Adobe goes all in on the cloud, ditches Creative Suite

Adobe goes all in on the cloud, ditches Creative Suite

Summary: Creative Suite? Sayonara. The Creative Cloud is the way of the future.

Illustration courtesy Adobe

The latest version of Adobe's Creative Suite—the exceedingly popular design, web and multimedia software suite that includes Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, After Effects, Dreamweaver and Acrobat—will be its last, the company announced at its MAX conference in Los Angeles.

Moving forward, the company will double down on its Creative Cloud software-as-a-service offering, introduced last year.

(Author's note: There seems to be some confusion about the use of the term "cloud" here, so allow me to be more specific. Adobe's Creative Cloud applications live on the desktop—not in a browser, and not in the cloud. The "cloud" bit comes in the syncing, sharing, editing and storage of files across multiple devices. It's a distribution-focused baby step compared to the web applications you're used to.)

Creative Suite 6 -- the current version of the desktop-based offering -- will still be available for purchase, but it is the final version and will not be updated beyond routine maintenance.

Goodbye, CS. Hello, CC.

This is a big step for Adobe and its customers. For one, the company is finally ditching the boxed software concept, even though it has offered downloadable versions for some time. Secondly, the move triggers a major revenue shift, from the one-and-done model of old to the subcription-based one so in vogue in recent years. Finally, the decision indicates that connectivity is ubiquitous enough—at least for the group that spends $1,300 or more on professional software—that it can be fully and deeply integrated into the default experience.

Customers' early reactions have been mixed. "I really can't see this working out too well," one self-proclaimed "art nerd" wrote on Twitter. "A brave move," another person tweeted. Adobe is "moving to a new model called BS," a third wrote. And most damningly, professional photographer David Hobby wrote that the decision "feels like the biggest money grab in the history of software."

He has a point. Individual licenses for the software suite, which comes in various configurations suited to different creative roles, range from $20 to $70 per month in a one-year contract. That's as low as $240 and upwards of $840 per year—far less than the $1,299 to $2,599 you might spend on the desktop suite.

The catch: just how many professionals (or companies) actually upgrade their software each year? (Adobe has traditionally introduced a new full version of the Creative Suite every two years.) If individual users or companies were slow to upgrade (and many are, including this author), this move is ultimately a price hike. On the other hand, for occasional users and power users, the extremes of the usage spectrum, it becomes a deal: you always get the newest and best stuff for less than you used to pay, or you get access to Adobe's software for far less than it used to cost.

For Adobe, the benefits are clear. A subscription model ensures regular, stable revenue streams. Focus on a cloud offering allows it to update its entire customer base immediately. Dropping the desktop offering allows it to focus on the cloud and deeper integration of its products. And the new pricing and distribution scheme could result in reduced piracy.

Topic: Cloud

Andrew Nusca

About Andrew Nusca

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. During his tenure, he was the editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation.

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  • Software as a Service

    I would never, ever run software as a service. There are free tools out there which do most of what photoshop can do, and they're free.

    When you run software as a service, you are giving up complete control of your computing to the publisher. For some of the current lame people in our society who bend over backwards for everybody, this type of software may work for them.
    • Free choices only good enough

      I'm familiar with the free options around. Gimp for Photoshop and Inkscape for Illustrator. I use these free programs now, and I've used Photoshop and Illustrator in the past. They are good programs, if you have limited needs; and they're getting better all the time, but the Adobe programs are the gold standards. Not only are the Adobe programs more powerful and easier to to use, professionals (people that earn a living by using them) are more productive with Adobe. I use the free solutions because they're good enough for what I need -- the occasional photo retouching or book cover design. But I don't kid myself that the free solutions are in the same league as the more powerful and refined offering from Adobe. It's a smart move on the part of Adobe and I'll likely be paying for the privilege.
      Antonio Quinonez
      • HUH

        You have more money than sense!
        • Actually...

          That is your problem not his.
        • Actually he is correct...

          PS is the gold standard as most Pro's will tell you, I find the wanna-be's are the ones that view it the other way...
        • No he doesn't

          You cannot do magazine grade vector graphics without Adobe Illustrator. Sorry - it can't be done, unless you read the PostScript language.
        • You sound like the Peanuts characters in the MetLife commercial

          "It should be 5 cents" Not everything can be 5 cents Jimmy. Do you work for 5 cents? Why should anyone else?
      • why not now?

        Ig\f you will pay as a subscription, then why are you not paying to buty and use teh product now? You say you use free now but you will start paying with subscribtion. It is not a case you pay them $20 this month and then when you think you need later version you pay another month, it is on cloud and you can only use it if paid current.
      • I second this.

        Just for the record. If you're doing this for a living, "free" doesn't always cut it. (Increasingly it does, but...)
      • Re: Free choices only good enough

        Compare Photoshop to the powerhouse team of Gimp+Inkscape+Blender, and you will see why Adobe is giving up on selling software.
        • I have compared them

          and Adobe needss to continue to produce, but a person who uses them regularly would understand that. A amatuer would assump GIMP is equal or better...but that goes w/o saying.
          • Re: I have compared them

            Blender offers node-based compositing, for example. And why settle for faux-3D effects when you can generate accurately physically-modelled ones?
      • There are other non-free applications that are just as good...

        though not as well known simply because they're different. Corel offers some very competitive applications, just as an example. There are others as well. Gimp itself is remarkably good, better than some want to admit; it's just not as easy to use because its interface isn't designed for ease of use, it's designed for pure functionality.

        There were hints on this several months ago and there was a lot of "meh" in response. Let's see what happens now that they've committed?
      • Constantl upgrades mess up files.

        My problem is that every time they upgrade their software my files have to be "re-imported" to work in the new version, and trying to load a file from two years ago sometimes ends up having to be redone to fix the changes introduced by the "new" version. Things that used to line up don't.

        Also, why should I have to relearn the interface (which they seem to change every time they release a new version) when the changes they've provided don't necessarily add anything to what I already do. For example, InDesign 5 doesn't support eBook generation (it's a joke); they came out with 5.5 which moved some commands around, and it STILL doesn't support eBook generation. Version 6, maybe it does better, but I can't find ANYTHING on their website but hype about how great their product is; and nothing that gives me concrete information on what it actually DOES. And the interface has moved commands around. Again.
      • EXACTLY!!!!!!!!!

        Gimp is decent, but cumbersome. Adobe's Creative Suite trumps all and includes software that there is NOT a free solution for. It isn't all about PhotoShop. Illustrator and InDesign are crucial to a creative services department. As much as I hate dealing with Adobe as a company, they are going to still sell their products however they want. I don't see them losing many users.
    • Plus, the bandwidth considerations...

      I agree. I won't run software as a service, either. The cloud has always been a bad idea for the vast majority of users, in my opinion. This is even more true for extremely bandwidth sensitive applications like media creation. It's insane to think of editing 40GB of HD video using an online service. Even 20+ megapixel still images would be very cumbersome to work with. Even if the software is hosted online but run locally, there is still the large bandwidth cost of your browser pulling down the code every time you use it. For any bandwidth intensive tasks, local and native make far more sense than hosted services.

      I can't wait to hear about all of the small companies which had a slow sales year and had their critical software services cancelled because they couldn't pay the monthly extortion. I can see small companies going out of business because they raised their monthly expenses too high buying needed software services and then found they couldn't endure low revenue periods, as a result. For many small companies, the software they use is critical to generating new revenue, particularly in lean times.

      Bottom line: I will far more likely upgrade everything to the latest CS once and simply stop buying anything from Adobe down the road. I don't need another monthly expense just to use my software.
      • Don't want my creative flow to be at the mercy of my Internet connection...

        I agree with you completely, BillDem. Our Internet flakes out during winds, storms, intense freezes, solar flares or a car backfires. I'd really hate to have to wait to work on a project until the 'Net comes back up. This whole cloud thing is just, well, a bad idea in my opinion. Just kidding about the backfiring (I hope).
        • @mindypin....And what about people with limited internet downloads/uploads?

          First getting screwed by MS, and now Adobe! It's obviously all about business and money, the heck with joe sixpack....
        • that's my issue

          Where I live the nearest internet besides dial up or satellite is 30 miles away, the only thing I use is cloud storage, otherwise everything is on my hard drive.

          I realize it's a choice to live where I do, but the move to cloud based computing is locking out many rural customers. ( Moving is no option, I like having my nearest neighbor 1/4 mile away!)
          So my only option is open source, when/if I either move or faster internet reaches my area, I will be firmly entrenched in the alternative software.
          • Exactly merc2dogs!

            I'm on satellite, and have a max download of 400MB/day. Now if I have to start putting everything in the cloud, I'd eat that up real quick working on digital pics and videos, which I do on the side.

            It's just crazy and only benefits those with DSL or cable Internet, IMHO....