In case you missed the big news of the week in the photography community, Adobe on Monday announced that they will stop offering boxed versions of their software, including Photoshop, and all future releases will be available on a subscription basis. They are ending their Creative Suite CS product line and replacing it with a Creative Cloud CC offering.
Gone are the days of purchasing stand-alone versions of the software as well as paying for upgrades every 18 months or so. Replacing it are monthly subscription fees. Depending on how many of Adobe products you use, and how often you upgrade, this can at least financially seem like a good or a bad deal.
This CC policy effects the newest version of Photoshop that everyone was expecting to be CS7. The soon to be released Lightroom 5 will not be effected right away and will be available both in CC and stand alone versions. However I have read that the CC version of Lightroom will eventually have features not offered in the stand-alone version.
For me personally I only use Photoshop and Lightroom and I am not very pleased with this sudden change of course. I am not even using CS6 and am still on CS5. Myself, like many photographers, usually end up skipping an upgrade here and there because, to be quite honest, sometimes the upgrades are not all that worth it. This is probably part of the reason Adobe is switching to a subscription model - to get constant revenue from everyone instead of revenue in big batches when updates come out.
If you are like me and don't update every release, the subscription plan will cost us more money.
If you are only interested in subscribing to Photoshop and own version CS3 or later and subscribe before July 31st you will be charged a special rate of $9.99 a month for the first year with a 1 year contract. If you subscribe after July 31st it is $19.99 - again with a 1 year contract.
Adobe typically upgraded Photoshop every 18 months, and their last upgrade cost $199. If you subscribe for $19.99 a month, over the course of 18 months you will end up paying $359.82 - a $160.82 increase over the course of 18 months. If you subscribe before July 31 for $9.99 a month you will end up paying $179.82 - slightly less than the upgrade price. Note that this is only for Photoshop and as far as I can tell, the Lightroom CC version will be extra.
To sum it up - if you already own Photoshop and get stuck on the $19.99 a month plan, you will be paying more than you did before. If you get in at the $9.99 per month plan before July 31 and always upgraded before when the next version came out, you will pay slightly less than you did for the 1 year contract. I am still not clear as to what happens when your year is up as to wether you can continue on paying $9.99 a month or you will be forced to pay $19.99 per month. My guess is that after the 1 year contract Adobe can do whatever it wants to.
Outside of cost there are other reasons why I don't like this plan. If you stop your subscription you can not use the software. Photoshop will phone-home every 30 days to check your subscription status. Don't pay, and you can't use the software anymore. Nor would you be able to open any Photoshop propriety files on your computer - a very dangerous proposal. This is the same for all of the programs in the CC suite.
A much better plan Adobe easily could have implemented would be to subscribe monthly for updates, and if you decide not to continue your subscription you could continue to use the software minus the updates, allowing you to continue working on your files. What it appears is that Adobe wants to get you hooked and maintain a constant revenue stream from its users.
There are other problems with this model. What incentive do they have to constantly innovate when they are already getting large sums of cash each month? In the old model they had to make upgrades compelling for us to buy (which wasn't always the case). Now locked into a monthly payment they can take a step back and count the dollars rolling in by pushing little updates here and there.
And how much more can they innovate? Digital photography has progressed so far already, is there much more room in the future for ground-breaking ways to enhance our photos?
As for CS6 - Adobe said it is currently still available for purchase for now (although I can not now find how to purchase it online at their site), but it will not be supported anymore. Photoshop Elements is not part of the CC suite and it is assumed at this point that it will still be produced as a stand-alone - but for how long?
Adobe and Photoshop have long been industry leaders. I have been using Photoshop since it came out, and I am not happy with this new policy. They have a monopoly and it appears they are now flexing their muscles despite the wishes of its photographer customers. The first post of this on dpreview.com brought almost 1700 comments in 24hrs - almost all not in support of this. A poll started yesterday shows that 60.2% of 4,732 votes do not like this because of repeatedly having to pay for access. Even Microsoft is surprised at Adobe and said they will continue to offer packaged software for the foreseeable future.
My hope is that other photography companies will see this as an opportunity and really start to innovate and compete more directly with Adobe and Photoshop. Just because Photoshop is the big goliath in the photo world doesn't mean it is the only player. There are a number of decent alternatives already and I expect those to get better. I will soon start mentioning them in the near future.
So what do you think? Are you in favor of this subscription/rental model? Do you plan on subscribing? Is it a good or bad value for your photography business or hobby? Sound off in the comments below.