Home / Blog / General / Technology

Straight Talk About the Cloud: Adobe Responds

Updated 12/18/13: Scroll down or click here.

As promised, Bill Roberts, Adobe's director of video product management, has taken time in the limited space I've given him to address many of the questions, concerns and misconceptions about Adobe's Creative Cloud that have come to light over the last few weeks. One question he has not answered — and I've sent him a note about it — is the one about the nefarious wording rumored to be in the fine print that would give Adobe access and rights to our IP stored in their cloud. My opinion is that this is just a rumor because with big studio clients whose lawyers go over everything, that language just would not fly. Hopefully Bill will verify this later on — with the 1300-word limit I gave him, he could only address so much. Now, without further ado, I present Bill Roberts.


Adobe Creative Cloud: The Network as the New Platform
By Bill Roberts

The platform of content creation has and will continue to change. Many years ago it used to be hardware such as VTRs, scanners, switchers and DVEs. It then transitioned to post-production software running on workstations and laptops. Companies that successfully transitioned their technology to the new platform survived, and those that didn't are all but erased from our memories.

Today, the emerging platform is the network, in every part of our professional and personal lives. Using Dropbox, Pandora, Google Docs or Evernote? If so, you've built a dependency on the network. The device or seat becomes an interface to a rich set of services, making your notes, music or files available wherever you are. The decision of whether or not to use these services is your choice, but they can be wonderful conduits to new experiences.

I used to spend a substantial amount of money every month with the iTunes store to buy music. Now, I subscribe to Rdio and have "music as a service." I still buy an occasional album, but now I have a massive archive of music available wherever I go. As a result, I listen to more music and enjoy it more. Do I know where the files I listen to are? No. Do I care? No, because "it just works" when I'm in North America, Asia or Europe. Yes, this is a personal-enjoyment example. But it's an example of how the network has changed my life.

In our industry, this shift is happening. The network is the new platform. For some, this is old news. For others, it's still years away. But it's happening.

Dispelling the Creative Cloud Myths
Creative Cloud provides the desktop tools that many users know and love in a new way, and surrounds these applications in rich services that amplify their value (cloud storage, website creation, licensed fonts, etc). Do you have to use these other services? No. Do you have to store a single file on our infrastructure? No. The choice is yours. But is there value for some people in storing your files on Creative Cloud? Absolutely. A great example is the review process that is built into Creative Cloud for Photoshop. There is one file in one place, and everyone who needs to review the image can comment on it. Some people will love this feature, while others will prefer emailing files and/or finding other methods to review work. The choice is yours, and you can still get plenty of value from the Creative Cloud tools without using those services.

By the way, you don’t need ongoing Internet access to use your Creative Cloud desktop applications (such as Photoshop, Premiere Pro, and After Effects). These apps are installed directly on your computer, so you won't need an ongoing Internet connection to use them on a daily basis. An Internet connection is required the first time you install and license your desktop apps, but with a valid software license you can use the apps in offline mode for up to 99 days if you’re an annual subscriber, and up to 30 days for month-to-month users.

As we look at our professional video applications, we know that storage of media is both a financial concern and an emotional issue, which is why, in conjunction with developing Creative Cloud, Adobe has also created solutions such as Anywhere for video, a solution that unlocks the power of the network for collaboration and media sharing, all using your infrastructure, hardware and network. When you make the network the basis of your workflow, it will change your workflow for the better. Technologies like Adobe Anywhere push us into a 'fileless' workflow. As a creative, you work with your stuff wherever and whenever you want to.

Benefits of the Creative Cloud Business Model
Regarding the Creative Cloud business model, much care was taken to find a price for Creative Cloud subscriptions that makes sense for virtually every user who values being up-to-date on a regular basis. It’s great to see many of the commenters who have echoed what we’ve heard already from many of the more than 1 million paying Creative Cloud subscribers: that they are excited for the opportunities this business model gives them.

I encourage users to contrast our pricing with other vendors in the industry, many of which are mentioned in your comments and feedback. We're not "playing around" with subscriptions or bolting them onto a perpetual model with mandatory maintenance and subscription, which is a practice that many other vendors employ. And I also wanted to point out: there is an option to subscribe to Creative Cloud for one month at a time without an annual commitment, and free trials.

To those who express concern that Adobe could increase the monthly charges once you’ve invested, know that our goal as we researched our pricing was to continue providing unparalleled value and give our users every reason to stay current and up-to-date on software. That’s the cornerstone of our customer relationship, and we wouldn’t take any action that would compromise that relationship.

One important benefit of the subscription model of Adobe Creative Cloud is that it gives our product development teams the opportunity to deliver features much faster. Since our customer (you) can cancel a subscription at any point due to dissatisfaction for whatever reason, we must make continuous improvements to features and workflow already in the application and deliver these new features more frequently. Our objective is to continue to add more users to our ecosystem and delight them through brilliant technology and services when and where they need them.

Preparing for Workflows of the Future
A look at the video industry shows that we’re experiencing a time of immense change. Never in the history of cinema, television and the web have there been so many concurrent changes hitting content creators. At this moment, it’s hard for anyone to definitively say how 2014 will roll out in terms of adoption of industry changes such as 4K distribution, 50/60p frame rates, extended-dynamic-range cameras, web deliverables, new formats, or content packages for distribution.

But those who subscribe to Creative Cloud to create their video content will be the most well-equipped creative professionals out there to face those changes. If you rely on hardware-assisted systems as a user, how are you going to handle the 4K master job shot at 6K 60p that comes in the door today? You won't be able to. You have to buy hardware and pay for a new version of perpetual software. If you're a Premiere Pro user, you're good to go today. Why? Because we’ve updated our product four times in the past seven months to support virtually every format that users can shoot or deliver on today, all while adding amazing features such as shot-matcher in SpeedGrade, C4D Lite from Maxon bundled with After Effects, new products like Prelude Live Logger for your iPad, and hundreds of other new features to the professional video tools, not to mention the added benefits of Creative Cloud itself.

Yes, if you want these features, you need to subscribe to Creative Cloud. And if you're a video professional, you will continue to see three things from Adobe: an open company that believes in partnerships and open standards, amazing innovation in creativity and speed in our products, and collaborative workflows that have never been seen before.

We're going to continue to innovate and release new video apps to Creative Cloud and engage our customers in a deep, rich conversation on how our industry progresses. By doing these two things, we will establish the network as the new platform and jointly create the workflows of the future. Want to keep using our desktop products in the way you have in the past? No problem. We'll keep delivering more than enough innovation to keep you amazed. But I also encourage you to work with us to build the new workflows that will empower and grow our industry.


I want to thank Adobe and Bill for putting up with a lot of abuse here in the past few weeks — but then, I told them to expect it. I also want to thank them for taking the time to listen and respond. If you still have questions, feel free to express them below in the comments section.


Update 12/18/13:

Bill Roberts tells me he contacted the legal department at Adobe and this is the gist…as he explains it.  

“It’s important to note that users do not have to save their data onto our servers and can continue to work with local files should they wish.

But I want to be very clear that the user retains ownership of their content. The Creative Cloud terms of use does provide Adobe with a license from users for content they post and share with other users through Creative Cloud. However, Adobe's license rights are limited and solely as needed to provide the service to the user. In other words, we need that agreement in order to provide the service, but the agreement does not give us any rights to their content beyond that.”

I would like to know how limited their license on my stuff is. He sort of skipped over that quickly. Let me tell you about Bill: He's a good guy and person-to-person he's a straight shooter. Unfortunately, this is all official stuff and it has to be vetted and reworded and polished and put through PR. That's most likely why it sounds a little wishy-washy. I think the answer is that if you are worried about your IP, work and share locally. That's what studios do anyway.

One more thing. You guys are really pissed about this Creative Cloud move. I can see many of your points, but the reality is … what is … is. Communication is our best channel to change, and I assure you that Adobe has been listening. Perhaps not agreeing with everything, but definitely listening. Those of you giving fair, well thought-out and expressed ideas have the greatest impact.

36 Comments

Categories: Blog, General, Technology
Tags: , , , , , ,

  • Boghav

    Given 1300 words as a limit was fruitless excercise as he spent most of it rambling and talking to an audience of neophites-not the professionals who keep Adobe in business. Adobe’s greatest flaw is it’s current product director.

  • Kelly Jones

    And Adobe can take things away and not even tell you like Encore. Then all the work you have done in the past is gone because you can no longer make DVD or Blu Rays for clients to present. You can’t go back and make changes or edit and resend out Finals. YES Adobe can kill programs just as fast as they make them, leaving the user falling from the cloud without a parachute because they no longer have access to a program.

    • Eric

      I still use Encore CS6, it works great with the CC products. They just don’t have a new version. The only way you would lose access would be to uninstall the program.

  • KopyRite

    “I subscribe to Rdio and have “music as a service”… and intend to do so for the rest of your life?

    • Emilio

      Maybe he is considering piracy as an option.
      I hate to say it, but it makes more sense every day…

  • ramuno

    So it comes down to people who rent software and people who buy. If you insist on a rental only plan, how about when someone stops paying, just stop updates and don’t make the software that has been payed for up to that point stop working altogether?

    • Jaymes Poudrier

      People would abuse the system and pay for a month, download the suite and get it all for $50. Then do it again when the features they want come out. Adobe would be hemoraging more money than charging people up front every year. Which might be better for you but nit for them. Also, as technology improves they’re going to need more processing power as a service rather than a function of the program for people who don’t have data centers to compute heavy editing functionality.

      • mycommentemail

        How about setting a minimum “purchase price” then that will lock your rights to the software in once you have spent that much. Basically the big issue that is never addressed is that people don’t want to give Adobe the the keys to when they are allowed to access their own work.

        Let me pay the rental fee, but once I have payed a similar amount to what the current suite costs to own, don’t lock me out the second I stop paying the toll.

        But that just returns us to the purchasing model and Adobe WANTS us to have to pay them every moment we use their tool. Less money in our pockets. More in theirs. That is their right. But don’t act surprised when people get angry about something that smacks of extortion.

  • FormerAdobeFan

    If for any reason I stop the “cloud subscription” I’ve lost access to all MY creative work. Unless I can find another program to open the files, I’m totally dead in the water. Not acceptable. Unless Adobe can address this issue, when Premiere Pro 6.5 stops working or falls behind in features, I’ll be switching to Vegas, Avid, Edius, or maybe even back to FCP if Apple cleans it up enough. And yes, I use Encore, and have customers who still depend on optical media for distribution.

    • Eric Philpott

      You’re not “dead in the water!” You can always subscribe again if you need the apps, or just do a 30-day trial if you only need short-term access to a project. It’s a lot cheaper than having to buy a whole package just to open up some old archive (which I have had to do a few times in the past). You are not “paying for life.” You’re paying for the tools when you need them.

      • mycommentemail

        And subscribe again. And again. And again. Every month. Every year. Forever. Every time I want access to MY own data – in perpetuity – I have to pay Adobe a toll.

        I use Photoshop every single day. But I don’t upgrade every cycle. I don’t upgrade even every other cycle. But once I switch to their new extortionist licensing scheme I am forced to “upgrade” whether I need new features or not. And if I decide I no longer wish to do so (or if money gets tight) it doesn’t matter how much money I have spent with them in the past. Suddenly I cannot work.

        This is the issue. The is the core. Once I have to pay Adobe a subscription to access my own data, I no longer have control over that data. I now owe Adobe a stipend for the simple reason that they have locked access to my my own work behind their gate. This article carefully treads around this issue and clearly demonstrates that Adobe WANTS this kind of relationship. It is only one step removed from those viruses which encrypt your entire hard drive and then demand money for you to decrypt it (and get access back to your own work).

        Of course, Adobe is free to do whatever they please with their own software. But these actions and this callous disregard for their customers means that I have switched from being a huge Adobe fan to wanting nothing to do with them ever again. I will milk CS6 as long as I can (which may not be all that long because Adobe refuses to even maintain it on a basic level) and then I will dump that product and the arse wholes who make it faster than they can say “oops. we f’d up.”

        Remember Quark? It can happen again.

  • jb

    Doens’t matter how you slice it, dice it, fillet it, chop it, or dress it up. It still means having to fork over money on a regular basis, on Adobe’s terms. I prefer freedom. Like others on this forum, when CS6.5 no longer works, I’ll be saying audios Adobe.

  • Shane M.

    The issue isn’t the network. It’s the company having to much control over the users of the software. As a content creator I can do all of these things now without Adobe being on the cloud. The network while being extremely beneficial and adding flexibility isn’t a requirement, it’s another tool in today’s modern age.

  • Guest

    So, where does Adobe make most of their money– high-, mid-, or entry-level workstations/houses? I’d like to know more about the cost model used for the subscription pricing. As a mid-level company, we historically updated every 2 years, on avg. If the price point was more comparable to that… it might make more sense. Was the model used to determine the subscription fees based on the high-end houses who do update with every release? If so, how can Adobe think they will NOT ostracize the rest of the industry. With a CC subscription, my Adobe overhead more than doubled. Further, I don’t WANT to see Adobe making more and more apps. I want to see them stop fluttering endless icons for programs that come and go. And while app and file integration is imperative, and new “features” are nice, that’s not the critical piece of the puzzle. Effective, fast workflows is what drives most video producers I know. So, a better focus would be merging tools and features into FEWER applications. I want to open fewer applications at any given time. Adobe seems to be missing that boat, speaking of platform model changes and adapting to the future in the present. All that said, I think the cloud structure IS the future. It has to be. But I am certainly not convinced, as enticing as it is, that a file-less workflow is the here-and-now. But I am drooling a bit thinking about it…

  • RamseyPro

    Where does Adobe make most of their money– high-, mid-, or entry-level workstations/houses? I’d like to know more about the cost model used for the subscription pricing. As a mid-level company, we historically updated every 2 years, on avg. If the price point was more comparable to that… it might make more sense. Was the model used to determine the subscription fees based on the high-end houses who do update with every release? If so, how can Adobe think they will NOT ostracize the rest of the industry. With a CC subscription, my Adobe overhead more than doubled. Further, I don’t WANT to see Adobe making more and more apps. I want to see them stop fluttering endless icons for programs that come and go. And while app and file integration is imperative, and new “features” are nice, that’s not the critical piece of the puzzle. Effective, fast workflows is what drives most video producers I know. So, a better focus would be merging tools and features into FEWER applications. I want to open fewer applications at any given time. Adobe seems to be missing that boat, speaking of platform model changes and adapting to the future in the present. All that said, I think the cloud structure IS the future. It has to be. But I am certainly not convinced, as enticing as it is, that a file-less workflow is the here-and-now. But I am drooling a bit thinking about it…

  • Jack

    HI, The solution is very simple. In my case, I drop Adobe Premiere and choose Final Cut. Is not so friendly and equal to Premiere but I prefer to have the choice to buy another version when I decide. In case of Adobe, you don’t have the choice to stay with version at the end of annual contract.
    Adobe decide to operate business with monthly revenues. That’s all. All arguments Adobe give is to justify decision.

  • Peter Plantec

    Nice bunch of comments. These are more articulate and well,thought out and I appreciate it. I mentioned to Bill that he neglected to address the fine print rumor about Adobe laying claim to your IP if you store in the cloud. I haven’t seen hi response yet. But we’ll post it here as soon as we get it. My personal opinion is that Adobe would be insane to have anything like that in the fine print, because inevitably someone reads those tiny words.

    • Bill Roberts

      Peter – the response is that it is your choice to store data in the cloud or on your local machine, the cloud is simply another option – if you do choose to store on Creative Cloud, I want to be very clear that the user retains ownership of their content. The Creative Cloud terms of use does provide Adobe with a license from users for content they post and share with other users through Creative Cloud. However, Adobe’s license rights are limited and solely as needed to provide the service to the user. In other words, we need that agreement in order to provide the service, but the agreement does not give us any rights to their content beyond that.

      • Peter Plantec

        Thanks for clarifying, Bill. I wish I had a legal mind and could understand what “Adobe’s license rights are limited.” means. I’m virtually certain that there is nothing nefarious there. But this is the kind of wording that gets my readers nervous. I’d be curious what kind of license Adobe needs to provide its service. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate you being forthcoming, but my readers tend to be savvy and sometimes a little paranoid about vagueness. Clearly the big studios would not use Creative Cloud if there was a real problem here. But…you know, I’m just say’n…

        Oh and sorry about the paranoia crack dear readers, but you know who you are.

  • cris

    My previous attempt to post was denied, I assume it was due to my excessive use of vulgarity, so this time I’ll say it nicely.
    1 – The CC model makes more money for Adobe. Adobe is in business to make money. The bottom line is the bottom line. They researched price points, update scheduling and other factors before making the decision to stop selling the product and starting the subscription service. Which undoubtedly many people will end up using like a gym membership. You start out zealously, slow down, let it sit for months but always keep your membership because next week you know you’re going to the gym.
    2 – As someone who participated in answering their questionnaires and talking to other users about it, the consensus I got was the major update were too frequent, coming out just as one was getting comfortable with the previous update. But that was just a small circle of people.
    3 – I don’t recall ever hearing anyone begging for quicker updates.
    4 – If Adobe wanted to keep all of its customers happy they could make physical releases just as they always have and issue new releases with the upgrades less frequently, and continue the CC for those “Millions” of subscribers who find it more beneficial. Also not allow the files created in CC to be backwards compatible thereby preventing people “taking advantage” of Adobe. But I don’t know anything about writing programs so maybe that’s harder than it sounds.
    5 – It was a nice politician like move Mr. Roberts used in talking about everything, included listening to music on three continents, but not answering the question regarding fine print and Adobe have access and rights to Intellectual Properly stored on their cloud. I guess a 1300 words isn’t enough for that. Let me see how many words it takes for me to answer it. Yes we do, or No we don’t. Well the first part of the answer is only 3 words.

    • Peter Plantec

      Chris, you had me rolling on the floor. See, you can be “nice”. Grin. This was helpful…Bill is responding to the fine print rumor. Will post shortly.

  • Emilio

    It seems my last comment was somehow lost… or still awaiting “moderation”.
    Peter, could you see that it gets published? I have not used profanity in any way, and I think Mr Roberts needs and deserves to read it.
    It would be sad to see, after the lengths you have gone to defend your position as an independent journalist, to be made into a censor.

    • Anonymous

      Hi, Emilio. We have filters that keep the comments section fairly free of spam, but they also occasionally throw legit comments into a moderation queue. Your comment has now been published.

      • Emilio

        Thank you very much for publishing it, and for deleting the double paste at the end. It was probably what caught the autofilter´s attention.

  • Peter Plantec

    I signed In wrong…oh well, this is really me. macMD, thank you for this info. I noticed that the creative cloud has been updating my old version of Photoshop CS6. I wondered if they converted it to read the CC version files. I’ll have to experiment to find out.

  • Bill Roberts

    Emilio, I’m sorry that you feel I did not address your concerns, my response was written to address the comments in the forum, but for you I missed the mark. If you articulate your specific questions to Peter, this forum I will do my best to answer them.

  • Bill Roberts

    I replied to the fine print comment to Peter above in this thread. I’m sorry you’re disappointed in my responses, they were written with care.

    • cris

      Why can’t Adobe can do like they used to in the past? Make upgrades, put it on a
      disk, let people buy, own it, learn it and use it at their own pace, or do like Apples does, make the upgrades don’t put it on a disk and people just down load it, own it and learn it and use it at their own pace, and
      let those who want CC subscribe to it. And we unfortunates who don’t have the latest and greatest will have no one to blame but ourselves when those CC subscriber’s get all the work.

      • Peter Plantec

        Chris, I feel your points and appreciate your passion. Thanks for toning down a bit, but you do speak,for many I believe.

    • Peter Plantec

      Thanks for chiming in here Bill. I and many of my reader’s appreciate your time and efforts on our behalf. Clearly this is a tricky subject and emotions run high. I think part of that is that people have for years felt Adobe apps were theirs…they spent years perfecting their Photoshop skills for example, and the cloud looks and feels like a threat to their future. I was hoping we would be a bit kinder here. One thing that is clear…passion abounds here. It’ say matter of trust and that will take time.

  • Bill Roberts

    All – I appreciate the spirited nature of the forum and the range of voices that can be read in the comments. Please remember that I do work for a public software vendor and that is the voice I speak with, as a representative of Adobe. If you want to label me a corporate shill – fine, that is your prerogative, but I wrote both postings and I did so because I care both about my company and my customers; I get to make products for creative people to use – that is what gets me excited and keeps me going. I spend about 50% of my work year on the road meeting with customers, taking the feedback (as I do here) and listening to their creative wishes. I have worked in this ‘type’ of role since 1994 – not always Adobe, I’ve worked at Autodesk and Avid also. Prior to 1994 I too was a video editor, though long ago, I still try to put myself in a users shoes when I take any decision. In my career making software, when I respond in a public forum I do my best to be honest and direct, those who have known me over the last 20 years will hopefully attest to that fact.

    As we exit 2013, I am extremely proud of the Professional Video teams at Adobe – we’ve delivered a mountain of innovative technology. As we look to the future, we’re going to keep on innovating – I am confident that if we keep doing that and providing value to our subscribers many of the concerns raised here will be addressed.

    I wish the readers of Studio Daily Happy Holidays in advance of next week, I will try to check back into this lively thread prior to the break.

    • Peter Plantec

      I can verify that Bill is a straight shooter who loves his work, his team and the customers he serves. I appreciate his testicular integrity in facing us. We are the definitive “Tough Crowd”. I hope you can appreciate how difficult this is for him be here with us. So I implore you…give Bill the benefit of the doubt and the respect he deserves. This is very unusual access…clearly your voices are being heard and you should take advantage of that through respectful interaction…thank you.

  • What Everyone’s Thinking

    Great job not addressing the massive security breach, Adobe! I am one of millions of potential customers who will never, for ONE second, EVER consider typing my credit card into your Creative Cloud signup page, because you haven’t given us the SLIGHTEST hint of what you’ve supposedly done to secure your billing system after having been COMPLETELY ROOTED TO THE BONE. Did you create a brand new billing server, from scratch, with not a single piece of compiled or executable code copied from the old machine into the new? No? THEN WHY THE HELL SHOULD WE TRUST YOU?

    • Peter Plantec

      Hey What. That wasn’t the topic we asked Bill to address, actually. I agree, I’d like to know what’s being done. But hell they have my credit card number and it was most likely captured by the hackers, but fully encrypted….so big deal. I’m not worried. Adobe protected my interests with its multiple levels of security…so the asses got a lot do encrypted credit card numbers…no harm to users. The real harm was that they got source code and could potentially hack sites built with Adobe Apps. That in my opinion is the serious part. I believe they hired an allegedly crack outside security team to come in and rework the system closing gaps in security. Nobody these days is immune to hacking. Best bet for now, work Adobe apps local. IMHO they already protected me and I like the Creative Cloud.

  • Peter Plantec

    I’d like to post a comment sent to me by a well known and respected industry person. He doesn’t post on these things but has been following our conversation. I think he makes some worthy comments.

    “If I was in charge of Adobe, I think I would be more forthcoming. Here is an approach I think would work better for them: “”We value all of our customers, but we have to protect our revenue streams. Powerful software has never been as inexpensive as it is today, and Adobe is one of the companies that helped bring the prices down to historic levels of affordability. We think Creative Cloud is a fair deal, even if it means you’re paying a little more for your software, and 1.5 million customers so far agree. So here’s some straight talk: this train has left the station. But if you have suggestions for ways we could make the system more fair and reasonable, while still ensuring we have the predictable revenue we need to continue funding robust R&D, please tell us how and we’ll consider your feedback. Oh, and we’re working with our legal team to clarify the contractual language about our rights to your content in the cloud, so thanks for bringing that to our attention.”” I think people would be okay with this.”

    • Peter Plantec

      They’d also have to post widely, an access channel so our suggestions would get to the right people.

Curated By Logo