Photoshop Creative Cloud – The road ahead

CC-image

Adobe announced a new version of Photoshop with some cool new features and all anyone can talk about is the end of “boxed” software and the move to a subscription based model. The general consensus on this is that it sucks for hobbyists and those that didn’t upgrade to a new version every time in the past. That financially the monthly payment seemed to be a money grab from Adobe. I started to think about what a subscription model really means and why Adobe did it. (Other than trying to just get more money)

Let me be really clear here:

  • I do not work for Adobe.
  • I do not get my Adobe software for free.
  • I have no information from any sources other than what I read on public news outlets.
  • This is all speculation on my part.

The Adobe CC programs, that is the newly branded Creative Cloud versions like Photoshop CC and Illustrator CC will no longer get new versions updates. There will not be a Photoshop CC2 or Photoshop CC3, instead they will get small updates constantly. This means that when the engineers at Adobe come up with a slightly better blur tool, it just gets added. The want to tweak the brush engine, they just do it. Want to add a new tool to deal with the retina display on a device- done. It also means that you get new functionality all the time. Think about it for a minute, they no longer have to try to make a “new version” every year with enough updates in it to make people go out and by the new software. They can just keep adding to the application whenever they want. In theory this is AWESOME. You no longer have to wait until enough cool things are ready for an upgrade, they will just be pushed out to the software constantly. This allows Adobe to be on the cutting edge at all times.

This explains why there will be no standalone version. If you never really update the version, it is impossible to decide what copy should be selling in the stores and what upgrades are included and what need to be paid for. It’s a brilliant idea and can really benefit those using the software. No more waiting a year or 18 months for the next “big improvement” they are just there when ready. And think of it from a teacher’s point of view. There will only be two versions of Photoshop going forward. Those who opt out of the cloud and have Photoshop CS6 and those in the cloud with Photoshop CC. You can just say before each seminar or training video that this either works with CS6 or not.

To make this really work, Adobe needs to push out more than just a handful of small improvements every 6 – 8 months. There needs to be a constant stream of improvements to the software. These updates need to keep the users happy with their rental agreement forever. That time schedule could see an increase in bugs and other software issues. One of the reasons it takes 12 – 18 months to release a new version is the extensive beta testing on a wide variety of platforms to make sure the program actually works. That testing schedule will also have to be increased. But lets say that Adobe gets all that fixed and the CC applications start to get updates all the time and new features are rolled out on a regular basis, I still have the following concerns.

  • The need for new hardware. At some point this laptop will be outdated and underpowered. Right now it runs just fine, even though it is 2 years old. At some point, Photoshop and Lightroom will no longer run on this machine in the same way as they stopped running on my old MacPro desktop that used the pre Intel chipset. Wasn’t a problem back then, I just didn’t upgrade to the new version until I had scraped together enough money to upgrade my system.
  • No way to own a version. With the creative cloud, there is no way to opt out and just buy the software. Unless Adobe is going to come up with a way to allow people to leave and either keep or pay for the current version of Photoshop that they are using. This means that if you use the cloud for a couple of years (lets say 8 years) and then you retire. No longer earning money with photography, no longer running a business, and you want to just buy the software so that you can still edit images in the way you have for years, but this time it’s just of the grandkids or of your vacations. You will either have to keep paying or hope that Adobe still sells Photoshop CS6.
  • Future pricing. There has a lot been said about if the pricing structure by Adobe is fair or not fair or if it’s worth it or not. My concern is that they can raise the price at any point. (Well, at any year point) So you start off at $29.99 for the first year (have to commit to a year for that price) then you go to $49.99 for the second year (have to commit to a year plan to get that price) then when you are about to sign up for the third year, Adobe tells you the price is going up to $54.99. OK, it’s only $5 a month. Lets say that they raise the price $5 a year. 8 years from now, you will be paying $ 79.99 a month for the Creative cloud. Thats $948.00 a year. Im not saying they are going to raise the price $5 a year, I’m just saying that they could. And going back to my previous point, if you want out at that time……
  • What about Lightroom. I use Lightroom a lot. I know it is part of the Creative Cloud but is still available as a separate program. From what i have read, Lightroom is going to be updated differently going forward in the same way as Photoshop was updated differently since the inception of the Creative Cloud and the release of Photoshop CS6.
  • Publishing. As an author, I see a nightmare looming. Without clear updates and versions, knowing which book is up to date with your software will become way more difficult. Right now I have a bunch of books on my shelves on using Photoshop. Each one is easily identified by the version of Photoshop it is meant for, but if i am right and the Photoshop CC doesn’t get version updates then how are publishers going to name the books so that the target audience actually gets the right information?

Now, if I am wrong, and Adobe still plans on the traditional updates so in 1-2 years we see Photoshop CC2 and the then ¬†Photoshop CC3, I see no reason why those can’t be for sale as standalone software for those that don’t want to rent. The issue that I ¬†(and a lot of people) have right now is that we don’t know what Adobe is going to do… and that fear and uncertainty is really unpleasant.

What are your thoughts…

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