Adobe Goes 'Cloud Only': (Grisly) Film At 11

| About: Adobe Systems (ADBE)

You knew it was coming, didn't you?

In a major shift for its business and its customers, Adobe Systems on Monday announced it no longer will sell its Creative Suite software as it moves instead to the $50-per-month Creative Cloud and other subscription plans.

"We have no current plans to release another perpetual release of the CS tools and suites. Creative Cloud is going to be our sole focus moving forward," said Scott Morris, senior director of product marketing for Creative Cloud.

Note that "Creative Cloud" isn't actually a "cloud" service -- that is, the software downloads to your machine. Only the licensing is cloud-based.

The problem with this is that while it looks like a good deal if you need the whole suite ($50/month .vs. $2,500 for the "Master Collection") in point of fact most users don't run the full suite of apps.

Updates from one version to the next, typically issued on two-year time-frames, were typically around $400 for something like Web Premium. This means that the cost of ownership is more than double on the cloud service. In fact it's worse than that, because Adobe (NASDAQ:ADBE) permitted "version changes" during upgrades.

For example, you could buy the upgrade to Web Premium 5.5 and then when CS6 came out buy Production. You still had the 5.5 Web Premium apps but now had the CS6 apps too, so you wound up with nearly everything but in staggered versions, with some overlap.

The cost of ownership for Adobe users who went this route (that includes me, incidentally) has just gone up a lot.

I've been an Adobe licensee for a long time. My kid has a student subscription to CC, which is a good deal for her, because it's $20/month. At $30/month I'd call it a reasonable deal compared against upgrade costs but at $50, or $600/year? Eh, that's a tougher sell if I am currently a web or production premium customer, and what's worse is that if I happen to be somewhere offsite with my laptop when it wants to do a license check and it can't get to the Internet.... now what?

For those who were Master Collection licensees this change in model will decrease their costs materially. But for those of us who were buying something less this is a fairly significant increase in the total cost of ownership.

I'm sure Adobe likes this model as it gets to recognize monthly revenue. I'm not so sure it works for the customer, especially the customer who doesn't need or want the latest version of everything, every minute.

And that can be a virtue in many cases -- especially when there are bugs in the code that a company releases. Being able to roll back locally is a big deal and can be an utterly-necessary capability in a production environment.

Today I have both Premiere and Sony Vegas for video production, for example. Sony still issues software releases and updates. Therefore, I can load a new version at my leisure and if it sucks for some reason (and that has happened where some version release has crashed on me) I can re-load the old copy in a couple of minutes.

"Cloud-based" subscription models make this impossible, leaving you with the very real potential of an update being taken that completely screws you in the middle of a project with utterly no means of recovery. Even a system restore may not save you if the cloud "management" software "decides" to push-upgrade you, never mind that system restores for this sort of reason are extraordinarily destructive to your workflow.

I have no objection to the choice to buy cloud-subscription service, but to be forced and further to make me accept the risk of a bad update bricking my application suite in a production environment makes me seriously reconsider my desire to own and use Adobe products.

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