Adobe has gone all in with Creative Cloud. Do you really understand what that means?

Love it or hate it, Creative Cloud is not going away. It’s time to deal with it.

It’s been more than six months since Adobe announced that it was going to a subscription-only business model for its Creative Suite applications while rebranding them under the Creative Cloud name. Today, there’s still a very vocal group of people blasting Adobe for that decision. I’ve had a few debates (okay, more than a few) about the topic and  I’m using this post to spell out why I believe that those waiting for Adobe to back down and offer perpetual licenses will not get what they want. The post isn’t so much about defending Adobe—though I do think they have a right to run their business any way they see fit—but to explain why I think they moved to this business model and why it won’t be reversed.

The idea for this post started when I was asked why I’m fighting those that are against Adobe and Creative Cloud. The fact is, I’m not fighting anyone or anything; I’m just looking at the reality of the situation and the current climate in the software industry. More choices would, in theory, be better. But in practice those choices would cost Adobe millions of dollars. Two licensing models and thousands of SKUs for suites and individual products doesn’t come cheap and it most certainly doesn’t carry with it a guarantee of any return on that investment.

I’ve read countless complaints about this new business model from people who keep repeating the same thing. They want to be able to decide whether to buy or not. In other words, they want Adobe to spend a fortune to offer something for sale that most of them wouldn’t buy anyway. These are the same people that complain when they do have to buy an upgrade to maintain compatibility with a new operating system, to get a new feature or have some obscure bug fixed.

Here’s a question for you. Where do you suppose all the money that will be needed to support perpetual licenses for suites and individual products will come from when you pass on buying it?

These people (and you know who you are) keep talking about loyalty and what Adobe owes them. In short, they want to dictate the terms of Adobe’s business model, insisting on guarantees on pricing and future ability to open files without continuing their subscription.

Next question, how’s that perpetual license of Pagemaker, Livemotion, PageMill, GoLive, and Freehand working out for you on that shiny new computer?

Conveniently overlooked is the fact that loyalty is a two way street. Buying every third version of Creative Suite Design Standard does not make you a loyal customer; it makes you one of the reasons this move became necessary. Adobe has invested hundreds of millions of dollars developing tools that have allowed many of us to make a living but no company can stay in business making that type of investment without a return on it.

Another question comes to mind: When was the last time Adobe abused its position in the market to gouge its customers?

Adobe is not a company being run by fools. Creative Cloud actually addresses the major complaints users have had for many years. It offers a way to fix bugs, quickly add new features, and maintains compatibility with new operating systems without charging anyone an arm and a leg for upgrades. On the same note, there’s no compatibility issue among users. Everyone’s using the same version.

If you don’t want to subscribe, that’s your right, but stop with the FUD. Adobe is not offering promotions because they’re desperate (every company has promotions to attract new customers). This is not a money grab; they’re not tripling the price after “they have everyone hooked.” They’re not going to sit back and stop innovating. They aren’t holding your files hostage. They are not a monopoly and their management knows full well that if they do any of that there will be a line at the door to get out with any number of competitors ready to take that business away from them.

I’ve been attacked for my opinion on this and been called among other things, a troll, a fanboy, and an apologist (usually anonymously by someone hiding behind a keyboard and a fake name). What I am is a realist. None of us has the right to dictate the way a company does business in a free market economy. We do have the right to switch to other tools and Adobe is well aware of that.

This was a high risk move by Adobe and if the recent numbers (more than one million subscribers [update March 2014: subscriptions are now closing in on two million] with a reported 25,000 or so signing up every week) are any indication they will be reaping some long-term rewards. This is good not only for Adobe, but its customers, as well. With a consistent and predictable cash flow, they should be in a better position to continue developing new tools and services. If they don’t, that exit line will start forming very quickly.

I don’t expect to change any minds, but at least I’ll have something to point to the next time someone asks me why I’m not joining their fight.

Comments are open but please keep it civil.