Adobe is ending focus on Creative Suite and switching over to Creative Cloud only. Adobe Creative Suite 6 will continue to be sold and will have minor patch fixes, but don’t expect any new features. Rather than release a Creative Suite 7, Adobe will require users to subscribe to Adobe Creative Cloud. The service itself went live last year, but it becoming mandatory will upset or confuse many users. There will be changes, some of them bad, but this switch has some improvements. Your financial situation, daily need for Creative Suite, and how many apps you use can all factor into how this move will affect you. Are you a full time professional, freelancer, student, or just a causal user? Your transition to Creative Cloud can be completely different, and in most cases it’s harmful.
We’ll explore how Adobe Creative Cloud works and why the change has both good and bad parts.
Creativity for rent
Creative Cloud uses a subscription system in order to access apps. This means you will never fully own the apps you’re using. You could be shoveling money into Creative Cloud for years, yet it will go poof the moment you end the service. Worse yet is that the majority of the subscription plans require a yearlong commitment. Adobe hopes to sweeten the annual bundles by including cloud storage and services to help mobile ready content. The annual commitment is even more confusing as Adobe’s US buying guide lists prices per month. Costs also change considerably depending on which version of Creative Suite you already own and if you happen to be student or teacher. Let’s break down both the current monthly and yearly costs of using Creative Cloud for individuals:
- Those that do not have an older version of Creative Suite or one older than version 3, will pay $50 a month, a $600 a year commitment.
- Those that own Creative Suite 3, 4, 5, or 5.5, will pay $30 a month, a $360 commitment for the first year. After that it becomes $50 per month, $600 per year.
- Those that own Creative Suite 6 will pay $20 a month, a $240 commitment for the first year. After that it becomes $50 per month, $600 per year.
- Students and teachers will pay $20 a month, a $240 commitment for the first year if you sign up by June 25th. After that it becomes $30 per month, $360 per year.
- You can also pay for single apps for $20 a month and there is no yearlong commitment.
- There is also a 30-day free trial, including all apps but limited access to services.
The discounted prices will also change after July 31st, meaning $50 a month for standard users and $30 a month for students and teachers. There are additional deals for business teams that includes increased cloud storage, exclusive access to Adobe experts, and lowered prices for existing customers (ranging from $40-$70 a month). Creative Cloud for business teams also does not require an annual commitment.
Keep in mind that these are only the US prices. Packages in Europe are considerably more expensive. For example, the price in Britain is £47 ($73 US) per month and countries that use the euro will pay €61 ($80 US) per month. In many ways US customers are getting a much better deal, though that still doesn’t mean it’s good.
Stuck in a contract
The price tag can be very daunting if you only use a handful of programs. Many people only use Photoshop, Premiere, Illustrator, or Acrobat. If you aren’t taking advantage of the rest of the package Creative Cloud might not be worth it. Additionally, students and non-professionals might not be using the apps year around. You can avoid the yearlong fees by subscribing to apps separately for $20 per app per month. With nineteen programs in the suite that could mean spending up to $380 a month. That’s way too high just to avoid a twelve month obligation. There is thankfully a 30-day free trial for Creative Cloud, which could tide you over.
Cloud doesn’t mean always online
One confusion about Creative Cloud is that many users believe you need to always be connected to the cloud to use the suite. This isn’t actually true. Creative Cloud does not use web apps, but apps you download to your computer. The apps only need to verify your subscription once a month to be fully functional offline. This actually isn’t new, as Adobe Creative Suite 6 (and earlier versions) already connects to Adobe to check licenses. This system of anti-piracy isn’t new, though it was less obvious before.
No big releases, no big disappointments
The subscription model changes Adobe’s presence in the software market. They no longer have to hype up big releases to sell new version of Creative Suite, everything will now be readily available from the cloud. You could argue that this lack of yearly releases will make Adobe apps less appealing and that they lack the draw that used to convince users on the fence to upgrade. The big counterpoint is that there will no longer be yearly disappointments. Often times, major updates to Creative Suite focused on less popular programs, while mature apps such as Photoshop or Premiere were just fluffed up with unsubstantial features. With a subscription Adobe has the freedom to carefully schedule and rollout better updates.
One nice bonus to Creative Cloud is that updates will come faster. Your subscription means that Adobe will no longer withhold big updates for the next release of Creative Suite. Instead, those changes that used to take years to be compiled into a new program will now arrive as soon as they are ready. Fast updates are incredibly handy to professional users, especially for no additional charge. You also don’t need to install any new updates, leaving your apps the same old version. If you aren’t in a rush for new content, frequent updates won’t be very appealing.
Creative Cloud will be rolled out fully in June, and it’s inevitable that everyone will adapt to it sooner or later. The question remains how soon you should make the change, and is the transition even good. It all depends on why and how often you’ll use Adobe Creative Cloud:
- Full time Professionals – Creative Cloud highly benefits those that will be using the programs in their careers. The price tag isn’t that high for someone that has a steady income and the amount of quick updates will be very useful. Extra features such as cloud storage are very handy, allowing you to transfer big projects across computers. The business team packages are also great for whole companies that will be distributing multiple licenses to different employees. Professionals will be pleased with the update and will want to upgrade as soon as possible.
- Freelancers – Freelancers also will also be using Creative Cloud for their work. The quick updates are very welcome, but being on their own means that they are likely ineligible for business team packages. Most freelancers earn their pay by completing individual jobs. This can definitely be a hindrance when work is slow and money is tight. The subscription model can hurt freelancers that can’t afford shelling out annual fees. There isn’t a clear-cut way out for solo artists, though they can get a discount if they have both a current version of Creative Suite and are willing to upgrade before July 31st.
- Students – Despite Adobe’s student and educator deal, students are getting screwed by the switch to Creative Cloud. The lowered student discount is only available through June, which means that many will be paying before the school year even starts. This also holds true for the rest of the school year. You might only use Creative Cloud for a single semester, yet you’re stuck in a $240 year long commitment. Students should wait before upgrading and wait to see if Adobe provides a better educational package.
- Casual users – Those who simply don’t use Creative Suite frequently have no real incentive to switch to Creative Cloud. These updates offer nothing notably useful, and the cost and commitment is too great. Even if you currently own Creative Suite 6 the $240 yearly price won’t mean much if you aren’t constantly using the apps. Hold off and wait until it’s absolutely necessary to upgrade. If you truly do want to try Creative Cloud, try the 30-day free trial first and see if you like the new system.
The move to Creative Cloud is on its way, but it only really benefits those that rely on the majority of the apps daily: companies and fulltime professionals. Freelancers might not be able to afford a yearly subscription, students won’t need apps outside of classes, and there really isn’t anything enticing for standard consumers. Creative Cloud only helps a fraction of Adobe’s user base, while alienating the rest.
It’s understandable that Adobe wants to push for a subscription model, but killing off purchasable apps seems extreme. Though unlikely, it’s not too late for Adobe to change their plans.