The New Adobe Cloud Distribution Model – The Good & The Bad

You might have noticed a lot of comments about Adobe in the cloud over the last few days.  What’s happening is that Adobe has launched a new way to buy Adobe software.  You can buy it direct online.  Or you can buy a card in a store (it must be activated by the till) and download the software.  I knew Adobe was making a change quite a while ago.  I knew they were very serious about it.  And I like it – for the most part.

I’m a pretty serious photographer.  I’m far from the best, but I take it seriously as a way to get away from work stuff.  But just like in work, when I shoot and process, I like to do it right.  I use Adobe software to edit my photos (all photos, even Ansel Adams’ classic b&w’s, are edited in some way).  And the serious Adobe software is expensive.

Imagine this:

  • You have a Canon 50D.
  • You buy some expensive Adobe software that allows you to convert/edit RAW photos from your camera.
  • You are a happy customer for 12-18 months.
  • Adobe launches a new version (Y) of the software but you don’t need it because version X is just fine as it is.
  • You upgrade to a Canon 60D that has a new RAW format.
  • Whoops!  Version X doesn’t have support for the new RAW format and you have to buy version Y to edit your photos.

We can blame Adobe for not upgrading version X to edit the RAWs from the 60D.  But here’s a cold reality: Adobe is a business that is there to make a profit.  If they continued to support older products then no one would ever buy the new software.  Therefore all their efforts at research and development in new versions would be loss making and Adobe would go out of business.

The switch to cloud distribution changes things.  The really serious graphics editors can subscribe to things like the Creative Cloud suite.  That’s one serious mama-jamma of a package.  Maybe you like Photoshop CS but are but off by the huge price tag?  And that nasty price tag might seem worse if you consider the short life of your product if you change camera bodies every 18-24 months.  Well, have a look at Photoshop through the cloud.  You get a modest monthly fee (from 1 month, annual agreement, and CS3+ upgrades), upgrades, and 20 GB of online storage.

That makes the cloud distribution model look very very nice.

There is a fly in the ointment.  Adobe’s currency calculator must be broken.  The price for Photoshop per month (annual commitment) is (conversion based on pricing on 6/May/2013):

  • US Dollars: $19.99
  • Euro: EUR24.59 ($32.15)
  • UK Pound: 17.58 ($27.32)

That makes the Euro price for Adobe Photoshop through the cloud:

  • 60.8% more expensive than the US price
  • 17.7% more expensive than the UK price

No taxation can be blamed for that price difference.  If retail distribution had a place here, then we could blame that … but one of the perks of cloud computing is that there is a uniform distribution cost – it’s the same data center.  Something doesn’t smell right to me.

If Adobe fixes this stinker then I’m all in favour of the switch.  Until then – I have a problem with it, just like I did with Windows Intune pricing until it was fixed in “Wave D”.

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