Adobe Creative Cloud – the debate continues…

Adobe, Animation, Info, linkedin, Software, Technology Jul 22, 2013 Comments Off

So the battle continues to rage – and it may indeed prove to be a tempest in a teapot – only time will tell. There are voices of reason on both sides of the argument, which, in case you haven’t been watching, is whether the Adobe Creative Cloud is a step forward in software licensing, or whether it’s another example of corporate greed running rampant through the software industry.

I’m on the fence – I understand why some are angry, and I understand why some have just subscribed, and are happily earning their living using the Creative Cloud. But first let me try to explain what happened, staying as close to the facts as possible. Adobe has been releasing its software for a number of years under the Creative Suite moniker, packaging collections of their software which were relevant to various creative sectors (web, print, television), as well as a complete offering, which was called the Master Collection. In April of 2012, Adobe launched CS6 as a standalone offering, while at roughly the same time announcing that there was a subscription-based offering, which would give users access to individual applications, or the full CS6 Master Collection on a month-by-month basis. In addition to the subscription software, various cloud storage space and other services were promised.

At the time of this first offering, many users quietly jumped on board the Creative Cloud, and many purchased the CS6 traditional offering, myself included (CS6 Master Collection). At the time of my purchase, I was vaguely aware of the Cloud offering, but preferred the perceived rights of ownership, and bought the full collection, also having the disc media shipped for a slight fee. All was quiet and comfortable, until NAB 2013 rolled around, where many of us who use Adobe products for video production and animation go to see what’s new in the industry. Prior to NAB, the better part of a year earlier, Apple had run into a wall with its release of Final Cut Pro X, which many users had decried as a joke (I’m not going down this side road); it caused quite an exodus of users to Premiere Pro, and AVID NLEs, and many of those at NAB were there to see what was coming with the new incarnation of Premiere Pro (CS7 or Next). There was a perception that something was in the works, as far as Adobe moving entirely to a subscription model, and many swore that they were told by Adobe reps that there would be both a “purchase” and a subscription model available.

At the keynote address of the Adobe MAX conference in May of 2013, Adobe announced that they were retiring the “Creative Suite” moniker, and changing to “Creative Cloud”, plus making all future software releases available only through a subscription service. This meant that from the CC release point on, an active subscription would be required in order for the user to be able to access project files for any of the Creative Cloud software. In addition to this requirement, an internet connection would be required so that Adobe could do a monthly check on the subscription status.

This announcement, while putting a “new paradigm” spin on the delivery system (and I think that Adobe believes this is the best possible delivery system), caused a firestorm of controversy, which has divided the worldwide creative community into the CC believers and non-believers.  There have been passionate arguments (and foolish ones) on both sides, and the non-CC crowd has lodged a petition which currently has over 37,000 signatures. The noise has spawned many articles, both pro and con on industry websites, and it seems as if the furor will continue to build. An article on CNET puts a positive spin on the change, while one on Wired takes the opposite approach, calling the change the “upgrade at gunpoint” or “forced renting”. I’m not taking sides – I can only choose what’s right for my business model, which is a one-man shop, with an owner who likes to stay on top of the latest software, because that’s what my clients like. Yes, I “own” the CS6 Master Collection, but at some point, when I upgrade to a new workstation, I’ll have to give serious consideration to adopting the Creative Cloud.

As far as the pros and cons of the decision, I think that the Creative Cloud could prove very cost-effective to a user who is either just getting started, and doesn’t have the money to drop on thousands of dollars worth of software, or for an agency or post-production house which needs a number of seats of the software, but doesn’t need them to be active all the time. Users who tended to purchase the software, and then use it even after several major upgrades have come and gone, may be the unhappiest of the lot – they’re locked in (for the most part) to a continuum of monthly payments if they want to use the software. Adobe seems to be on the winning end, because they will be generating a large, predictable revenue stream, instead of waiting for users who may or may not upgrade when the next major release comes along. They’re selling the concept hard, but have also shown that they are listening to their huge user base. Where will it all shake out? I don’t know, but a great place to watch the lively discussion is on the Creative COW forum.

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