I was going to wait and post this on Monday, but decided the sooner this post goes live, the better.  Please share this post, re-tweet it, add to Facebook, and in whatever circles you actively participate in.  Adobe is about to do something very bad, that will benefit no one but themselves, and hurt the enthusiast/hobbyist in the long run. Seriously, this is very bad.


Be forewarned and be smart – Adobe has announced a change in their pricing model which will have serious implications for the enthusiast/hobbyist photographers!  I picked this up from the NAPP community, which took me eventually to this link on the Adobe site:

“For customers who prefer to remain on the current licensing model, we will continue to offer our individual point products and Adobe Creative Suite editions as perpetual licenses. With regards to upgrades, we are changing our policy for perpetual license customers. In order to qualify for upgrade pricing when CS6 releases, customers will need to be on the latest version of our software (either CS5 or CS5.5 editions). If our customers are not yet on those versions, we’re offering a 20% discount through December 31, 2011 which will qualify them for upgrade pricing when we release CS6.”

In other words – if you don’t want to rent it, they are forcing you to now upgrade every single time a new full release comes out!  I have to go on record here as saying that while this certainly makes good business sense for them – this is going to be a very expensive change for the enthusiast and hobbyist photographers out there.  The dialog on the NAPP forums has been quite passionate already, and I am sure the larger photography community will react similarly.  ETA: The comments have (not surprisingly) been closed but there are other outlets available – see below…

Before it’s too late, be sure to share your thoughts with Adobe on this policy change that will have a serious impact on many of us!  Think of it – paying $50 a month over a 12 month period is paying roughly $600 – for something you won’t own in the end!  Think of the new pricing model as the equivalent of leasing a car, renting an apartment, or any other situation where you end up with nothing but money out of pocket and nothing to show for it in the end.  These models always benefit the company and never really benefiting the purchaser (or should I say renter?)!

It’s not often I get on a soap box and encourage people to take an active stance against something, but this is just a bad move on the part of Adobe.  There are a couple ways you can reach out to Adobe and let them know your thoughts.  One NAPP member has started a thread in the Adobe community forums (and from what I gather, they do listen there…), and when one of the senior VP’s at Adobe (Bryan O’Neal Hughes) wrote a guest post on Scott Kelby’s blog, he shared his email address: bhughes@adobe.com.  I would encourage you all to use both methods to communicate with Adobe how much you oppose this policy change.  Other outlets that will get attention include:

John Nack: http://blogs.adobe.com/jnack/  and his email is jnack@adobe.com
Lightroom Journal: http://blogs.adobe.com/lightroomjournal/
Terry White: http://terrywhite.com/techblog/and his email is twhite@adobe.com
Julianne Kost: http://jkost.com/and her email is jkost@adobe.com

While I grant you that Adobe has built some amazing software, and is definitely the standard by which all others are measured, there are alternatives out there that are cheaper (Elements sells for $90), or even free (have you heard of GIMP?).  In my humble opinion, there are many much more feasible options going forward if Adobe insists on what I would call nothing more than price gouging in the absence of healthy competition.  Sound off now or you may lose the ability to even get them to listen ever again!  If you want to write, but don’t know what to say, get a text document here to copy/paste into your email program.

For those that wish to just post their thoughts here – I will be compiling an email to Adobe and send it off to Bryan and the rest at the end of the month to let them know just how vocal the photography community is and why this policy is a bad idea, so if nothing else, at least share your thoughts and concerns here – you will have a voice to the extent that I am able!


Keep in mind, I am not being critical of their product line at all – I love my Adobe products!  Lightroom and CS5 have made my work flow so streamlined and efficient where I would otherwise be flailing in the breeze.  It also bears mentioning that Adobe has sponsored giveaways in the past (although after this post I am not sure that will happen again).  I also understand that Adobe has to make money and that they spend a lot of time on R&D and they should be compensated for that.  But there are better ways to do business than this….

32 thoughts on “Forget the Small-Timer: Adobe Versus the Little Guy

  1. John Wheeler says:

    Well I know for sure of one spectacular feature that will make it worth it to upgrade to CS6……………….. the ability to upgrade to CS7 at a lower cost than full price which is what you will pay if you stick with CS5 and then upgrade to CS7 :). Sorry, just practicing for a marketing job at Adobe 😀

    Adobe certainly is making a strategic move with this pricing change. They are doing their best to pave a smoother path for those of previous revisions to upgrade to CS5 at a discounted price now. Whether this is overall a good strategic move for Adobe only time will tell. What I do know is based on this forum and discussions on about 5 other forums and personal contacts, (and what Adobe may not have intended) “is” that Adobe’s move has triggered many small businesses to do some strategic rethinking on their Adobe investments. Alternative software may not be good enough for many of Adobe’s customers. These customers are not just looking at alternatives. They are also looking at scaling back on the number of “seats” (licenses purchased) and purchasing fewer suites and just getting individual products where needed. Actually, for cost efficiency, these measures probably should have been done anyways. Adobe’s move just brought it to a head. Adobe’s new strategy may also create a vacuum for some customers that don’t come along for the ride. Nature (and business) abhors a vacuum. If the vacuum is large enough it will motivate ways to fill the hole. We shall see.

  2. I’ve been less and less happy with Adobe products for many years. I wouldn’t be on CS5 if they hadn’t told me I could cross-grade CS4 to my new Mac then told me since it wasn’t the current version they wouldn’t do it. Of course the second story was after I had spent $3000 on a new laptop.

    There were no compelling updates for me (graphic designer) in CS5. I purchased Pixelmator and have been very happy using it. I don’t plan on purchasing any CS bundle again.

  3. Since there was no major outcry when Adobe said that only 3 versions back could upgrade you would think that if they wanted to do this to go 2 versions back for CS6. Then they could offer a graduated sliding scale something like this.

    Upgrade 2 versions back. Upgrade price $189.
    CS3 and CS2 Upgrade at $249.00
    Older Versions Upgrade at $329.00

    Every Quarter or so offer older versions a 20% discount if purchased directly from Adobe.com

  4. Few more bits of information:

    * The new subscriptions will be cross-platform – so all those users who have a Windows desktop and Mac laptop or vice versa, rejoice! Perpetual licenses appear to be staying single-platform.

    * Lightroom is included in the Creative Cloud, as well as Photoshop

    * There’s a lot more pricing yet to be announced. That means that there may yet be smaller subscription packages too – with less programs at a cheaper price, far better suited to photographers. We’ve only seen the basic announcement so far, and if there are smaller packages, they may turn out to be a brilliant deal that makes the upgrade policy a moot point.

  5. Jason and everyone else who is interested.

    Scott Kelby’s The Grid will be on today Nov. 16 @ 4:00 maybe we can bombard him with comments about Adobe’s new tactic and tell him how we truly free!

  6. There’s a lot we don’t yet know about the Creative Cloud. But, for the sake of argument let take a look at some numbers.

    Let’s assume that Adobe stays on an 18 month version cycle (which it has pretty much done in the past). Here are four scenarios we can look at:

    1. pay your $50 a month and get all the updates as a matter of course

    2. If you are new to the game, pay your $2,600 for the Master Collection and $600 subsequent upgrades

    3. If you are already current stay with stand-alone and pay your $600 upgrades

    4. and finally, if you are not current upgrade to 5.5 and then to 6 for $1,000 then pay your $600 upgrades

    Now if we look at this over three 18 month version cycles (or 54 months) Here is how each of these users will fair dollar-wise

    1. a total of $2,700 over the 54 months. in today’s dollars (NPV @ 2%) it’s $1,641.91

    2. a total of $4,400 ($3,455.19 in today’s dollars)

    3. a total of $2,400 ($1,494.40 in today’s dollars)

    4. a total of $2,800 ($1,886.56 in today’s dollars)

    Granted, changing the discount rates does impact this analysis but not by much. Looking at these costs it would appear that Adobe benefits with a steady income stream and the user benefits by getting always current software at a lower cost than the current pricing structure in all but one scenario. Even in that case we’re talking less than a $200 difference. As the old TV ad said…”where’s the beef?”

    I really think this will turn out to be a tempest in a teapot. Check your current EULA and you’ll discover that you don’t OWN the software in the firstplace.

    All that being said, we need to get more information from Adobe (who hasn’t handled this well at all up to this point) before we can really talk about how all this impacts the user who only has one or two point products and doesn’t need or want the entire Master Collection.

    Let’s keep the conversation going! Jason should have quite a bit to send to Adobe before this thread is done! 😉

  7. Hi

    Not only are they forcing half-arsed upgrades on us due to the Creative Suite behemoth we are now going to have to buy every one. Fantastic

    Piracy is going to shoot up and Adobe will be worse off in the long run (hopefully).

  8. So basically Adobe is saying, “We can’t come up with improvements that are compelling enough to drive up sales, so we’re going to force you to upgrade by changing our pricing model…” Seriously, Photoshop is already the most expensive piece of software I own, and now they want more money?

  9. I know I will probably catch crap for this comment but that’s alright. – Why do people feel so entitled just because they own a product? I don’t recall ever seeing anything in any small print on any Adobe product that promised never to raise prices, change licensing agreements, or offer longterm support of any of their products.

    Yes, it’s disappointing when they restructure prices or try something new that is more expensive to the consumer but they are not a social service. They are a business that supports thousands of employees and stockholders. They have a right to try and maximize their profits just as you have a right to vote with your pocketbook.

    1. No crap throwing is permitted on the blog Jeff – you are always welcome to share your thoughts (as is anyone). The only thing that I will ever delete or filter out is spammy stuff, flat out hateful remarks, or other stuff like that.

      As to the crux of your point – yes, of course Adobe has the right to change policies if they wish to help their bottom line. But by the same token, if they do that, the end result is that many people will likely stop upgrading, and/or move to another product. (Sort of like voting with your feet.)

      For me, it may not be as much of an issue to upgrade every version as I am already on CS5, but there is a substantial user base out there that will ultimately no longer have the option. Other options exist sure, but when you are used to one program (Photoshop), having to switch to something else whether it’s Elements, GIMP, or Corel, that can be dogmatic.

      If there’s a shot at getting Adobe to reconsider – why not at least try by showing them how much we dislike the new policy. Ultimately, Adobe can do whatever they want, but so can the consumer.

      Like someone else said in another discussion forum, Photoshop is much like SAS was with GIMP and R being the alternative. I don’t want Photoshop to become another SAS….

    2. Adobe is pretty much the industry standard for image editing. A monopoly so to speak.

      They even dumped money into the WINE project to help PS run on Linux based machines that some Hollywood studios were using for CGI/SFX rendering.

      Until now, Adobe’s attempt at anti-piracy measures was half-assed and mostly useless because those who pirated were mainly students and independent design houses. The indies usually got turned in by disgruntled employees and ended up buying legit copies. The students got jobs and legit licenses were bought.

      Until about 2008 or 2009, the hobbyist wasn’t worth the effort to actively lock out and alienate the paying commercial user base.

      Now we have cloud services and pretty reliable broadband. Always dialing the mothership or using remote processors is a nearly unbreakable by any of the “release groups”.

      I say nearly because I have some software that used to dial home. The programmer got a “real job” with a software house, had to quite supporting his work – conflict of interest. The business made a crappy version of his stuff. It never improved. Cheap way to kill the competition. I now use a “fixed” version that doesn’t dial home anymore.

  10. The new pricing policy may be fine for the professional. For the hobbyist, using only PhotoShop and/or Lightroom it is very costly.

    I have done every upgrade since CS2. I had decided to skip upgrade to next version because of finances. That choice is being taken from me if I ever want to upgrade in the future. There are a lot of people in my position and many have already decided that they are sticking with CS5 or older versions because of new policy. I think the majority of owners are hobbyist and do not own or use entire suites.

    Instead of risking losing loyal customers I don’t understand why Adobe doesn’t try to attract new customers. Maybe something really radical like a tv ad, especially with the holidays coming.

    As for pirates, I have reported to Adobe sites that I’ve seen advertising pirated free downloads of Adobe products. I never even received a thank you. How much do they expect us honest user to be able to pay because of thieves? I know a lot of PhotoShop user are retired and on fixed incomes. This is how they thank loyal, honest customers?

  11. Yeah, Michael’s got a good point about all the illegal copies in use. I’m wondering if this is Adobe’s first move toward a subscription-only model. That would certainly cut down on the invalid userbase, I expect, and with a monthly payment model, a number of those users would possibly decide it’s worth paying for month by month…

  12. The main impact will be on Adobe’s biggest installed user base – “pirates”. Numbers range from 60 to 80% of users. The downside will be loss in book sales and bug reports.

    The upside – this may send more programmers and some money into the GIMP project.

    Look at the numbers for Matt K’s latest book. How many of those actually own a legit copy of PS?

  13. Hi Jason!

    That is the current subscription model. The Creative Cloud solution recently announced will be $49.99 per month or just under $600 per year. If the subscription prices were remaining at current levels then you would be correct and this would be a far less attractive deal.

    1. Even at $600/year, that’s $1200 over the course of two years (24 months, which is their new model of versioning releases).

      Taking a look at the upgrade price for the Master Suite, it’s $549 for the upgrade on the standalone version. How is $1200 better than $549? (For Adobe, yes, it’s good, but for the buyer, that’s inherently a bad thing – your TCO almost doubles…)

  14. A lot of reactions over this. Let’s step back and clear a few things up. First, there will still be a stand-alone version that is not dependent upon Internet availability. Second, even with the cloud version the software will be installed locally and only need to access the Internet every 30 days or so to verify your continued participation in the cloud plan.

    I agree that the change in upgrade policy will be a burden to many. However, many don’t upgrade for every release which leaves Adobe supporting multiple versions out in the wild. I can’t agree with the support complaints since I’ve not experienced any support problems since I started back at PS 4.

    At $600 per year the cloud option is far cheaper than buying or upgrading to the Master Collection. It would take over four years of cloud service before you spent the cost of purchase. During that time every upgrade would automatically be included at no additional cost.

    Now there’s still a great many details we don’t know about smaller suites or single point products so I am reserving judgment until all the facts are in. Just my two cents. 😉

  15. Adobe Fan says:

    Holly kaw…what the heck are they(Adobe) thinking..?

  16. After having to accept 3rd world support bu having to deal with india or the phillipeens, this renting seems to be the beginning of the end! Inwill just stick with cs5 unless cs6 will be mine to own, not to rent! Adobe is was off line here and very disappointing, why make great software and yet not let people own it?

  17. I think I’ve made my opinions pretty clear on twitter, my site and on Google plus. They pretty much align with yours, I guess we should have seen this coming when Adobe blamed layoffs on the bad sales of CS5.

    As anyone that knows me is well aware, I’ve made my career using Adobe products and technologies. This, along with other announcements has pushed me into a corner where I have no choice but to start seriously looking elsewhere for better options.

    That is also what I will be recommending to my customers who I initially defended Adobe’s actions last week to. But now, I’m left nothing but embarrassed with no way to convince them why they should believe Adobe going forward, at least right now until Adobe knee jerk reacts again to the bottom line.

    1. Where’s your blog post? I’ll add it to the footer under an “additional commentaries” section! 🙂

  18. Craig Reavis says:

    A.J. Thanks for your reply but everyone must understand one other thing. If you were to subscribe to the rental model, you would be required to access CS6 only over the internet. There is no stand alone option available. Now if your provider goes down (and who hasn’t had that happen to them?) then you would not be able to access PS. If you were on a deadline, then you just need to kiss that goodbye! The subscription model is flawed and will never work for individules or larger corporations that rely on PS for their business. Now…see Jason’s note above and send off messages to each and ever one of those Adobe employees !!!

    1. Craig, just because it’s on subscription doesn’t mean you won’t be able to use it if your internet goes down. It installs on your computer as a normal program, and if I remember correctly, only needs to ‘phone home’ about every 30 days, and even then gives you a couple of days grace if it can’t connect.

      1. I am not using the subscription model so thanks for the clarification Victoria – but I do recall that there are features of the subscription model that do require continual internet access (cloud apps are one such example)

        1. That’s true, although the giveaway is in the name – “Cloud” apps. 😉 The CS6 programs that we’re all used to using will work largely as normal though.

  19. Any change that comes will stem from the impact on Adobe’s bottom line. Dealing with companies here in DFW, many upgrade every other version. This may end up being like Facebook where everyone is vocal, but they still comply, or cause a financial backlash as no one upgrades.

    For the individual consumer, I foresee most being corralled into the subscription model. It’s just the most cost effective option, and the industry at large has wanted this for a while.

    1. So, it sounds like the answer is to not upgrade to CS6 when it comes out, forcing Adobe to go back to the policy of allowing upgrades back more than one version…would you agree that’s what would be needed?

      1. I don’t like the single-version upgrade any more than you do, and I’d be very pleased if they back-peddled on that.

        But just be aware you could end up shooting yourself in the foot if they don’t back-peddle and you lose your upgrade pricing. Individuals using a single product are pretty small fry for Adobe – particularly when they don’t upgrade for 2 or 3 versions.

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