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Adobe Creative Cloud pricing: much ado about nothing?
Posted on 9-Sep-2013 15:12 by Bill Bennett | Tags Filed under: Articles


Adobe Creative CloudAdobe’s Creative Cloud looks a lot like Creative Suite 6. There are new features. Some border on revolutionary. Yet overall, the Adobe Creative experience isn’t dramatically different from what went before.

So why have almost 40,000 customers signed a petition against Adobe Creative Cloud?

The customer backlash is because Adobe has moved to a subscription-only model that makes already expensive software more expensive. It doesn’t help that Adobe has a near monopoly on the software used by design professionals.

Adobe Creative Cloud standard

Yes, there are alternatives, but they are often unsatisfactory and rarely as comprehensive. And anyway, these tools are the industry standard. You can’t realistically work without them.

Adobe’s cloud pricing model is more expensive than being able to buy the software piecemeal as needed.

It’s not all bad.

A full Adobe Creative Cloud subscription costs New Zealanders A$50 a month or A$600 a year. Existing customers can upgrade for A$30 a month. That’s also the price Adobe charges students.

So for A$600 a year you can get all the software that would cost close to A$3000 if purchased the old way. The new cloud deal also throws in a few online storage options to sweeten the pot.

Staying up to date

What I like about this deal is the way it means you can always keep bang up-to-date with the software. That’s good for security and its good for staying compatible with everyone else.

On the other hand, it’s also what the complaining customers don’t like. With the old way of buying Adobe software, customers could save money by skipping upgrades. After all, many upgrades are not that necessary. Until Adobe offered me a trial subscription of Creative Cloud, I was still using CS2 – amazingly that ancient version met my needs.

The other counter argument is that the A$50 a month Creative Cloud subscription is all-or-nothing. Adobe does offer subscriptions to individual applications for A$20 a month, but you have to be an intrepid explorer to find these on the company’s website. What’s more you don’t get access to some of the cloud services.

The more you need the cheaper it gets

There’s little question Adobe’s new price regime is designed to increase revenues and margins for the company. Let’s not forget this is the company that appeared to be the worst offender at the Australian price-gouging inquiry.

To be fair to Adobe, there’s no price-gouging with its cloud offering. Exchange rates fluctuate, but at the moment Adobe’s Australian and New Zealand monthly subscription is A$50, that’s less than the US$50 being charged in America

And while many users are unhappy, Adobe’s cloud price scheme is a great deal for the company’s most serious users. Those who rely on multiple Adobe applications and need to stay current get a good deal. These people will be happy with the new price regime. So will start-ups and other less wealthy companies which could use the full suite but might struggle to find the $3000 a pop to equip users.

But is it a cloud?

Despite the name Adobe’s Creative Cloud isn’t software as a service. Users download applications and use them locally. Once a month the software calls home to the Adobe mothership to check subscriptions are up-to-date. If the answer is no, they stop running.

Disclosure: Adobe has given me a one year Creative Cloud subscription so I can review the software – expect to see something on that soon. If I didn’t have the review subscription I’d probably choose to push my old software for as long as possible, but then I’m hardly a hard-core Adobe user these days.  

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