Great graphics, great rip-off… The Adobe Creative Cludge.
For about 15 years I’ve used Photoshop professionally and personally. I have championed its use and taught hundreds of students to use it. The latest version of Photoshop is to be delivered through the “Creative Cloud”. Adobe says this online delivery system will enable regular updates, online storage and faster access.
The truth is…
To use the new Photoshop Creative Cloud (Ps.CC) you will pay £17.58 on a monthly contract in the UK. It is up to a third cheaper in the USA, three times more expensive in Australia. Currently Photoshop CS6 costs around £600 UK. I have to spread that cost across the life of a computer – say, four years. At £150 per year it’s expensive but bearable for a daily user. If I buy the new ‘deal’ under creative cloud I expect to pay £843.84 over four years.
Why should I take this expensive leap? Adobe say it is so I can get updates more regularly. Actually, I would get them next time anyway. In fact most Photoshop improvements in recent years have only added a marginal improvement – despite the hype. For my everyday work the improvement has always been limited. In more than fifteen years of Photoshop use, no improvement has had an impact on my business that justified a permanent 25% monthly increase in costs!
For me a big issue is cash flow. I make a strategic decision to make a purchase for my business. I do not want to be forced to pay higher prices every month. I can use my money more usefully. I am sure that most home-owners, amateurs, small businesses and teachers will be looking to their monthly bank statements and finding better things to be paying out on.
Adobe are also offering a 20Gb block of storage – pretty pathetic given today’s storage capacities. Not enough for all storage, too much for a few current images-in-progress. I would not trust Adobe to hold my full image library anyway. One accounting error and I would lose the lot as the contract foreclosed! They are also offering something referred to on the website as ‘limited access to services’. There is no clarity on what that means!
Connectivity is another questionable issue. For a substantial period of time each year I work in a place that does not have Internet access. I can get a low grade public connection if I drive five miles. To test out the new photoshop I would have to give up my perfectly good installation to test the connections I would use. If it fails I will be without software for my work. This is without doubt unacceptable. It is also questionable as to whether the average home connection will stand up to the demands of a high-grade graphics application. Let me know what happens if you try it!
So what happens to the little guy
Adobe Lightroom is being kept out of the Creative Cloud concept. They obviously recognise photographers will be seriously affected by the creative cloud. It’s strange they do not recognise that photographers have the same need for Photoshop. I work with a lot of keen amateurs and small-business professionals who use Photoshop. The Creative Cloud business model is going to put a lot of my friends and students off buying the application. It is just one step too far for most individuals and one man businesses. The extra cost, loss of flexibility, poor connectivity, and not being able to use it on my laptop means I will be unable to go with the Creative Cloud concept.
There is also to be an educational version of Ps.CC. Several schools I know are saying they will not be investing. It is a big cost increase for already stretched education budgets. Teachers pay is diminishing against inflation too. I cannot see my colleagues investing in great numbers – especially if they do not need it for work.
Focus on corporates
Adobe is making assumptions about their non-corporate users. Assumptions I don’t think will hold up for individual users and small businesses. They undoubtedly feel that they increase profits from the Creative Cloud. I am equally certain most corporate users will not have a problem. Adobe have focussed attention on the corporate market.
Corporate focus will leave most of us out in the cold. That will eventually damage the Adobe business. There will be a ripple effect from non-corporate users dropping out of the Photoshop experience pool. Teachers, students, club members, small businesses and keen amateurs will all find alternatives. This means less skill to draw on in the corporate field and less reason for spontaneous online support through blogs and support sites.
What are the alternatives?
Adobe seem to think they have the only route to creative photographic processing. Actually, for basic editing there are some great applications out there. One application I use, GIMP, is free. Paintshop Pro is a pretty good application and it handles the Adobe .psd files. So no conversion problems. For more advanced work there are lots of specialist applications too. Photoshop is already very weak on HDR processing and there are lots of quality applications around that do a much better job. The same is true for other advanced processing. I can see a future where competitor applications will be quickly rising to meet the Adobe cast-off users.
One thing is certain. We are going to see a change in the way many photographers do graphic processing in the future. I believe it will not be the future that Adobe are predicting. In fact, if other processing graphics systems raise to the occasion photographers could ultimately be better off.
There is an online petition to Adobe about this new business model. A large response may impact on their decision-making. Please sign it now.
Online petition to Adobe regarding the Creative Cloud subscription model.