The president of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals this week decried reported planned changes to Adobe Systems' upgrade policies for Adobe Photoshop and the Creative Suite. The new path requires owners of older versions to purchase the current Creative Suite 5.x before upgrading (and paying for) the next version.
According to Kelby, owners of the popular Version 4.x will be required to "repurchase" Version 5.x at full price before moving to the next version, presumable Version 6.0.
In his long "open letter" to Adobe executives, Kelby suggests that Adobe go slowly with such an aggressive pricing strategy.
I have always felt that Adobe was very customer centric, and that their decisions were based on what’s best for their customers, but in this particular instance I can’t see how cutting off CS4 and CS3 users, and making them either pay two upgrades in a row, or pay the full retail price to get CS6, benefits anybody but Adobe.
Remember that we're talking about a $699 piece of software here.
With that said, here’s my plea to Adobe: If you really want to be fair to your customers, at the very least don’t start this policy yet. Start it with Photoshop CS7. Make CS6 your new upgrade pricing transition version, and tell everybody now, up front—–at the start of the product’s life cycle, that everybody will need to upgrade to CS6 at some point because the next version (CS7) won’t support older users. That way, we’re not spending money just to spend more money again. Adobe, you can still have what you want—-you can still get everybody on the current version, but it gives us time to save, time to plan, and anybody still left behind at that point will have had more than fair warning.
Another option I feel would be very fair to Adobe customers would be to offer a tiered upgrade which rewards your best customers (customers who upgraded to CS5 or 5.5) by giving them the best upgrade deal, but then offer CS4 users a reasonable upgrade path (they would pay more for their upgrade, but they’re getting all the features added in CS5.5 as well, so that’s fair) and then why not even offer an upgrade path to CS6 for your CS3 users? They would certainly wind up paying the most in upgrade fees, but at least it wouldn’t be the full $699 (or even more if they’re on the CS3 suite). This tiered approach gives everybody an opportunity to stay on as an Adobe customer, but still gives your best customers preferential upgrade pricing.
Good luck with this plea. Adobe owns this professional platform. Apple might offer some competition, but in its actions this past year, Cupertino appears to stressing its consumer-side solutions rather than behaving like a company that targets professional content creators. We will see whether the considerations for longstanding customers or corporate profit margins come out on top here.