Photoshop CC Explosion

The Cloudy Future of Photoshop

Adobe recently announced that all of their Creative Suite software products, which includes luminaries like Photoshop, Illustrator and After Effects, will be moving to a subscription-only, download-only, butt-based business model. The good news is that you can get legitimate versions of all of these programs in a bundle for a paltry $50. The bad news is that your license expires after 30 days. You can no longer pay for an Adobe CS product once, and own it indefinitely. Going forward, they won’t even be called the Creative Suite any longer. Welcome to the Creative Butt, everyone, where it’s always butty with a chance for butts.

This is a gutsy move on Adobe’s part. It’s always seemed like their old business model, however flawed it may have been, was a key component to their success. Sure, there were gobs of people that used their products illegally, and legitimate customers would often choose not to upgrade until it was absolutely necessary. However, through it all, Photoshop has remained unchallenged. It’s Coca-Cola in a world without Pepsi.

It’s hard to convince me to subscribe to an expensive service. I’m one of only 17.8% of Americans that choose not to pay for cable television. Sign up for Hulu Plus? No thanks. If I’m going to watch network TV with commercials, I’d prefer not to pay for it. Cough up $80 a year for faster shipping with Amazon Prime? Nope. I’ll wait a few extra days for that thrilling box of diapers, thanks. My $7.99 Netflix streaming plan is the one rare extravagance I indulge in.

cc-overview-toolsIn the new Adobe reality, professional users will be relived of paying big bucks to upgrade to get the latest features, and newcomers will have a much more budget-friendly admission price to get access to the best tools. Those are two really positive aspects of the new business model. However, it’s the casual user of Photoshop that gets nudged out of the picture. When Uncle Bob wants to Photoshop the dog’s head onto Aunt Margret’s body for the Christmas Card, I don’t envisioning him dropping $50 to do so.

So here’s the big question: historically, how many casual Photoshop users eventually ended up becoming accomplished amateurs and pro customers? I can’t speak for everyone, but if Photoshop had been $50 a month all along, I doubt that I would have learned as much about the program as I have. Much of the glorious graphic design that you see on this site, such as my thumbnails, are the product of my ancient copy of Photoshop CS3.

If I paid $50 to use the Adobe Suite for a month, I would certainly feel pressured to make the most of it. That’s a positive, I suppose. You’ll feel compelled to use the stuff. You’d probably force yourself to take care of a bunch of projects that you would normally put on the back burner indefinitely. In other words, many, many dog heads would be placed on Aunt Margaret’s body—in short order.

Outside of Photoshop users, there’s a lot of drama unfolding around this business model shift. Obviously, the video people who recently switched to Adobe Premier following the icy reception of Apple’s Final Cut Pro X have the right to be upset. It’s a weird situation. Some people are really happy, and others are really upset. I’m neither. However, I can confidently tell you one thing: I am not going to pay $50 a month. Eventually I’m going to need a Photoshop replacement. Looks like, at long last, it’s time to bring out the GIMP.

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Writer, musician, photo taker and video maker. When not writing somewhat longish articles for this blog, I write incredibly short things on Twitter: @SamMallery

3 thoughts on “The Cloudy Future of Photoshop”

  1. I’m pretty much the same way. Only recurring subscription I have is Netflix streaming.

    I have the less ancient CS4 but I won’t be going to cloud anything. Folks are willing to pay more up front to “own” their tools. A professional probably has as much in plugins as the software, all of which goes down the drain after your subscription lapses. I’m an amature with PS, but I’m a professional on ProTools and I have gone through many a copy protection scheme. Anything that depends on an internet connection to activate is an automatic fail. EVERY plugin that I have ever owned that relied on some kind of internet activation has died at some point and that is just not an option for professional work that has deadlines.

    In theory the big advantage is you get constant updates. But a professional doesn’t want constant updates. You want stability, and that means you wait till the post beta testers (early adopters) have found the bugs that the beta testers missed and the company has fixed most of them before you push the button. And you want to be doing that between projects not when someone in marketing decides it’s good enough.

  2. You have great photographing skills. I wish I was as good as you in this field. I am serious you are really talented photographer and photo editor.

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