I subscribed to Adobe Creative Cloud in 2014 and here is my experience with the CC service for the past year.
A few years ago, the digital art world was upended in turmoil. Pitchforks and torches were handed out, and an angry mob of netizens stormed the gates of Adobe. What manner of monster had Adobe unleashed upon the innocent populous of the design world?
*gasp* A subscription service.
In 2011 Adobe announced the launch of their Creative Cloud service: a monthly subscription to all of the products under the Adobe umbrella. From design tools like Photoshop and Illustrator to video production tools like Premiere Pro and After Effects, you could have it ALL for one monthly price. Soon after, they announced they would no longer be selling the physical boxed editions of their tools, like the popular Master Suite Edition, and CS6 would be the final physical version.
Aside from the oft touted “exorbitant” price, customers expressed fears and concerns about the functionality of a subscription service for essential creative tools. If your cable bill, or Netflix bill lapses, then you just do without those amenities for a while. But what about your work files? What happens with the tools used every day by creative professionals as well as the files they create? How about their clients and customers?
Some of the main concerns raised were:
- Constant online connection needed – no ability to work off line
- Designed to hold your work ransom – the files you create will be “disabled” if you stop paying
- Upgrades/DLC will cost more – monthly fee won’t include future updates or features
- Lack of compatibility – PC and Mac versions would be different and/or CC vs. older CS files wouldn’t open in the other versions
As it turned out, none of those fears were fully realized. With over 3.5 million subscribers and approximately 50,000 more customers each week Adobe Creative Cloud has been pulling in near 5 star ratings across the board, with creative types from all manner of fields.
Being a professional myself in the creative arts (design, web development, logo design, etc.) it would be easy enough for me to just have my employer buy a multi-seat license. But I not only use the Adobe products in my day to day job, but I also use them personally for the little creative projects I do (like this blog and cartooning). Did I really want to find myself beholden to an employer for my personal creative tools? What is I switch jobs? What happens when I’m between jobs? I looked at the math.
The Numbers Game
At the time of the announcement, Adobe CS6 Master Suite (which is pretty much the meat and potatoes that CC offers) was selling for about $3,000. That price covered all of the main Adobe products in one package. You could get Photoshop or video editing packages for less, or buy every single Adobe offering for more, but I needed to look at comparable price points and the fact that eventually CS6 would be out dated if it received no further updates or new versions.
Adobe Creative Cloud is $50 a month (technically $49.99, but who are we fooling). If you are a student or teacher, the monthly cost is significantly lower; around $20 a month. At the $50 price point it would take me sixty months (5 years) to consider myself “in the red” on this particular purchase. Anything beyond five years means that I will have then overpaid on my investment. But is that really the case?
For that $50 a month I would be spending about $1.64 a day or about $11 a week (the cost of a movie ticket or about two cups of coffee).
For that $1.64 a day, I can not only use every Adobe product, but I have access to web publishing tools (online portfolio, websites, etc.), a vibrant community of other creative types, support and even tutorials and education materials to help me get the most from the tools I use as well as ones I might just be interested in checking out.
Plus, Adobe has stated that if, for some unforeseen reason, they do shut down the service (which is highly unlikely they would kill their cash cow) all current subscribers would get to download the most recent version of the software to keep.
The Year In Review
After a year I can really see the benefits of subscribing to Creative Cloud. In no particular order are some of the things I’ve enjoyed about the service:
No Disks – I recently bought a new computer and with the advent of cloud services like Adobe CC, Steam, Dropbox, Arc, Origin, iTunes, etc. I have not had to install a single disk into my computer to install my programs and media. That is HUGE for me, as I typically had to dig though boxes in my storage unit, buy new copies of software if they were lost or damaged, or generally just worry about having physical media … somewhere. I didn’t realize what a boon this was until I actually had a use case where being “in the cloud” really meant something to me.
Constant Upgrades – In the past, spending $3000 on a software package is only made worse when you make the purchase and a few months later a new version is announced. Sure, if you are an existing customer you can pay a small(ish) “upgrade fee”, but ‘cmon! I just bought this! should I have waited? Do I really need to upgrade? What am I missing out on?
Well I no longer have to worry about having the latest and greatest. Adobe regularly updates the software with fixes and features and a few weeks ago the 2015 update rolled out that updated ALL of your Adobe products. Big changes were made across the board and I got the latest and greatest versions of the tools I use everyday … for no additional charge!
Cross Platform – I use my desktop PC at home, and I have a MacBook air for work use and to “go mobile”. Guess what? I can install my Adobe products on both computers. Previously I would have had to choose which physical version of the Adobe products I wanted, and been limited to which computer I would install it on. Now, I can download the version I need for the OS I am working on with absolutely no extra hassle or expense.
Access To ALL Adobe Products – This particular benefit has really impacted me in 2015 since having access to Premiere Pro, just because it was there, has led me to launch my very own YouTube channel. Late in 2014 I got the itch to expand my ability to create content and I decided to click the “install” button next to Premiere Pro and After Effects. If they weren’t there at the simple touch of a button, the spark to pursue video production and editing might have fizzled out while I shopped for software, or tried demo version or even just pondered the investment of money in something I might not even like. But because Premiere Pro was, literally, at hand I was able to install it and dive right into video production with one of the best professional tools available. And using the tutorials available to me though the free Adobe training, I was up and running with high quality videos in no time. The channel was launched January 1st, 2015 and I’ve been chugging along smoothly ever since.
As a whole, Adobe Creative Cloud has been a huge personal as well as professional boon to my creative output. From editing and producing videos, to making thumbnail images and channel art, all the way down to making a website to support my business; Adobe products are what I use to produce the best work I can and to express myself creatively and meaningfully.
And to me, that is worth FAR more than $1.64 a day.