Why Adobe Creative Cloud is a bad idea for photographers

Yesterday at Adobe MAX, Adobe talked about the future of the Creative Suite, or more accurately the no-future of the Creative Suite. As I predicted, this is the last version of the Creative Suite. From here forward, if you want current Adobe software you will only have a single option, that of subscribing to the Creative Cloud. I like Adobe products, but there is nothing in the Creative Cloud that is sufficiently compelling to photographers. In fact, Adobe put so much spin on the "value proposition" that it could torque the top off the Burj Khalifa. Why would Adobe do this?

Benefits to Adobe

  • Single code base, centrally reposited
  • Annuity revenue stream
  • Prevents software piracy on new versions
  • Ability to release new features on availability
  • It's a subscription. No subscription, software stops working
  • Cloud connections allow siphoning of user usage data
  • No public patch library to maintain

Bad for You

  • No local install to use when you want to if subscription expires
  • Pay forever model
  • Over the shoulder data gathering
  • No ability to run older versions

Alleged Benefits to You

  • New features available sooner without waiting for a version update
  • Payable over time, no single large charge
  • No need to buy software assurance
  • Create new workflows across multiple devices

Adobe is a business. They will make decisions that will do at least one of three things, preferably all three.  Not that your happiness is not in this list.

  • Increase Profit
  • Decrease Cost
  • Reduce Risk

When they make these decisions, you and I as customers come way down on the priority list. This is completely normal. Companies say customer first but it's not true. It's always company first spun in a manner to smell like the customer is winning. Sometimes, the customer even does win. The alleged benefits of the Creative Cloud are dubious on their best day. The lie about new features being available faster is a complete pantload. Service packs and updates have been the norm forever and new code and new services have been delivered this way since day one. The Adobe statement is a burning bag of s**t. The illusion that you will save money is another load of poo. You only save money if you have a clear end date when you will no longer use the software and this end date is prior to when you would have paid the traditional license model off. Adobe is SMART. They understand that once they've hooked you, getting off the hook will be hard. What benefit has software assurance ever really delivered to anyone? In a demand marketplace, new versions appear regularly, they are always upgrades and the software assurance will have magically expired or the change will make the assurance not qualify. Microsoft has smoked customers with this line of crap for years. IBM does this today. It's not new, it's an old well proven lie. As a user I may be able to create new workflows across multiple devices but to do so, I will be binding my workflow and devices to Adobe. You're free to work any way you want so long as it's Adobe's way.

The sad reality is that there is nothing really in here for the photographer.  The ability to use Adobe Revel?  Big whoop.  The ability at some point in the future to maybe do culling on your iPad and have that sync to your Lightroom library?  That would be nice, but why would that be tied to Creative Cloud?  If they really wanted to make a clean workflow, there's no reason to force everything into Creative Cloud.

So Why Are They Doing This

In software and as a corporate software developer, you want to get a customer and keep the customer FOREVER.  You want to make it as difficult as possible for customers to use your tools and then leave you for another vendor.  Proprietary file formats, locked file structures, patented screens, patented workflow sequences are all tactics that every major software company has tried.  The plain and simple goal is what the software industry knows to be VENDOR LOCK-IN.  Their goal is to lock you up into their infrastructure so tightly that if you leave, you get to start over at ground zero.  It's not just Adobe.  Oracle and IBM and even Apple have been pulling this kind of scam for a long time.  The difference with Creative Cloud is that you only have ONE licensing option, that being subscription.  Subscription can work.  But only if it is priced correctly.  $20 per month on a minimum one year term for Photoshop may be ok, but I think that the price is high.  $50 per month on a one year minimum for the entire Creative Suite means that after 10 months, I would have paid the upgrade to an entire new version.  Will I get an entire new version in 10 months?  NFI.  And unlike the current licensing model, if I have no need to upgrade, and just want to use the software that I know and love, there's no option.  If I stop paying, the software stops working.  It's about as customer hostile as you can get.

So why would a smart company do this?  Cash money would be one reason.  The ability to lock a customer in for a long time is another.  Building a predictable annuity revenue stream is another.  Note that keeping customers happy is not in scope.

I've been watching the trade journals and at DP Review, Techcrunch, and numerous others, I have not found any kind of proportion of note that likes the plan.  Over 90% think it sucks.  Some do like it.  Some of them also believe that it's for our own good, whatever the f**k that means.  I don't agree.  I think that the Creative Cloud program is nothing but a complete and utter cash and marketspace grab.  So I choose not to play.  I would reconsider if the pricing were reasonable.  People would not pay $2 for a song online but at $0.99 it was a landslide for the record industry.  The movie industry still wants to charge more for a digital movie of lower quality than a physical movie of higher quality.  This is both stupid and exactly what I would expect of those troglodytes.  Adobe needs to fix it's recto-cranial inversion and if they are so frakking committed to Creative Cloud, price it so participation ceases to be a question.

What About Lightroom?

It's been said that Lightroom will not be part of the Creative Cloud. So far. If Lightroom 5 is available as a standalone purchaseable license, I will upgrade. If only available in the Creative Cloud, I'll be getting off. I won't be signing up for Creative Cloud. As a CS6 Master Collection licensee, I could spend years and still not get leverage of all the incredible capability in the software I already have. Moreover, there are LOTS of alternatives in the marketplace for the things that I need to do. Yes, Adobe products do many of them extremely well, but I'm not willing to live by Adobe's draconian model to use their newest offerings. Capture One, Aperture, hell even iPhoto could be ok. Nik (until Google kills it), OnOne, DxO, Tiffen all make great point editing solutions, often available at terrific pricing and NONE OF THEM STOP WORKING IF A SUBSCRIPTION EXPIRES.

You might love Creative Cloud.  If you do, good for you, save time and effort commenting on how wrong I am.  Instead go use your software until they change the terms and conditions without prior notice and feel an enormous pain in your rear end.