Adobe Updates Creative Cloud Applications
Subscription Service Hits 700,000 Paid Users, Most of Them Individuals
Adobe today launched the highly anticipated — and controversial — first Creative Cloud-only update to 15 of its desktop applications, including Premiere Pro, After Effects, SpeedGrade, and Photoshop. The new versions of the apps are available only to Creative Cloud subscribers; CS6 is the last version of the perpetually licensed Creative Suite to be released.
Adobe software users with Creative Cloud subscriptions are able to download the revised applications and use Adobe's browser-based services, like the Kuler color-picker and Story Plus screenwriting and production management tool. Creative Cloud is also integrated with Behance, allowing subscribers to publish portfolios online and follow and interact with other Creative Cloud users. Files shared in the cloud can be accessed from different devices — for example, an iPad user could make some basic color-corrections using Photoshop Touch on the iPad, then open the same file with Photoshop on a desktop machine and keep working. And only Creative Cloud subscribers get the updated applications.
How much does it cost? That depends on whether you're an existing user, and whether you want an individual subscription or a "teams and business" subscription that's oriented toward studios, post facilities and other enterprise users. Individuals can sign up for access to all of the Creative Cloud programs and services for $49.99/month (a single-app subscription is $19.99), with upgrade pricing of $29.99/month for existing users of CS3 or later, and $19.99/month for existing users of CS6 or later (single-app subscriptions are $3.99 for existing users).
Team licenses run $69.99/month per user, but include 100 GB of cloud storage (instead of 20 GB with an individual subscription) as well as centralized billing, administration and deployment and two tech-support calls per seat. Upgrade pricing for teams is $39.99/month per user for the first year, as long as you add users by August 31. Students and teachers who are affiliated with an educational institution can sign up for an individual plan for $19.99/month and a team plan for $39.99/month per user, but only if they do it by June 25.
For more on pricing, visit Adobe's website: creative.adobe.com/plans/
Subscription Model Angers Many
Some users have cried foul, arguing that the new subscription model represents a substantial price hike for individuals who don't use all of Adobe's apps (the full line-up includes page design apps InCopy and InDesign, HTML coding app Dreamweaver, and more that aren't of much use to video pros) or who skip some product update cycles altogether in order to save money in the long run. Larger facilities might not mind the smaller monthly fee so much (compared to a much larger annual cash outlay for an across-the-board upgrade), but some freelancers and small businesses say it's more than they can handle, and worry that Adobe could increase the price at any time.
The worst part of the deal comes, of course, if you stop paying a subscription fee to Adobe — at that point, all of your software stops working. To partly address that concern, Adobe is keeping a perpetually licensed download of CS6 available for purchase by users who object to the subscription model and can live without the new features that are being introduced starting today.
It's doubtful Adobe anticipated quite the volume of negative commentary that met its move to the subscription-only model. (Even Microsoft, a proponent of subscription software, seemed to think Adobe moved too fast.) If you're unhappy, it might pay to keep making noise. Reportedly, Adobe is polling users on alternative pricing models for Creative Cloud, including a proposed three-year contract for $29.99/month that includes a copy of CS6, updated to keep pace with new camera and file formats, at the end of the term.
Looking at the Numbers
Still, Adobe is unlikely to backpedal too far. The new initiative isn't unpopular with everyone — the company said today that 700,000 users had paid subscriptions to Creative Cloud as of May 31, an increase of 221,000 (46 percent) in just three months. If the release of new CC features drives a proportionate increase over the next three months, Adobe will finish out the summer with just over a million paid users. (The company has set a public goal of 1.25 million paid subscriptions by the end of the fiscal year in November, a goal that Adobe seems likely to handily exceed.)
In a conference call today with investors, Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen said that most paid Creative Cloud subscribers are individual members, and noted that Adobe was stepping up efforts to sign on team subscribers. He also said "the overwhelming majority of customers" buying directly from Adobe.com have purchased Creative Cloud rather than CS6. (Note that customers looking specifically for CS6 could find better deals on that software elsewhere, and thus would be unlikely to buy from Adobe.) Narayen reiterated that the company is "evaluating additional options that will help [customers] with the transition."
Responding to a question about what those options might be, Nayaran downplayed the controversy. "It's clear to us that our strategy is spot-on, and actually our execution has been pretty outstanding," he said.
Adobe's EVP and CFO Mark Garrett said 93 percent of Creative Cloud subscribers are on the annual plan, rather than the more expensive month-to-month subscription, and said 81 percent of subscribers pay full price for the full suite of applications rather than opting for the discounted single-application rate.
Blackmagic Design Announces Creative Cloud Support
Also today, Blackmagic Design released Desktop Video v9.7.5, which adds support for Adobe's Creative Cloud applications for DeckLink, UltraStudio, and Intensity. Support for Adobe Mercury Transmit allows broadcast video monitoring to connect to the Mercury Playback Engine for GPU-accelerated real-time effects playback. Blackmagics's UltraStudio 4K and DeckLink 4K Extreeme both support 6G-SDI and 4K HDMI workflows for Ultra HD and dual-stream stereo 3D. The price of UltraStudio 4K recently dropped to $995. The free software update is available from Blackmagic's web support page: www.blackmagicdesign.com/support.