Adobe Creative Cloud Move Elevates Company, Stymies Users

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2013-05-07

Adobe Creative Cloud Move Elevates Company, Stymies Users

Adobe's announcement that it is shifting everything to its Creative Cloud subscription program is a move that excites the longtime design software maker, but it is not very welcome to some customers.

At Adobe MAX, The Creativity Conference, in Los Angeles on May 6, Adobe announced that the company will focus creative software development efforts on its Creative Cloud offering moving forward. While Adobe Creative Suite 6 products will continue to be supported and available for purchase, the company has no plans for future releases of Creative Suite or other CS products. Focusing development on Creative Cloud will not only accelerate the rate at which Adobe can innovate but also broaden the type of innovation the company can offer the creative community, the company said.

In short, at some point Adobe will no longer be providing new releases of its technology as packaged software; it will all be via subscription to Creative Cloud.

"We have not announced a time frame" for when the company will no longer provide packaged software, Heidi Voltmer, director of product marketing for Adobe Creative Cloud, told eWEEK.

"We launched Creative Cloud a year ago, and it has been a runaway success," said David Wadhwani, senior vice president and general manager of Digital Media at Adobe. "By focusing our energy—and our talented engineers—on Creative Cloud, we're able to put innovation in our members' hands at a much faster pace."

The move is a major switch for Adobe, which began selling subscriptions to its Creative Cloud for around $50 a month last year, while also making its software available to nonsubscribers to its Creative Cloud. And while it remains to be seen how this will impact Adobe's bottom line, initial reactions to the move have been mixed, but the negatives have been strong.

In reaction to a CNET article on Adobe's move, a commenter identified as "dlorenso" compared Adobe's actions to the gun lobby. "Nice move Adobe! That is a good trick!" the commenter wrote. "Do you realize how many round of ammo were sold when gun-toting Americans found out their gun rights might be taken away!? Well, Adobe is pulling the same trick. Look how many copies of CS6 they are gonna sell because graphics professionals and hobbyists think this is their last remaining version of Adobe products they may ever get! Adobe isn't trying to sell you their cloud, fools, they are selling you their CS6! ..."

Some commenters pointed out that the cost of the subscription might be prohibitive to some, yet others defended the pricing as being more efficient for their purposes. One clever commenter, identified as IslandStyle808, wrote a "Dear Jane" letter to Adobe:

"Dear Adobe, when we were younger you were cute and slim—we had fun together. As we've grown up, you have become sophisticated and robust.

"But while you still have a beautiful face, how shall I say this—your appetite has gotten the best of you. In 2005, you ate Macromedia. Now you're after my wallet. I understand that fancy girls are a little harder on the wallet but it's hard to be fancy when you're fat.

"I wish I could say at least you're beautiful on the inside, but really you're just greedy up in there. So before you try and eat me too, I am dumping you— you can go eat yourself!"

Responding to the feedback of moving to an all-subscription model, Adobe's Voltmer said: "I'm sure people have a lot of opinions on this. But we've had just as many customers who are excited about this because it means less investment for them up front. We've had feedback from both sides."

Adobe Creative Cloud Move Elevates Company, Stymies Users

"We've been blown away by how many people have adopted Creative Cloud," Voltmer added.

Indeed, Adobe said Creative Cloud's capabilities are making it a hit with the worldwide creative community: More than a half million paid members and well over 2 million free members have signed up for Creative Cloud since it was launched in April 2012.

Al Hilwa, an analyst at IDC, commenting from Adobe's MAX conference, praised Adobe's transformation to the cloud. "The launch of the iPhone was tough for Adobe. It saw its up-and-coming Flash technology, the anchor of much of its design product line a few years ago, get banned from the most important technology platform to come in decades," Hilwa said. "A recession hit Adobe's high-end creative software hard as the creative community in general took its lumps with reduced business and consumer spending. But, Adobe persevered, embraced the emerging Web platform aggressively and pivoted to the cloud in a deep transition unmatched by any other software vendor.

"What seems pretty clear is that Adobe has made a thorough transformation of its desktop software into a set of cloud services. Adobe's clients have definitely jumped on CC, perhaps even faster than Adobe's fastest projections. What also appears to be the case is that CC is attracting additional customers who previously may have been peripheral team collaborators or point users of Adobe products. What is ahead for Adobe is how it will tackle the enterprise with a specific value proposition."

At the show, Adobe also announced a significant update to Adobe Creative Cloud, the company's flagship offering for creative professionals. Available in June and loaded with new features, Creative Cloud redefines the creative process through a set of "CC" desktop applications and cross-device collaboration and publishing capabilities, Adobe said.

Creative files can be stored, synced and shared via Creative Cloud, on Mac OS, Windows, iOS and Android. In addition, Behance, a leading online creative community, is now integrated with Creative Cloud, so customers can showcase work, get feedback on projects and gain global exposure.

With Creative Cloud, publishing finished work is made easy with enhanced services that build and power Websites, mobile apps, tablet publications, online portfolios, and content for virtually any medium and device. More than 1.4 million creative professionals globally are part of the Behance network, according to Adobe. Adobe acquired Behance in December 2012.

By signing up for Creative Cloud, creative professionals will be set up to download and use these latest cloud-enabled innovations from Adobe, when they are available next month.

"Creative Cloud brings together everything you need to create your best work," Wadhwani said. "We're delivering incredible new versions of our desktop tools, services that take publishing content to the next level, and we're making it easier than ever for creatives to collaborate and share their work worldwide."

This update to Creative Cloud includes the next generation of Adobe desktop applications, including Adobe Photoshop CC, InDesign CC, Illustrator CC, Dreamweaver CC and Premiere Pro CC. Adobe's desktop tools, previously known as Creative Suite (CS), are now branded CC to reflect that they are an integral part of Creative Cloud and have been reinvented to support a more intuitive, connected way of creating, Voltmer said. Adobe Creative Cloud includes more than 30 tools and services that enable professional-grade content creation and delivery across print, Web, mobile apps, video and photography.

By signing up for Creative Cloud, users will be set up to immediately download and use the latest cloud-enabled innovations from Adobe, when they are available next month. Creative Cloud membership for individuals is $49.99 per month based on annual membership; existing customers who own CS3 to CS5.5 get their first year of Creative Cloud at the discounted rate of $29.99 per month. Students and teachers can get Creative Cloud for $29.99 per month.

Adobe Creative Cloud Move Elevates Company, Stymies Users

A team version of Creative Cloud includes everything individual members receive plus 100GB of storage and centralized deployment and administration capabilities. Creative Cloud for teams is priced at $69.99 per month per seat. Existing customers, who own a volume license of CS3 or later, get their first year of Creative Cloud for teams at the discounted rate of $39.99 per month per seat if they sign up before the end of August 2013.

Adobe also announced Creative Cloud for the enterprise and special licensing programs for educational institutions and governments. For more details, go here. Adobe also has an FAQ about its latest moves here.

Adobe also announced a new version of Photoshop, Photoshop CC, at MAX.

"With the ability to quickly deliver new innovations, we're empowering photographers and creatives to push the boundaries in digital imaging and design," Winston Hendrickson, vice president of products for Creative Media Solutions at Adobe, said in a statement. "Our customers will no longer have to wait 18 to 24 months to access new Photoshop innovation. When a new Photoshop feature is ready—whether it's the next Healing Brush or something as mind-blowing as Content Aware Fill—we'll deliver it via Creative Cloud."

Photoshop CC will ship with new sharpening technologies and designer workflow enhancements. Camera Shake Reduction deblurs images that would have otherwise been lost due to camera movement. Smart Sharpen makes texture and detail pop, and Adobe Camera Raw 8 adds even more powerful photographic controls to straighten and perfect images.

Photoshop CC is the first Adobe desktop application to include the ability to post files directly to Behance from within the application, showcasing work immediately and integrating peer feedback into the creative process, Voltmer said.

For designers, the Touch Type tool in Illustrator CC offers a new level of creativity with type. This feature works with a mouse, stylus or multitouch device. Illustrator also enables painting with a brush made from a photo. A new, modern architecture for InDesign CC turbocharges performance, and in-browser editing in Adobe Muse CC—a tool for designers to create and publish HTML Websites without writing code—allows clients to make edits to a published Website, which can then be reviewed, approved and updated by the designer, Adobe said.

For video customers, Adobe Premiere Pro CC includes new editing features, customizations and improvements to help editors work more efficiently. Premiere Pro CC integrates color workflows, with the addition of the Lumetri Deep Color Engine to easily apply rich color grading looks. A high-impact version of Adobe After Effects CC brings motion graphics and visual effects artists more creative possibilities and allows them to work more easily in 3D with the new Live 3D Pipeline with Maxon Cinema4D integration, according to the company. There are also all-new versions of Adobe SpeedGrade CC, Audition CC, Prelude CC and Adobe Story CC Plus.

Web designers and developers can also look forward to advances in Adobe's family of Edge tools and services. The latest Edge Animate CC lets Web designers create animated and interactive content with ease and precision, using native HTML, CSS and JavaScript, according to Adobe.

Adobe is also previewing a new workflow from Photoshop CC to Edge Reflow CC that will enable users to build Web designs in Photoshop that can easily be turned into responsive Websites. Dreamweaver users can look forward to the most up-to-date CSS and properties via the intuitive visual editing tool, CSS Designer. And Adobe Flash Pro CC features a modern, modular 64-bit architecture rebuilt from the ground up to be fast and reliable, Adobe said.

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