Adobe's price isn't right

Adobe expects Europeans to pay twice as much as American customers for the most comprehensive Creative Suite 3 package. That's a pricey expectation

Adobe is a natural building material made from sand, clay, straw and, sometimes, cow dung. Design professionals know Adobe as a company that's made its name through creativity, technology and savvy marketing; right now, though, it's full of its ancient namesake's malodorous fourth component.

That sharp reek comes from the company's UK pricing policy for its new Creative Suite 3. To celebrate our good fortune in living in Britain, the company proposes to charge us close to double the rate it extracts from our American cousins. Our price tag of £2,313 for the Master Collection translates to $4,583 — a figure we'd dearly love to see the company try and foist on its home market instead of the actual $2,499 (£1,261).

Insult enough. But the company compounds the stench by asking us to inhale some gargantuan excuses. It wants to provide the Adobe Live event free of charge — an odd way to describe a £1,000 premium — and, it says, support costs are higher because Europeans speak lots of languages. That speciousness deserves nothing but contempt — verachtung, mépris and desprecio, if you prefer continental translations at no extra charge. Everyone knows how many people would tick the "Support — £1,000" box if it were an option.

It's not hard to sniff out the real reasons. Adobe knows that its professional users will cough up whatever it asks, as long as it hurts less than having to change platform. Those who don't want to pay will continue to use rip-off copies, regardless of the official price tag. So why not squeeze those pips until they squeak?

Such profiteering betrays a company that sees itself as an irreplaceable part of the infrastructure. That may not be as true as Adobe imagines. Creating a powerful commercial imperative to find alternatives isn't smart, especially when both Microsoft and the open-software community are willing and able to take the job on. Alienating your users by crass exploitation is just filling the fire buckets with petrol.

As a building material, adobe has survived for four millennia because it is flexible, usable and affordable. If Adobe aspires to emulate that longevity, it has to wake up and smell what's in the air. It sure ain't coffee.


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