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Jonathan Elliman Design Limited

Jonathan Elliman Design

Creative Cloudburst

Imagine if you couldn’t buy a computer. You had to lease it. Or you couldn’t buy a car. You had to lease it. Well, leasing Adobe’s creative tools is now the only option to someone who wants to use any of Adobe’s latest creative applications.

Many disgruntled users of Adobe’s software have said that they will be sticking with CS5 or 6 or whatever version they are using. For my business this is now impossible. I am often working with other designers or given files by clients that are created in newer versions of Adobe software. The decision was sadly out of my hands.

So what’s the big fuss?

Adobe has made a business decision based mainly upon greed. Here’s my argument as to why.

Last time I paid for a new boxed Design Standard license in March 2012 is was £1150.80. I used to upgrade every 2 years. An upgrade for the Design Standard license was at that time £285.60.

Now there is a single monthly charge in the UK of £46.88 including VAT. That’s £562.56 per year. After 5 years use the Creative Cloud, at £3375.36, will be 51% more expensive than the old boxed product. And that’s without any cost increases, as the monthly price may increase after a year (this price is also determined by agreeing to a yearly subscription.) The monthly subscription without a contract is £70.32, or a whopping £843.60 per year.

Why isn’t there a range of entry rental prices? Why can’t I pay less and not access all the applications? The vast majority of designers I know primarily use InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop and Acrobat. That’s it. They don’t use, want or even care about Premiere or Flash or Dreamweaver. So, why oh why, are we being forced to pay for them?

Another blood boiling fact is that if you stop paying for the software you can’t open the designs that you technically own. Adobe has back peddled a little since the launch in May, and said that there will be access for non subscribers but they haven’t explained exactly how this might work. And, you know what, they’re not exactly a company I trust anymore.

Mature products

Adobe is adamant that the Creative Cloud solution is the best for its engineers. It means that there’s only one version to support or develop at any one time. It means they can focus on one task – adding new features.

Here’s the thing. The apps I use are mature products. In terms of functionality, I believe that most of the print apps have gone as far as they can go. There haven’t been any significant advances in these applications for the last 5 years. Sure, Adobe has added some nice features like patterns in Illustrator and fluid layouts in InDesign. But most users don’t even scratch the surface of these additional features. They design cool stuff for their clients and get them out the door as soon as they can.

So, I am now paying more for products I don’t need, updates to products that I don’t need, and, what’s worse, some things are even slower than previous versions of Creative Suite.

Performance hits

The performance of InDesign CC is just woeful on my, admittedly ageing, 2010 MacBook Pro. From selecting text to moving content, there just seems to be a lag with everything I do. And an awful lot of people are suffering from the same problems. So at the moment I am exporting everything from Indesign CC back to InDesign CS6 just to work at a decent lick. And I am paying more for the privilege for this convoluted workflow? I though Adobe said it was going to get better. It’s seven months since InDesign CC came out and people are still complaining that the new version of InDesign is slower than their old version. This is ridiculous, surely?

And if I get another update request for the application I’ve only just updated I am going to curl up at the edges like a sad 1980’s BR sandwich and die.

Adobe now has the control over your hardware upgrade path too. People tend to upgrade software according to their needs. It’s factored on their own hardware upgrade path and their own budget. When Adobe upgrade Creative Cloud to a version that doesn’t work on your 2012 MacBook Pro what are you going to do then? You’re going to have to upgrade your hardware because there is only one version of their software available. More cost, less choice.

Unlovable Adobe

I’m giving money to a company that is hard to like. It makes me resent opening these applications. You should love your tools (fnarr fnarr), not hate them. A lot of people agree. Over 45,000 people have signed a petition asking Adobe to restore their boxed version. It’s not going to happen. Adobe is convinced this is the way forward.

But Adobe isn’t going to win. They are upsetting their core market and they are risk losing it. They got it wrong about Flash and they’ve got it wrong about subscription only software.

When I started in the graphics industry in the mid Nineties, software was not integrated very well. You picked and chose you vector package (Freehand, Illustrator or CorelDraw), their layout package (Quark or PageMaker for the insane), and photo editor (Photoshop, PaintShop Pro, CorelDraw again or xRes). There was, admittedly, limited choice. Are we regressing back to that situation again?

When Adobe launched InDesign against Quark back in 1999, it was great. There was finally some competition for an ageing and insanely expensive piece of design layout software. Ten years later and InDesign has pretty much wiped the floor with Quark.

As a result of Adobe’s success, everybody is now a slave to just one suite of creative applications. And it’s not proving to be healthy. Because someone at Adobe has decided that they now have a large immobile captive audience and they are going to screw them for every penny they can.

Rallying cry

My wish is for some decent competition. Let’s see some new creative applications out there. I’ve tried Sketch as an Illustrator replacement and it doesn’t feel like a finished product to me yet. Is anyone using any apps which fit into any of the big three areas of creative applications? What do you think about this state of affairs?

I’m having to stick to Adobe for now but it’s a relationship I’ll continue to bear begrudgingly and I am looking to replacing as soon as I can or until they see the error of their ways and give me a free membership to Creative Cloud ;)

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