I’ve used Adobe products since the beginning. I’m sure many of you reading this now have invested thousands — maybe tens of thousands of dollars or more on the initial product and constant upgrades as they were pushed out on a regular cycle. Whether you are an individual designer or an agency, you’ve shelled out a tonne of cash over the years. Multiple products, multiple licenses, multiple updates.
I do admit I’ve enjoyed using Adobe software over the years. Their innovation pioneering flagship products like Photoshop (1992) and Illustrator (1987) were impressive. How they worked together so seamlessly with Apple Macintosh and introduced User Interface and design tools that set the standard convention for all subsequent software was amazing. It seemed like Utopia for us as designers, photographers, digital creators.
Yes, Adobe has a monopoly on the digital design software industry. It’s interesting how they helped to drive the industry and became a ubiquitous brand (Just Photoshop it!). It’s such an industry wide standard that publishers, printers, photography and video production companies have invested fortunes in their infrastructure for smooth operations and processes. With this infrastructure in place, Adobe was in the advantageous position to change their model so that users were forced (yes forced) to buy in to their new Creative Cloud subscription model. It’s a capitalist’s dream. And you can’t do anything about it but drink the Kool-aid. Or can you?
Now, it might seem to make sense to “rent” software so you always have the latest version, you get fancy new updates and features, everything is digital, and they all work together (sometimes), especially with the fast delivery via Internet and of course your monthly payment sent off just as quickly. It’s a fantastic model that Adobe rolled out in May 2013. Except it’s not. It feels like a bait & switch. No matter how I try to accept this — it feels dirty. Adobe has increased the price twice for me since 2013. I currently pay $82.78 CA per month (or $994 annually). And now, Adobe is trying to stop you from using anything but their “latest & greatest” Creative Cloud versions. Not an issue for me but I can see how that is invasive for others who don’t want to be forced to pay. And I don’t agree with how they do things.
I understand that I use Adobe products to help my business make money. But I also like choice and fairness. I don’t see that here. I am a one person shop that uses these products infrequently. I’m starting to move more into marketing strategy and less design work — but I will always be a creator, and will always require tools to create. I do use several of the Adobe product line but as I said, it depends on project type or how busy I am. As a previous agency owner I paid for multiple licensed workstations but it was a different scenario. I was billing out for constant work being done. So, the all or nothing plan is not really working for me now. Why is there no plan for my situation?
I did try to disconnect from the “Creative Cloud” last year. I actually stopped using Adobe products for 3 months to see if I could make it work. It was an exciting feeling to try to break free. A challenge that I reveled in and had hope for the underdogs vying for a foothold in this space dominated by the Adobe giant. I researched and demo’d alternative products which seem to be the direction I’m heading now the more I read about the approach Adobe is taking and with the lack of attention to basic features or UI issues we’ve struggled with for years. For the amount of money the user base pays and the amount of revenue Adobe makes, all this software should be *perfect* with no bugs and all issues addressed.
All my files are formatted in Adobe native file formats. The biggest issue is format portability. You can’t save your files in any Adobe native formats from any other software. Adobe has some proprietary features that cannot be duplicated in other software due to patents and legal copyrights. As a consolation you can save as .eps but it is pretty generic and basically was my issue with transitioning away from the CC.
It’s a terrible feeling being chained to Adobe. If I had an idea this was going to happen I might have tried to prepare, except for the fact I didn’t see it coming and there were no real professional alternatives available. There is a new alternative product that will open a PSD or AI file which is fantastic (not always perfect due to the proprietary features of AI or PSD), but the file cannot be saved back to Adobe format. I’m talking PS and AI here mostly as they should be the most transportable and sharable.
This all further supports that Adobe has a monopoly on this industry. Why is the government not stepping in to facilitate steps to create a fair playing field for other software companies to compete? Why are there no new regulations to allow for sharable formats? Why does the price keep increasing at an unrealistic rate?
And further, if you want to keep your customers Adobe, how about offering alternative packages and fair pricing? To be frank, you no longer care about your users — who made you what you are and which ironically seemed to be your reason for being. Now it is all about money and how much you can take. And don’t get too comfortable because people are watching and there’s always someone ready to step up to compete. Things might not be the same 20 or 30 years from now…remember Quark Xpress?
Where do we go now?
I will leave these thoughts with you and would love to hear your comments. In the meantime I’m already planning my disconnect *again* and will share my choice list of alternative software with you soon.