When Adobe announced their move from packaged releases to a pure subscription model last year, I wasn’t a fan. I’ve been an Adobe customer for nearly 20 years, and this move didn’t look like a good deal for anyone who wasn’t an Adobe employee or stockholder. But, at $29.99/month for the first year, I figured I’d give it a shot and re-evaluate after 12 months. Well, my 12 months are just about up, and here’s where I’m at.
The apps I use the most in the suite are Photoshop and Lightroom. Lately, Lightroom really handles the lion’s share of what I need to do with my images. I’m not a compositor, so I rarely use Photoshop. And of all the new features that have been added to Photoshop CC, I can’t think of one that I’ve used in the last 12 months.
As for the rest of the apps in the bundle, I found myself using Illustrator a good bit while I was working on Swimsuit 2014. We used a lot of vector art in this project, and for the first time, we exported much of it as SVG, which Illustrator is perfect for. I also used Sketch 2 for a lot of this work. Sketch handled open Illustrator files and exporting them as SVGs brilliantly. So while I used Illustrator a good bit, I think I can get the same job done using Sketch, for a lot less money.
I also used Acrobat Pro a couple of times. Mainly to edit a few PDF files. There are several apps on the Mac that can do this for a lot less than the recurring cost of Creative Cloud, so again, this isn’t something that would compel me to re-up my subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud.
As for the rest of the apps in the bundle… I gave Premiere Pro a try, but it was so crashy during my usage that I gave up. After Effects is a great program, and if I was in a position where I needed such a tool, I could definitely justify the price. But After Effects isn’t an application that is needed in my day to day work, so committing to a $600/year subscription to have it to play with isn’t in the cards.
That brings us to Dreamweaver… Years ago, Dreamweaver was my IDE of choice. But the years have not been kind to the old lady. She’s big, bloated and slow. These days I prefer the lightweight nimbleness of editors like Sublime Text and Textmate.
The other app I could have found use for in my day to day work is Fireworks. But Fireworks has been abandoned by Adobe, and although it’s in the Creative Cloud, it’s a buggy, sad mess. The aforementioned Sketch serves as a much better tool for many of the same tasks.
So that leaves me with two applications – Photoshop and Lightroom – that I ‘need’ in this bundle. At $50/month ($600/year), I couldn’t justify the price for just these 2 applications. I suspect I wasn’t alone in my situation, as Adobe got a lot of feedback from many users, and offered up a plan to address these concerns. The Adobe Photography Bundle was offered late last year for a limited time. At $9.99/month, you get access to Photoshop CC, Lightroom, a Behance membership and 20GB of storage. I signed up for this plan when it was available, and at this price, can justify a yearly subscription.
But I have little faith that Adobe will leave this pricing in place for long. I fully expect Adobe to jack this price up to $15 or $20 month within the next 12 months. At that point, I’ll have to re-evaluate the value of the bundle. As applications like Acorn, Pixelmator and Sketch become more capable and take up more and more of the slack in my day to day graphics needs, Adobe’s subscription plans become less and less compelling.
So at the end of my first year of Creative Cloud, I am canceling my subscription and moving forward with the Adobe Photography Program instead.
I can’t help but think that while the Creative Cloud can be a bargain for professionals who use 4 or more of the apps in the bundle on a regular basis, for the rest of us, it’s just a money grab.
I’d like to see Adobe offer some flexibility in their subscriptions, perhaps offering the ability to do month to month subscriptions to individual apps for $10/month (they currently offer single apps at $20/month with a one year committment). I think this could offer them a lot of upside, and not jeopardize their cash cow Creative Cloud subscriptions. As of right now though, Adobe seems to be pretty pleased with it’s subscription numbers, and as long as they feel the don’t need to, I wouldn’t expect them to make any changes.