Why Adobe’s move to subscription-only services makes sense

Macworld reports on the announcement by Adobe that they’re moving to a subscription-only service and that purchasing Adobe licenses as we know it will come to an end:

In a move that should surprise no one, Adobe announced sweeping changes to its Creative Suite software line and year-old Creative Cloud subscription service. Signaling a new focus on integrating creative services in the cloud with its professional desktop software, Adobe launched a new cloud-based Creative Suite—with a new CC moniker, for Creative Cloud. But it will look familiar. Significant upgrades to all current Creative Suite 6 apps are coming soon, but they will be available only by subscription to Creative Cloud, not traditional software licenses.

Adobe Creative Suite as we know it will exist no more. There’ll be no CS7, instead apps are now subscription based. Creative Cloud will cost $50 per month or individual apps will be $20 per month. Compare this to the previous cost of over $3000 for Creative Suite 6 Master Collection.

Say what you will about subscription services, this radical new pricing structure fixes one of the biggest criticisms of Adobe software: it’s damn expensive. You’d need to subscribe to Creative Cloud (or any singular app) for a couple of years before you reach the cost of what Creative Suite sold for.

But with that subscription you’re guaranteed the latest version. In fact, there’ll be no “new” versions of any Adobe software package ever again. They’re free from any particular product cycle and, instead, can add new features as and when they’re ready for release.

I can see this as being good news for design studios and creative professionals overall. I have to deal with design houses on a daily basis running all sorts of versions of Adobe software, some are running CS2 all the way through to CS6. Why? Because Creative Suite was such an expense, they could not justify paying for newer versions. Normally I’d be the first to tell someone to do paid upgrades only if they need to but with each major release of OS X, something breaks in an earlier version of Creative Suite.

What’s more, subscriptions have no minimum term and you can cancel and renew whenever you want so you’ll be able to pay only for the users that need it. If a designer who works mostly in Photoshop needs to use Illustrator just in the short-term, they can. Once their project is finished, just cancel the subscription.

The most common reason I see studios or creative types having to upgrade their Adobe software is because they’ve upgraded their Mac. Whenever this happens, they discover that their current version of Creative Suite isn’t compatible as it needs Rosetta or is too crash happy to work.