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.
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.
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.