Monday, May 06, 2013

Adobe drops software sales in favor of subscriptions

Earlier today, Adobe announced a major change in strategic direction. Its Creative Suites, which bundle software such as Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Illustrator, Premiere Pro and After Effects into multiple packages for applications such as video post-production and web design, will be discontinued as of June, when the company introduces the next version of its Creative Cloud service. CS6, the current version of Adobe's Creative Suite, will remain on the market in both physical and downloadable versions, but will not be updated. In addition, individual applications will only be available in physical and downloadable versions in their CS6 form. As of June, the only way to get the latest version of Adobe's software will be to subscribe to either the complete Creative Cloud or to individual applications.

As with the current version of Creative Cloud, the new version will be priced at $49.99/month, and individual applications will be priced at $19.99/month. Existing Adobe customers who own either a complete copy of Creative Suite 3 or greater, or one of the applications in Creative Suite 3 or greater, can take advantage of three different pricing models:
  • They can license individual applications for $9.99/month.
  • If they own CS6, they can license the complete Creative Cloud collection for $19.99/month.
  • If they own CS3, CS4, CS5 or CS5.5, they can license the complete Creative Cloud collection for $29.99/month.
After the first year, the price of individual applications will increase to $19.99/month, and the price of Creative Cloud will increase to $49.99/month.

Customers who use most of Adobe's applications, such as those in the former Production and Master Creative Suite collections, will end up saving money with Creative Cloud versus buying annual updates. On the other hand, customers who use fewer applications, such as those in the Design and Web Creative Suite collections, and customers who've typically skipped versions of Creative Suite in the past, will end up paying more on an annual basis for Creative Cloud subscriptions.

As it stands today, Creative Cloud is a good deal for many Adobe customers, but what we don't know are Adobe's future pricing plans. What's $49.99/month this year could be considerably more in a few years. My sense is that there's going to be a lot of resistance to the end of Adobe's Creative Suites and individual purchase options, and a fair number of creative professionals will begin evaluating open source and lower-cost replacements for Adobe's software.
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