Adobe recently announced its decision to discontinue the Creative Suite product, in light of the positive response to their recently implemented Creative Cloud – a subscription based service to their programs. Adobe had previously acknowledged that they were uncertain of how long these two products would coexist, so the decision comes as little surprise. But that hasn’t stopped people within the creative community voicing their opinions on the matter, myself included. I’ve been a staunch user of Adobe products going as far back as the days of when I used to slap naff photoshop effects on all my early student work. So here is my two cents.
The Creative Suite (CS) products were a packaged set of Adobe offered computer applications, such as Photoshop & Illustrator. Like the Apple Mac, Adobe Creative Suite has been a staple of the designer’s toolkit for well over a decade. New versions were released as often as every 1–2 years, the latest being version CS6 back in May 2012. Creative Cloud (CC), first introduced a little over a year ago, is a subscription based service to Adobe applications, which allow people to license their products for a monthly or yearly fee.
Among the reasons as to why this decision has attracted criticism is the issue of accessing Adobe files without a Creative Cloud subscription; if I one day decided that I didn’t want to continue with CC, what would become of all my files, should Adobe decide not to instil backwards compatibility in future iterations?
In terms of costs, a comparison of CS v CC’s current rates over a three year period favours the latter quite considerably. So this new model would benefit consumers who would otherwise upgrade their CS products on a consistent basis. Although this comparison would do little to allay the worries of CC’s skeptics – Adobe’s monopoly on the market would certainly allow them to increase the subscription rates in the future. This also changes the nature of Adobe’s revenue stream – it would allow for less peaks and troughs that came with the spacing between each iteration of CS.
The people who will really feel hard done-by are those that don’t intend on updating that frequently; namely small businesses & freelancers. By no means has it ever been imperative for Adobe reliant consumers to upgrade at every release of CS (even CS3, released in 2007, remains a solid option). The end of CS also overlooks one very important group in the form of students, i.e. Adobe’s potential new consumers. Adobe are well aware that their products are moved through peer-to-peer networks, with tight budgeted graphic design students being the main culprits. Online piracy wouldn’t exist in Adobe’s ideal world, but surely they would see the silver lining. The moment students make that step into professional practice, purchasing legitimate software obviously becomes mandatory. Having had access to Adobe products throughout their ‘formative’ years, it would have bred a level of brand loyalty which generally favours Adobe in the long run. Is the incentive there for students to add an extra $50 per month on top of their tertiary expenses, at a time when they aren’t bringing in any significant income?
Adobe maintain that the decision was spurred by what was, according to them, an overwhelming reception to the introduction of CC. Going by some of the backlash that has ensued, consumers are definitely sensing an air of arrogance. It wasn’t so long ago that Adobe faced scrutiny for its geographical pricing differences, something they have since gone on to address but will have no doubt left a bitter taste for many. Revenue motivated decisions are taking the gloss off of a brand that was once so celebrated.
If I continue to look through a brand tinted lens, I can’t help but feel that there is an opportunity there for a new player. This is the decade of startups, and wouldn’t it be great to see someone stake a claim in the market that Adobe so obviously has a stronghold of? Something that simplifies the creative process, addresses current problems… I’ll let those with the know how think of exactly what that is.
A Truly Deeply Creative.