Enough Whining About Creative Cloud Licensing

I’m surprised by how much backlash Adobe has received, and continues to receive, since converting from a one-time purchase system to a subscription model for Photoshop, Lightroom and many other powerful programs. I was just reading a discussion at the Adobe blog, linked below, about what happens to Lightroom itself after a membership plan ends. It got me thinking—probably because so many people, here and elsewhere, are so vocal in their dismay over what they perceive to be an awful move by Adobe—that they’re really missing the point. First, many photographers depend on the ability to license image files in order to make a living. We should be used to the licensing-based-on-usage approach. The fact that Adobe has managed to take a huge chunk out of the market for infringers is huge. I applaud them, frankly. But that’s still not the point. Simple math shows that the new licensing model is a much better deal for almost everyone. Back when Photoshop CS6 came out it retailed for more than $600. (If you were a student or teacher, your version cost half of that.) The high startup cost served as a massive barrier to entry, one that I think encouraged a lot of folks to decide that it was better to pirate than to pay. (I’m not excusing it, I’m just explaining it.) So now with the Creative Cloud, Adobe offers a "photography only" package that includes Photoshop CC and Lightroom—software that retails on its own for $75—and the combo is just $10 a month. That’s $120 a year for a subscription, meaning it takes five years (!) before you finally equal the one-time cost for CS6. Staying current during those five years would mean upgrades that raise the price further, but even without upgrades the Creative Cloud pricing is a much better deal financially for everyone but the "buy one copy and keep it for a decade" crowd. Add to that the fact that the startup cost for a photographer is now just $10 to get into a full version of Photoshop and it’s unbelievable deal. But wait, there’s more. Not only does the new approach make Photoshop more affordable, but when you factor in that your software will always be up to date, and that you can access a variety of different pieces of software under the same Creative Cloud license ($50/month for everything for laymen, just $20/month for everything for students and teachers) it becomes an unprecedented deal in terms of easy access to world class software. As a Creative Cloud user, on a whim you can now download class leading programs like Premiere for video editing, Audition for audio editing and Dreamweaver for web development. For the life of me I can’t imagine how a photographer who previously purchased Photoshop every couple of generations could find a way to complain about the Creative Cloud as it exists today. We’re getting so much more for a lot less. And just to be clear, though this may sound like a commercial it’s just my unsolicited opinion. I’m just a photographer who believes Adobe has made this great software even better, and more accessible, than ever. Complaining about it just doesn’t make sense.


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