There are dark clouds on the horizon—Adobe’s Creative Cloud, to be specific. Many seem shocked at the news, but I saw it coming. Given Adobe’s behavior in recent years, it was a forgone conclusion that they would eventually move to a subscription-only model. I’ve been dreading it. They just dropped the bomb.
Shantanu Narayen can try to legitimize the move all he wants, but he will have a hard time convincing me that this is about anything other than Adobe making more money. Sure, I understand that if you buy the entire Creative Suite (CS) and upgrade it every year, the Creative Cloud (CC) subscription would be significantly cheaper. I don’t. I work for a company that is mostly made up of software engineers. As I understand it, their software cost per head is significantly less than mine. It has been a challenge at times to get my software upgraded. Given that the upgrades to Adobe’s products over the past several years have only provided minor improvements to the features that I use regularly, I don’t mind skipping versions. I generally upgrade every other major version. I use their Design Standard suite, made up of Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Acrobat Pro, and a few odds and ends. This has been my core set of tools since Adobe acquired Macromedia and did away with Freehand. I wouldn’t be able to justify $50 per month for my personal use.
However, their education pricing may be my saving grace. If I sign up by June 25th, I’ll get it for $20 per month—$240 for the year. That’s not a bad deal at all. I assume it will then go up to $360 for a year.
My biggest concern, of course, is what my company will do. We just upgraded to CS6, and we had to pay full price for it, due to Adobe’s change to their upgrade policies. Then there is the Mac Mini that I use on my company’s secure network. It never touches the internet. Narayen claims that CC will work on disconnected machines. I’m expecting to have to jump through hoops to get it to do so.
Causing even more of a kerfuffle in Interaction Design circles is their decision to kill off Fireworks. I never used it, as I was so proficient with the tools I had, switching never seemed worthwhile. I know, though, that many IxDers swear by it. I’m given to understand that it was a near-perfect tool for mocking up screens in multiple states, due to the timeline that was actually included for creation of web animations. If you are a Fireworks devotee, you have my deepest sympathies. I know what it’s like to have your favorite tool executed by Adobe.
The thing is, Adobe has a monopoly on design software. When they acquired Macromedia, they took out their only true rival. Yes, Corel is hanging in there, but they were never a serious threat. I never got the hang of QuarkXPress, and I rarely hear anyone mention it anymore. Newer startups like Acorn have a greater chance of winning over we jaded Adobe disciples.
Given the years of experience with the tools, not to mention the vast archive of files created with them, how am I to switch to other software without seriously impacting my productivity? If Adobe says jump, what choice do I have but to ask how high? But I already know the answer: to the clouds.