shame that rather than focus on how they can genuinely improve the product experience using Cloud Adobe seem to have concentrated efforts on how it can be used to effect total control. It smacks of ‘brand hubris’. The creative community has always looked to Adobe as an enabler, helping designers and artists etc to share work with the world, listening to the comments of these once loyal fans and vocal advocates of their software, I fear Adobe has joined a club of brands seen as over-controlling and whose motives are now treated with skepticism. Not very clever.

  • pantau

    No I will not sign up. I don’t want to tie my business to a cloud service – too risky, too restrictive. Let’s see which alternatives will come up if Adobe sticks to CC.

  • pantau
  • Jeff

    Funny thing was after Adobe thanked 1 million CC users, a few weeks later they had to apologize to 2.9 million Adobe users for the hacking incident. I don’t rent software. I don’t rent my tools. Won’t now or ever even if CC could edit a feature film by itself, it’s not worth $1 a month. Adobe lost this life long customer along with many more. Companies that won’t listen to their customers always fail. It’s great to know that other companies want my business more than Adobe by offering non subscription software.

  • Pablo

    Freehand worked for years after its dismissal. So, I hope will do CS6. We will see what happens then.

  • From experience the one thing we hate is Adobe updates, particularly when your editing work station is running sweetly and then it begins to crash as a result of an update. You then spend countless hours trawling through Adobe forums to find a workaround solution. We must be unlucky, but this has happened to us too many times in the past. So understandably, the prospect of being forced to use the latest software/ update is not particularly appealing. We currently have hard copy versions of CS6 installed, it works perfectly, and we will continue to use it until it no longer adequately serves our business. After that, what choice do we have but to bow to Adobe’s subscription model.

  • Graham

    Will only do it when forced but economic loss. Totally disagree with the principle.

  • chris

    Using CS6 until it doesn’t work, then I will change careers or find another way.
    Shrug I refuse to rent software in an insecure ‘Cloud’ environment.
    Corporations should be fined heavily and harshly when they lose control of customers private information.
    They are responsible when they get hacked, they didn’t focus enough on securing customer information.
    Would a Bank be covered by Insurance if it left its doors unlocked?
    They should focus less on money grab and put more focus on a quality/secure product and environment.

  • Gary

    I’d prefer to buy an upgrade to CS7 than a rolling subscription. But I realise that at some point an OS upgrade will make CS6 unusable. (I think at that point I’ll change career).

    I think my biggest issue is there are no safe guards that Adobe won’t hike prices up when your business is dependant on their drug. If they said we have no plans to increase subscription prices for the foreseeable future and if we do we guarantee it will never be more than 1% per year. Then I’d be happier.

    As things stand, Adobe could kill our business by doubling subscriptions if they felt like it. They’d say they wouldn’t do that, but there are no guarantees on what their future pricing is. Once you are hooked they have complete control, and they know it.

    I’m rooting for a developer to appear from nowhere and create an alternative to CC. There are already these alternatives

    Tumult Hype
    Apple Final Cut Pro
    Apple Motion
    Quark Xpress

  • Withing a short period of time adobe has changed the face of it’s new creation by drawing the attention over 1 million people. wow !!! amazing. All the best from Intrango Web Design