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Photo Contest Insider Blog

Adobe’s monopoly forces users to pay monthly subscriptions

May 8, 2013


The announcement by Adobe that the latest versions of its Photoshop software will be available through subscription only and not to buy has brought a mixed reaction from users of the software. Adobe’s move comes after individual programs such as Photoshop were bundled together with 15 other programs including Dreamweaver, In-Design, Illustrator and Premiere, into Creative Suite (CS). Adobe believes that just as customers accepted this bundle, they will now accept the new subscriber model known as Creative Cloud (CC), the brand that it uses for web apps. This means that the software can be used on a variety of platforms. “I-tunes for designers? No thanks”, screamed one angry user on the Adobe Community forum. “For sure, as long as your income can cover it then it’s a no-brainer”, says another.

Adobe will continue to sell current versions of Adobe CS6 but, while it will still provide security patches and bug fixes, it will not provide updates. In the UK, access to all programs in the Creative Cloud will cost £47 a month provided customers agree to take out an annual subscription. Those opting to pay on a month-to-month basis will pay £70. Access to individual apps will total £18 a month if customers sign up for a year. These prices are higher than those offered to American subscribers who will pay $49.99 a month for the full suite. All subscribers will also receive access to an online storage system and project management tools and discounts will be available for CS6 owners who sign up before 31 July.

Adobe says switching to a subscription system means product updates can now be introduced continuously in order to provide the latest web standards and technologies. Purchased programs (known in the industry as perpetual licensing) mean that new features and updates can only be produced on a certain cycle every 18-24 months. A subscription system will make the company’s revenue streams more predictable and will also reduce the risk of their products being pirated. The move is the culmination of a year-long pilot programme to establish whether a subscription service would work. The company claims it has 500,000 subscribers for Creative Cloud and is a vindication of its decision. Against that, many complain that Adobe is deciding what is good for the customer rather than asking customers what they need.

“Often photographers won’t upgrade software unless they see a business case for the extra features offered in the newest version,” says Jonathan Briggs of the British Institute of Professional Photographers. “But with the new monthly subscription package, their ongoing personal business choice is taken out of the equation.”

Certainly Adobe’s move to subscription will concentrate the minds of photographers and photographic companies into determining what Adobe tools they need and how much they will have to pay for them.

What are your views on this, does Adobe’s new business model work for you or against you? Tell us your thoughts below.

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