Adobe has announced that Creative Suite 6, the most recent collection of its various pieces of creative software that includes popular packages such as Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Premiere Pro, will be the last packaged products it releases. In their place is Creative Cloud, which uses the software-as-a-service model, where consumers subscribe to rather than buy the software.
Of course, Adobe is talking up the shift by pointing to the possibilities for collaboration and the advantages of remote access to software and content. There’s also the argument that US$50/month for access to as much or as little of the suite as you want is preferable to hundreds of dollars for individual applications or thousands for the entire suite.
Adobe is by no means the first software company to take this approach to its products: Microsoft is also betting big on software as a service, trying to encourage users of its ubiquitous office suite to migrate to the new, cloud-based Office 365, for which they pay a subscription fee.
There are sound reasons the model is attractive. For software vendors, it means recurring and therefore more stable income as opposed to having to convince users to fork out for upgrades every few years. It also makes it easier to keep work synchronised across devices and, as broadband gets better and more widespread, it allows users to access software — or the content created using it — from almost anywhere.
Possibly the most attractive part of it for software firms is the ability to curb piracy, though it remains to be seen how effective a deterrent it will be. In the case of Creative Cloud, users don’t have to be connected to Adobe’s servers. That sounds like a workaround in the making for the hackers who have freely circumvented the anti-piracy measures in early versions of the software.
Because Adobe has said it will continue to support the Creative Suite, it could also simply keep those using pirated copies of the software from getting the latest features.
As music streaming services continue to demonstrate, the only way legitimate subscription products work online is by ensuring they’re more convenient and less labour intensive than piracy. Human beings, it turns out, are quite a lazy lot. Aggressive anti-piracy measures can hurt the buyers of software more than those who pirate it.
The only obstacles Adobe’s mentioned for those moving to Creative Cloud are the need to be online when installing or licensing the software. If users opt for an annual membership, they’ll be prompted to connect every 30 days to validate their licence, which they can ignore for up to 180 days before their software will stop working.
Even if the move to the cloud is met with resistance, Adobe will no doubt triumph thanks to its loyal following and the fact that its collaboration tools will be of enormous value to creative teams. For creative users, it’s effectively the only game in town. That means a captive audience.
And perhaps it’ll even convince some of those who’ve not been coughing up for Creative Suite that the hassle over not taking out a $50 subscription is not worth it. — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media