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Silver lining … or not?

May 8, 2013

Cape Cod clouds

Ars Technica relates how Adobe’s Creative Suite – Photoshop, Dreamweaver, InDesign and others – is “moving to the cloud”.  As Adobe says here:

Creative Cloud changes everything.

We believe the creative process can be better. New, more connected tools. Fonts, files, and projects always in sync. Your creative community just a click away. It’s all coming to Creative Cloud this June.

The technical net of this is:

  • The apps themselves are unchanged.  Your Photoshop filters still run on your hopped-up 8-core Alienware overclock job.
  • The way you pay is subscription.  For $19 a month you get 1 app, 20 GB storage, and some access to the “cloud services”.  There are bundled deals of multiple products, a complete bundle is $600 per year, actually somewhat less than the $699 for a boxed license to Photoshop alone.
  • Don’t know what the services all are yet … seems to focus on assets like fonts, templates, etc.

Response seems mixed.  Looking through the Ars Technica comments there is a positive contingent, as represented by “Korgoth”:

Korgoth Wise, Aged Ars Veteran

for people without a couple grand to get all the tools. Not everyone has $2500 lying around, but most can manage $50 in a month.
Cost wise it might work out to be more in the long term, but it does offer some extras over the boxed version; and allows more people to afford it.

But a lot of folks on the other side observe that this is really a massive price increase, as bluntly described by “Voix des Airs”:

Voix des Airs, Ars Scholae Palatinae

Absolutely not. I upgrade software when the developer provides me a compelling reason to do so. Features that make it worthwhile for me to upgrade. I positively do not want to pay a subscription for a stream of "upgrades" that might be of no value to me.
Screw you Adobe. This dude will not abide.


The logic here is, if I buy PS for $699 now, and say I can use it productively for 4 years, under the new scheme that would cost me $960.  I guess if I really cared about the latest-and-greatest, I’d go for cloud, but I think for 90% of users, PS already has more than they ever need, so what’s the value of these “continuous improvements”?

    I guess I don’t get Adobe’s rationale.  I get they want more money, and constantly flowing money.  But, surely they know a great many customers will use the same reasoning as Voix des Airs?  Why don’t they keep the boxed model and offer the cloud as an option? 

      I gotta believe that tons of users will use this inflection point as opportunity to look at a free alternative, like GIMP.
      If you follow this stuff you probably know that Microsoft is already in the same place Adobe is now going to, with Office 365: $100 per year for rights to install Office on 5 computers, plus 20 GB SkyDrive storage.  Unlike the Adobe thing, the MS thing is a good deal.

    Thoughts?  Rental software good, or bad?

    Categories: Technology
    1. roy
      May 8, 2013 at 1:31 pm

      I am with Voix des Airs. This dude will also not abide (which is very Un-Dude). I don’t trust Adobe (or any company) to execute continuous improvements in a way that will benefit me the paying customer. It’s one thing for no-pay software like FB to endlessly twiddle with their great and glorious software.. I think it may be quite another thing for this brave new world to roll out to paying customers – many of whom rely on this shit for their living.

    2. May 8, 2013 at 2:28 pm

      Favorite comment from Gizmodo article about free alternatives..

      “GIMP is a PhotoShop alternative in the same way that you with an ice cream scoop is an alternative to having the surgeon remove your appendix. You might get the same result but one is going to be a damn site more painful…”

      • May 8, 2013 at 2:35 pm

        Yes and no. Remember the old adage about 80% of the people using a program using only 10% of the features. High end PhotoShop pros may baulk at GIMP, but for us lesser mortals who may use PhotoShop casually – it’s no contest. I’m using GIMP right now to compose my latest book of embroidery patterns. It works and works quite well.

        On the value proposition above, I would probably accede to rent-a-software and its attendant updating schemes for an operating system, which may require frequent tinkering to stay secure, but as a private individual, I would not want to continuously shell out for most application software. I’d seek free or lower cost alternatives, unless there was a work-related or compliance requirement for the full-cost package.

    3. Alexandra Brody Salazar
      May 8, 2013 at 2:39 pm

      From where I stand (media major, profession is target consumer for PS) Adobe has hit an interesting wall in selling it’s product. It’s the dominant product in its field; it’s practically mandatory to own it. But it aims its product not at the ordinary consumer, but at professionals. This means it’s assured sales from them, but in the face of a huge pricetag most non-subsidized or nonprofessional consumers would rather pirate it. Adobe loses a ridiculous amount of money this way; it’s no longer in control of its own distribution. This cloud idea is a way to make adobe products more attractive to those who would have once pirated the product, having Adobe see no money at all.

      Adobe, even though it pretty much has a monopoly on the industry standard image manipulation software, is losing money in a massive way competing against a free pirated version of its own product. By moving to the cloud, not only does it make future versions harder to hack and pirate, it takes a digital rights tip from companies like Ubisoft, and forces consumers to have a connection to Adobe at all times. Basically, Adobe does not trust that you didn’t pirate, is forcing you to share it’s product rather than download it yourself. The price tag is a side-issue to the fact that Adobe basically would constantly spy on your copy of photoshop to make sure you paid for it. Which is not something I am comfortable with; I don’t like the ideas of companies having the mindset that the consumer is not to be trusted.

      • May 8, 2013 at 3:23 pm

        I think that this is a good summary.

        In some sense, some privacy intrusion is built into offering software via the cloud. There is a need to verify the authenticity of the usage. This is not done only with cloud usage but also with many normal licensed installed software.

        BTW, I am using MS Office 365 and enjoy it. It saves the hustle of remembering keys, uninstalling from old machines (copies can be deactivated from the web) etc.

        Wish they will provide it for the Mac also soon.

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