In Terry White's fine article, The Five Myths About Adobe Creative Cloud", he tries to debunk some common misconceptions about Adobe's new Creative Cloud. Like most designers, I am a bit concerned about the direction Adobe has taken. Adobe decided to make all their software cloud-based (in a sense, but not really). A better way to describe it is that they are now leasing their software rather than selling the media for continual licensed usage.
To say the least I have some mixed feelings about this.
- First of all, with this new business model I won't have to worry about upgrading my software, since I will have access to the latest upgrades automatically. My monthly fee will cover access to the newest software. This is nice. On the other hand, upgrading software was never a make or break deal for me. I found it more of a pain that Adobe upgraded so frequently.
- Second, the cost seems minimal (for now). At around $50 a month (right now the limited promotion is for $30 a month) I can use any number of Adobe software to start creating right away. This is great for students or those just graduating. On the other hand, that money is not what I planned on spending. When I had bought an upgraded Adobe Design Premium CS, I would generally pay around $700. That was fine for me, and lasted me for at least 2-5 years. Now with the Creative Cloud I will be spending between $1200 to $3000 over the same period of time. Maybe that works great for larger shops, but not necessarily for me.
- Third, I'm concerned that there are no other options. Creative Cloud would feel less ominous if I could try it out with the option to purchase the software for indefinite use. Or I would feel fine if there were some serious graphic design software competition. But Adobe is the only game in town for designers. And that means that there are no real price controls nor serious customer advocacy. Like the cable company before there was real competition, the price would simply increase steadily, and you pay whether your service was working properly or not.
- Fourth, I don't want to lease my software. I've heard it said that we already pay monthly fees for our utilities, internet access, cell phones, and TV entertainment, so this should be a no-brainer. But, the biggest difference is that this software is what my livelihood is based on. I can make the case that I need my phone and internet service to make money, but it's just not as critical as the software.
- Last, as an in-house designer too, how are companies going to justify the extra payments? Are they going to see design software as the same as their other monthly services? For some companies I believe they will. But there are some who will not see it this way. They will view it as just another expense for a department they doesn't generate any money. (That's a dumb idea, but some folks think this way.) This last issue is less a concern for me. I think good companies will adapt generally, because they understand that design is critical to their business and their bottom line. Those that don't aren't great for designers anyway.
Photo courtesy markemark of morgueFile.com