In the age of cloud services, Adobe is taking a giant step in not only offering their flagship software online, but terminating production of physical packaged software entirely and forcing users into the cloud. Adobe is touting it as the best possible way to stay absolutely current with all their software as it develops, essentially eliminating software ‘versions’ in favor of one constantly evolving package.
What does this mean for users of the creative suite?
They want us to believe that we’ll not only get the most out of the tools as they improve, but also enjoy cloud style “everywhere you want to be” support and interaction with a more social style Adobe community.
Right now users can sign an annual contract and gain access to the entire gamut of Adobe creative software for only about $50 per month. That same software in purchased box form is currently retailing upwards of $2000, so on the surface $600 a year sounds like a steal.
The effects of this move will hardly be noticed by enterprise scale agencies, but individual users, freelancers, small firms, independent design groups, students, etc. will all feel the squeeze from this move almost immediately.
Right now freelancers and small indie design shops on tight budgets are perfectly content to only upgrade every other or even every third version. A subscription plan would eliminate the option to do so and force them to make more room in their budgets for software. Adobe has stated that even though the software is downloaded and installed onto the users’ machine, that machine must “check in” at least once a month to validate license numbers in order to keep the software running. If a user stops paying, their software shuts off.
Another hidden cost to consider will be system requirements. If the requirements to run the software increase as the suite evolves, it could literally phase out a machine running it overnight. If on Monday a user is running the software as usual but it “checks in” overnight and downloads the latest patches; by Tuesday morning the now current version could require more “horsepower” than the users’ machine is capable of, and stop working until the user upgrades their hardware. That’s a scary thought if a new stack of computers isn’t in the budget for your creative department.
Since several applications in the suite are considered industry standards within their own right, (in many cases all but uncontested) there is little alternative available for users to migrate away from Adobe. Skeptics fear that once the majority of users have made the move to the cloud and forgotten what it was like to own the software they used for their livelihoods, Adobe could literally triple the price at the drop of a hat, and watch users squirm and cry out, but ultimately pay up if they want to stay in business, or even continue to open their existing files.
What does this mean for our industry?
The big positive behind this move will be the end of an era of incompatibilities between freelancers, agencies and printers. Right now discrepancies in software versions from agencies to printers to design shops can cause headaches in compatibility that can be a huge burden to deadlines and file consistency. If the option to own software goes away, and one by one everyone starts using the same subscription based software, that incompatibility gap will completely dissolve in a relatively short time.