Adobe’s Cloud Move: Really That Big a Deal?

A few weeks back, CNET ran an article on Adobe’s decision to stop selling the Creative Suite and move exclusively to the cloud. All of designers’ favorite software will now be cloud- and subscription-based under the name Creative Cloud.

It was the roar heard round the industry. As of this moment, the CNET article has 527 comments, and in one LinkedIn discussion group, the link has sparked 98 comments — almost unheard of for LinkedIn. There are a lot of fired up print shops and designers both concerned about the ramifications of the move on their business and offended by what seems to be a Big Brother decision over which they have no control.

I’ve written a number of articles on this issue, and I’ve read comments until my eyes blur. Among those who are unhappy with the change, their reasoning seems to fall into three camps.

1. They think the software and their files will reside in the cloud, thereby opening them to risk if the Internet goes down.

They also don’t want to be forced to continually learn the ins and outs and deal with the snafus that come with upgrades. What if they want to stick with their older version they are comfortable with or that is compatible with their clients’ files?

These are non-issues and reflect a lack of understanding of the move.

Creative Cloud and the files created with these apps do not reside in the cloud. Users access the Internet to download updates — but only when you choose to do so — and to occasionally verify that their subscription is up to date. When you upgrade, the software downloads to your computer. The files reside on your computer just like always. It’s just that if you stop your subscription, your access to the Creative Cloud software is restricted.

If you want to stick with an older version, you can do that as long as you want to. If you upgrade and don’t like it or it creates problems with compatibility, the earlier versions are archived and you can access them at any time.

2. They are concerned about the costs.

Adobe is charging $50 per month for subscriptions, which equates to $600 per year. Many designers keep their software for years before upgrading, so the $600 annual cost is an unfair burden.

If you are new to Adobe software, that’s true. But if you already have the Creative Suite, Adobe is only charging $30 per month for access to the entire suite. If you only want one app, such as Photoshop or InDesign, you only pay $20 per month. There are other discounted plans for enterprises/teams and educational use.

Those costs can be rolled into the project costs and cost of doing business. If you have 10 clients, charge each client an extra $3 per month to cover the cost of the cloud.

3. They are offended by the move and don’t want Adobe to tell them what to do.

To these, I say, “Get over it.”  My LIFE is subscription-based.  I pay a subscription for my email newsletter campaigns. I pay a subscription for cloud back-up and disaster recovery. I pay a subscription for my membership to the gym, for my mobile devices, and for my cable TV and Internet. If you are going to be offended by Adobe’s decision, then there are lots of other folks who deserve your ire, too. If you aren’t offended by AT&T, Comcast Cable, Constant Contact,, the YMCA, or Gold’s, then give Adobe a break.

My two cents. Okay, maybe four . . .

Share this post


20 thoughts on “Adobe’s Cloud Move: Really That Big a Deal?

  1. Paul Gardner

    Wow? That’s it? That’s your professional recommendation after deep consideration? Get Over It? That’s REMARKABLY similar to what we’ve been hearing from Adobe.

  2. Per Arne Flatberg

    My concern, and what I hear from across the industry, is about what happens if you terminate the subscription. There will be no way to access your old files. That’s especially true for indsign-uses, where the file format changes from version to version. For the rest of Adobe’s software, the fileformats are normally open and available to read from other software as well.

  3. Heidi Tolliver-Walker Post author

    Great point. I have seen this addressed on Adobe’s blog. Here is what Terry White has to say on this topic. She cites this as “Myth #4”:

    # 4 “If I decide to leave Creative Cloud I won’t be able to access the files I’ve created.”

    When you create files with the various Creative Apps from Adobe, the files are yours. Adobe doesn’t take any ownership or copyright of those files. If you decide to no longer be a Creative Cloud member then you won’t have access to your Creative Cloud applications anymore, but if you’ve got previous CS App versions, you’ll be able to open your files provided that you’ve saved them down to compatible formats with your older applications or other 3rd party Applications. If you ever decided to re-join Creative Cloud you’ll have access to the latest Creative Apps again and you’ll be able to continue working on YOUR files.

    Here is the link to the entire blog post. There are 202 comments worth reading:

  4. Chris CoZi


    1a-“Users access the Internet to download updates — but only when you choose to do so”
    #- Adobe SPECIFICALLY in the license states they will be able to modify your software any time they choose to do so. (I’ll assume they are benign masters.)

    1b-“If you want to stick with an older version, you can do that as long as you want to.”
    #- ONLY as long as you continue to pay monthly for the use of the software.

    2a-“But if you already have the Creative Suite, Adobe is only charging $30 per month for access to the entire suite.”
    #- WITH NO ABILITY TO CONTRACT THAT FEE beyond the annual license. At any point in the future Adobe can CHANGE that fee.

    2b- ???

    #-And you NEVER HAVE the ability to RESELL your ‘license’. Your standard physical item lease agreement, ie Automobile, has a $1 buyout for you to acquire the rights to the product. Ok, I paid my $600 and I want to sell it – Ooops.

    2c- “charge each client an extra $3 per month to cover the cost of the cloud.”
    #- Yes that’s right Mr. Customer you now have to pay my new ‘ADOBE TAX’.

    3a- “If you aren’t offended by AT&T, Comcast Cable, Constant Contact,, the YMCA, or Gold’s, then give Adobe a break.”

    #- So we shouIdn’t be offended by those other services as well in some regard???
    But I call Straw Man argument. Except for Constant Contact and Salesforce the other companies have PHYSICAL PRODUCTS that you use and are charged BASED ON THAT USAGE.
    Hey Adobe, what physical product of yours am I using??? Your licensing servers to make sure I’m in compliance ???
    And as for Constant Contact and Salesforce THEY ADD VALUE with their software and servers. I can take a database of customer info and use either of these products to ADD ONGOING VALUE to that database.
    When I, me, create something in Adobe products WHAT ONGOING VALUE DO THEY ADD ????

    Face it – Adobe has no concern for you as a user. Their STATED goal is to change their income model to better allow for fluctuations in their income levels.

    As many have stated in other blogs and forums – Good luck with that Adobe.

  5. Heidi Tolliver-Walker Post author

    Chris, your points are well taken. However, how is that different from any other business? Is what Adobe is doing really all that different?

  6. Chris CoZi

    No different than any other business.
    They are in control of their products.
    But let’s call a duck a duck, eh?
    Can you say SAS? (Software as a Service).
    You may never again be the OWNER of a license to Adobe software if they have anything to say about it.
    I’ld say that’s a pretty significant change in their business model and that is an issue.

    I think I’ll go rent some paintbrushes and canvas from the art store now, thanks.
    How silly does THAT sound?

    At least we know that is how they are going to ‘sell’ their products and we/you can be informed consumers.


  7. Heidi Tolliver-Walker Post author

    I’ve heard this concern raised a few times before: “Now that Adobe has done it, everyone will do it.” I wonder how much of the industry’s concern about this move is about Adobe specifically and how much has to do with a concern that this will open the floodgates for other, smaller software companies to do the same? So that it becomes the standard for graphic design software at large?

  8. Noel Ward

    To a certain extent a lot of the whining, moaning and carping about Adobe’s move is just people venting because the world is not working the way they would like. Get over it.

    From all I’ve read, the Adobe Cloud can certainly be used for storing (and sharing) files, but who in their right mind is going to store the only version of something they have spent hours creating in Adobe’s (or any other) cloud? You keep a copy (or three) on your own system, right along with all the Adobe CS software. And if you want compatibility with that version of CS that you have in a box on your shelf, save the ID file created in ID 6 so it is compatible. This is a minor inconvenience, but it sure ain’t rocket science. As for upgrades, you don’t have to do them unless you want to, although I suspect that’s a blurry line as Adobe makes changes over time.

    I don’t like subscriptions, but they are the way things are. On the upside, I get more software that I can use to do better work. In my case, I need After Effects and Premier as well as ID, PS and Illustrator. Getting them all for $30 a month is OK, and adding $5 to an invoice is hardly a deal-breaker. Heck, I include an “equipment fee” on every video shoot, so this is no different. It’s also no different than taking the total cost of buying Adobe CS in a box, taking that $2000+ hit all at once—and then having to spread that out over a bunch of monthly invoices.

    Ironically, I really don’t like Adobe software all that much. The logic they use doesn’t work the way my brain does. But it is good software and I can use it a lot of different ways. I find clients appreciate that I’m using what they perceive to be the best tools for the job they are paying for.

    Of course, anyone who doesn’t like Adobe’s strategy can keep using their old version or find another tool to do the job. No one is forcing the upgrade.

  9. Heath Cajandig

    Thanks for bringing this up and clarifying some points with good discussion.

    Another way people benefit from a subscription based model is that it requires that the service provider stay in closer alignment with the customer in order to keep revenue flowing.

    This means that they are more driven to create features with real value vs the features that demo well and/or try to get you to upgrade for a big revenue chunk intended to tie them over for several years until the next release.

  10. Heidi Tolliver-Walker Post author

    Thanks Heath and Noel for some support for my position. Over on the Digital Printing LinkedIn board, I’m taking quite the arrows and being accused for working for Adobe (or at least sounding like I do)! For me, it’s a matter of practicality. It is what it is, and in the end, the industry will adapt to this just like it’s adapted to everything else, and these discussions will be a faded memory.

  11. Jon Marken

    Adobe itself has said the $30 a month is a one-year deal. It will be $50 a month. And it can (and will) go up at any time.

    Historically you can save InDesign documents down only one step. Once InDesign 8 debuts, the version 6 I own won’t help.

    Lots of mom and pop print shops, if still in business, are already reeling. No big deal at all to pass on yet more costs to the customer, huh. Rural areas especially can’t charge the big bucks urban areas charge for design.

    I’m nearing retirement but would like to keep designing part-time. That will cost me $50 a month, a big bite for part-time work.

    The bottom line–one size doesn’t fit all. Adobe doesn’t care about consumers in odd sizes. How I wish some major competition would emerge.

  12. Nicolas

    As a small business owner with several copies of CS, I’d be much happier paying a small subscription fee than having to fork out many many 1000’s every year in one lump sum. I’m all for this move.

    Access to upgrades is great – can’t understand why anyone would be scared of upgrades?! Must be too lazy to learn one or two new tools obviously!

    Also sick and tired of clients of ours that I know use pirated copies of CS – now they’ll have no excuses about not being able to afford it! Adobe create outstanding software and have every right to try to fight piracy of their products using this subscription method. Keep up the good work, Adobe!

    PS – Good point, Heath Cajandig – this is something that in my experience Adobe is lacking in.

  13. Jim Pattison

    ‘Get over it’. Alot of people seem to be perfectly happy forfeiting their work to an unknown, supposed ‘safe’ (see Chinese Hacking into Pentagon, etc….) non-faced entity. I cannot believe that of all people, creative people, are so willing to give up their ideas when usually they guard their intellectual property, because it is after all their property.

    Just ‘Get over it’ is what they will say when they (because no one is putting their face on ‘the cloud’) crash, loose your work or your work shows up on a different item that you didn’t design. Just Get Over It. The future in the hands of the ‘Get over it’ people is not bright, it is Dark, Dank and Gray. Read about the Soviet Union, Cuba, China they too had a ‘Get over it’ attitude. God help us all .

  14. Heidi Tolliver-Walker Post author

    Good grief! I can’t seem to count how many people have been offended by the “get over it” comment as if that were a blanket statement. The point in the post is that if the ONLY reason you don’t like Adobe’s move is philosophical, then yes, get over it. But there are certainly “boots on the ground” issues to be considered, as well. The “get over it” comment was clearly and specifically not directed at those issues. It’s amazing how many people are SO offended by Adobe’s move that they miss that one, basic (but very critical) point.

  15. Michael Bell

    Well, unfortunately, Adobe is going the way of every other software company, as they see the value, to them, of the subscription model. It will bring a more steady income for them and undoubtedly, a higher income. Anti-Virus software has led the way on subscriptions, Microsoft is doing it with Office, although you still have a choice between purchase and “lease”, for now. There are also hundreds of SaaS (Software As A Service), products out there as well, we might as well get used to it, it’s where the industry is going.

    There are positives and negatives to the model, but over all, it’s not all bad. People are afraid of change and the unknown. Especially when long standing and embedded products from Adobe want to make a major paradigm shift in licensing. It’s scary.

    That said, there are still choices. Corel has some very good software. I use both Adobe and Corel products, and Corel holds it’s own very well against Adobe, and in my opinion, some actually better than Adobe. I much prefer Corel Draw and Paintshop, and not only for the lower cost.

    If you don’t like the new Adobe licensing model, go Corel. Tell Adobe what you want with your wallet, the free enterprise way. Companies pay attention to where the money goes, not to the grumbling in the streets. I have a feeling however, that in the long run, subscriptions are here to stay.

  16. Jon Marken

    Nicolas says “I’m all for this move.”

    Nobody objects to you leasing your software from Adobe. We’re glad that model works for you. What we object to is lack of choice.

    It’s like a major auto maker announcing they’re not going to sell cars anymore, only lease them. And if you’ve been buying a new car every two years this is actually a better deal. And it’s a better deal yet because you also get all their extras – power everything, sunroof, chrome wheels, you name it.

    And then fans of leasing cars tell everyone else “just go with it. It’s no big deal.”

    Only in the case of cars, it would be easy to simply buy from another company. In the case of Adobe, who has a lock on much of the graphic design industry, there’s no other company to buy from. And that’s why they can get away with it. And that is why we’re aggravated.

    For me $50 a month per seat is not a “small subscription fee.” It’s a major expense. For some people/companies it’s no big deal, and that’s who Adobe is catering to. I’ve been buying Adobe software since 1986, but I’m no longer a demographic they care about.

  17. Jeff Wright

    Ironic that you have this posted on a news letter that was formally known as Printing Industries of Northern California (PINC). No packaging no printing!

  18. Greg

    The problem with Heidi’s get over it is that some people – like me – HATE subscriptions. The threat is you end up getting nickel and dimed to death, and own nothing in the end. Most corporate environments skip upgrade cycles because once you get stable, you want to stay stable. And we have a depreciable asset when we do buy the software.. Now, following the lead of the cows, we’ll all end up in this death spiral of endless subscriptions and NSA snooping with people reading my e-mails about… Oops.. Sorry – lost my train of thought. Anyway, the new model of software is really only good for one entity – the publisher. We can try to put the lipstick on the proverbial pig, but it still be an ugly pig…

  19. Eric C

    I don’t mind Adobe charging subscription fees for Creative Suite. I can see Microsoft moving in this direction, as well as more and more software companies. There are plenty of examples of ‘boxed’ software that is now subscription-based: Quickbooks, Salesforce, Office 365. The list is growing.

    What I DON’T like is that Adobe only offers two choices: You can subscribe to one program, or you can subscribe to ALL programs.

    For someone who uses Creative Suite on a part-time basis, and for someone that has NO NEED for apps like Encore, Premiere and Flash … $600 per year is a lot of money.

    Why can’t Adobe offer “versions” of Creative Cloud? Remember they used to sell Design/Web Standard, Design/Web Premium, and Master Collection? Why can’t I have that same choice?

    I’d pay $25 /month for Design/Web Premium.
    $50 /month for the entire suite of products sounds like a good deal, but not if you’ll never use 60% of the software.

    I want to see Adobe offer subscription levels besides “one” or “all”

Comments are closed.