Adobe heads to the cloud

Goodbye software in a box, hello Creative Cloud. Adobe is abandoning selling software as one-off products in favour of a subscription-only model. What will it mean for you?

Goodbye software in a box, hello Creative Cloud. Adobe is abandoning selling software as one-off products in favour of a subscription-only model. What will it mean for you?

Adobe has announced at its Los Angeles AdobeMAX summit that it is shifting to an entirely subscription-based model. Users will no longer be able to buy software such as PhotoShop, InDesign, Illustrator and Dreamweaver on a one-off basis but will instead have to sign up to a Creative Cloud subscription. In the UK that will mean paying £46.88 a month for new users or £27.34 for existing customers (those who own CS3 or later) to access all the creative applications. A single application can be bought for £17.58 per month (full details including student pricing here).

As well as the software, the subscription will also give users access to file syncing and cloud-based storage as well as full use of the Behance portfolio site which Adobe acquired last year.

It’s quite a shift from the days of buying software in big boxes with CDs (or even floppies) inside but one that, in many ways, makes a great deal of sense. Upgrades and fixes can be distributed much more quickly and easily. In fact, the subscription model allows Adobe to change its development cycle completely – no longer will, say, the Photoshop team have to wait for the Illustrator team to finish their bits before an upgrade can be released all in one go. New features can, presumably, be released any time.

From Adobe’s point of view, a subscription model no doubt helps in combating piracy and will save considerably on costs (no more packaging for a start).



Many users, however, have already been voicing objections over what they perceive to be increased costs (how many actually felt the need to buy every upgrade in the past, for example?) and the fact that, in order to secure the best price, you must commit up front to a year’s subscription.

As for whether you need to be connected to use the apps (you don’t) or whether you can still access files if you stop subscribing (you can, but only if you save to the earlier version you own), Adobe has some answers here.

For small studios, one big advantage to the new model may be that paying a monthly subscription rather than a one-off big hit makes it easier to plan financially – something that many designers struggle with due to the ad hoc nature of much business.

But beyond arguments over pricing, upgrades and piracy (full Creative Cloud FAQ here), there is a bigger idea at play here. By combining its ‘software as a service’ model, additional tools such as TypeKit and syncing and adding Behance into the mix, Adobe is positioning itself as the essential partner for every aspect of creative life – a constant, daily presence in every stage from getting work to making work. And because it’s subscription-based, Adobe will know exactly who its audience is and what they are doing with its products. It wants to be the place where the creative community comes together as well as a service to that community. So you (and your collaborators) make and share your work with its tools, talk to your peers through its community network and show off the final product via Behance, its portfolio site. It’s involved every step of the way.

Exciting or scary?


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