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An Open Letter To Adobe Systems from Scott Kelby about Creative Suite pricing

Explorer ,
Nov 21, 2011 Nov 21, 2011

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Community Expert ,
Dec 06, 2011 Dec 06, 2011

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For me, it's not so much the priciple of the change, it's the lack of funds.

<Homer Simpson> Stupid economy! </Homer Simpson>

I suppose, if I do get the CS5.5 upgrade, but don't fall into the grace period, I'd still have like two years to get the upgrade to CS6.0 before I'd be SOL about upgrading to CS7.0. Maybe I'll win the Lotto or something.

I wonder how this will play out with Adobe's European customers, as they already pay much more than Americans do.

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Contributor ,
Dec 21, 2011 Dec 21, 2011

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Am I missing something here, can't everyone do what we intend to do, wait for CS6 to be announced, then immediatly upgrade your copies of CS3 or CS4 to CS5.5, and then claim you're free upgrade to CS6, adobe have always offered a grace period in the past and there is no reason to think they won't this time. You would be mad to take the 20% offer now when you could get a free upgrade in a few months time

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Community Expert ,
Dec 21, 2011 Dec 21, 2011

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wait for CS6 to be announced, then immediatly upgrade your copies of CS3 or CS4 to CS5.5, and then claim you're free upgrade to CS6

I wonder if Adobe have already factored that into their CS6 marketing.

It's a wise strategy but will only apply to the next upgrade cycle (CS2/3/4 > CS5.5 paid for upgrade during grace period after CS6 is announced > CS6 free upgrade).

After that, it's on to the benign subscription model for perpetual licenses - a.k.a. must upgrade every cycle to enjoy upgrade pricing.

adobe have always offered a grace period in the past and there is no reason to think they won't this time.

One caveat I can think of is that no-one saw the end of the "3 versions back" policy coming so who knows what they'll change about the traditional grace period and when?

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Contributor ,
Dec 21, 2011 Dec 21, 2011

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Thats a fair point, but removing the grace period entirly would be hugely unpopular and unfair, especially to brand new customers who have just bought CS5.5 days or weeks before CS6 comes out.

I can see the advantage of one version back upgrades, it forces everyone to be on the latest version at some point in the 2 year lifecycle of each version, or face having to re-pay the full purchase price to upgrade, and for me trying to manage a company that currently runs 4 different versions of CS that would be a huge advantage, but then again we haven't skipped versions for no reason there simply hasn't been enough cash to upgrade 10 copies every 12 -18 months, and skipping has alowed us to invest in other needed software such as a font server, I just fear that if we know we have to upgrade every 2 years, all our software budget will go on that.

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Participant ,
Dec 21, 2011 Dec 21, 2011

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There's no advantage to the end user in having Adobe hang a 1 version back only upgrade policy on his perptetual license.

The only advantage anyone could possibly have in this is Adobe (more money by forcing people to upgrade more frequently). Unfortunately for Adobe this strategy could very easily back-fire on the company. It's not cheap to upgrade a Creative Suite, especially if you have one of the "Premium" suites or Master Collection. I know some people who have already made up their minds to just stay put with what they have for the forseeable future. They plan to skip another 1 or 2 versions or even more than that until whatever suite they want has enough improvements that make it worth paying full price for a new perpetual license.

Not everyone needs the very latest versions of Adobe software to be productive. I only upgraded from CS3 to CS5.5 because I had to (my new Win7 64 PC wouldn't run the old stuff properly). Service bureaus and some other outfits need to constantly upgrade. If you're a freelance graphic designer you only need to buy what helps you get your work done productively.

One other thing I fear in this move to steer Adobe customers to "the cloud," away from perpetual licenses and having a monthly bill that never stops: Adobe drops or limits legacy file support for older versions of its applications. Plenty of Final Cut Pro users were furious at Apple for what they did with the latest version of FCP, particularly its lack of support for opening projects saved in older versions of FCP and not being able to save back to any of those versions either. But what happened? It doesn't look like much. It looks as though those Apple FCP users are just going to take it. The almighty Apple can do whatever it likes. Adobe could pull the the rug out from under legacy Adobe app users by doing something similar.

As for having different versions of CS apps in a shop, that's no big deal. Users just have to get in the habit of saving files in a older/legacy format supported by all the machines in the shop. I routinely save Illustrator files down to CS2 or CS3 format even though I have CS5.1. And if I forget, it's no big deal to just save a copy. It's more expensive to upgrade every machine to the latest version. On top of that some of the older computers might not even run it.

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Contributor ,
Dec 21, 2011 Dec 21, 2011

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What I mean by advantage is, when you have InDesign only saving back one version then it is an advantage when everyone is within one version of each other, going from Indesign CS5 to CS3 is a massive pain, and its not just your own copies you need to deal with, when you have files coming in from other sources ... I'm not saying they should have done this, I'm just saying I can see a potential advantage.. Like you we are quite happy on CS3, its only the fact that we need to buy new computers (and the fact CS3 is no longer available) that has lead to fragmentation

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Participant ,
Dec 21, 2011 Dec 21, 2011

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When you're dealing with customer submitted art files hardly anything is simple (and the "art" in the files is hardly ever acceptable either). Application versions are just one of the possible headaches, and I think one of the easier headaches to manage. Missing fonts, raster imagery of unacceptable resolution, logos and graphics that turned out not to be vector-based and color profile issues are items that give me bigger trouble.

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LEGEND ,
Dec 21, 2011 Dec 21, 2011

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Certainly not everyone needs the same things nor has the same business models, but it seems to me that Adobe IS adding value to each new release, at least of Photoshop... 

In my world, it's been a good bit more value than the upgrade price.

I have personally saved many hours of work using the Content Aware Fill feature alone, time with Puppet Warp - e.g., in tidying up curvature in panoramas, which by the way were painless because Photomerge works better than ever.  Certainly (with tweaking of settings and development of my own new defaults) the 2010 process in Camera Raw is giving me better results than before from the same camera equipment, meaning I didn't have to put more money into more megapixels just yet.  Refine Edge has been another time saver. 

As always, it takes some finesse to leverage the new features into practical gains, but these features are real, not just window dressing.

-Noel

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Explorer ,
Dec 22, 2011 Dec 22, 2011

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Unfortunately, this issue is more broad than merely Photoshop.  At $200, Photoshop upgrades are a relatively minor expenditure at best, even for a modest business.  Heck, a pair of socks can cost more than that.  People who use the suites, particularly the Master Collection, are being asked to spend a heck of a lot more at extremely short-notice, or risk losing the ability to upgrade later (at least according to everything Adobe has said thus far).  As a CS3 user, I can either pay about $1150 now with the paltry 20% discount, closer to $1500 at some point in the next few months if Adobe hasn't announced some alteration or addendum to this new upgrade model, or full price yet again for the CS6 Master Collection (around $2600) with no upgrade benefit at all.

What rubs me the wrong way about this is the timing, almost exclusively.  The shift itself would be reasonable had it been announced upon the release of CS5, giving everyone fair warning and the chance to buy CS5 and actually get a couple years use out of it.  But timing it now as they did, in conjunction with a tiny discount, Adobe is essentially exploiting their users and attempting to use this situation to push a few more copies of CS5.5 off the shelves before it's replaced in a few months.  The exploitation is what bothers me, rather than the new upgrade policy itself.  If Adobe sticks to their 24 month cycle, then IMO it's not unreasonable to ask their users to upgrade every 2 years (with the option to upgrade to the .5 version each year, if someone is the type to just have to have the latest version).  The entire reason I myself adopted a version (or two) skipping policy is because every 12 months was just too often to justify upgrading the full Master Collection.  Every 24 months is acceptable, provided Adobe alters this upgrade policy in such a way as to not exploit current users by forcing them to make a purchase they never intended in order to qualify for an upgrade they were counting on being eligible for without said purchase.

So if Adobe maintains their policy of a grace period after CS6 is announced, allowing CS2/3/4 users to upgrade to CS5.5 and receive a free CS6 upgrade upon its release, then I plan to do that and then proceed to upgrade every 24 months, as required.  If instead they choose to forgo the grace period, or some other mitigating element to make this new upgrade policy easier to transition in to, I'll begin looking for alternative software.

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Contributor ,
Dec 22, 2011 Dec 22, 2011

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Yeah its is very cynical on their part, pushing people to upgrade to a version that they know only has a few months of life left, it does make me a little concerned about the grace period as well, I mean all the people who are taking the 20% offer now are clearly only doing it as an upgrade path, and so if there is a grace period those upgraders are going to feel conned.

I think it will just lead to more piracy, because people are gonna feel very bitter.

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Enthusiast ,
Dec 22, 2011 Dec 22, 2011

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At $200... Heck, a pair of socks can cost more than that.

I strongly recommend you look for somewhere else to buy socks. 

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Explorer ,
Dec 22, 2011 Dec 22, 2011

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lol, believe me, I wasn't referring to any socks I've ever bought.  But the point remains; $200 isn't a heck of a lot to spend on a piece of software every 2 years; or even every year.  It's easy enough to spend the same amount, or more, on something like a meal in an expensive enough restaurant, or even items like socks or a tie in high-end shops.  While those latter things aren't within the budgets for most people, I do think $200 for an entire year's (or 2) use of a useful application is fairly inexpensive.  Especially for a business, which should be able to absorb the cost better than an individual.

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Community Expert ,
Jan 11, 2012 Jan 11, 2012

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Participant ,
Jan 11, 2012 Jan 11, 2012

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That's good news at least in some respect. However, it doesn't permanently restore the previous "3 versions back" upgrade policy. Users of the CS3 and CS4 generation of suites will have until December 31, 2012 to upgrade to CS6 (once it becomes available around the middle of the year). The whole "1 and done" deal may be restored when 2013 arrives.

In my own humble opinion, anyone with a valid Creative Suite license (read: purchased legally) should be able to upgrade to the latest version. I don't like the staggered prices based on the previous version the user owns. Prior to the introduction of the "CS" model, Adobe's individual products all carred a flat upgrade price. If someone was upgrading from Photoshop 2.5 to version 7 he would have paid the same price as another user going from Photoshop 6 to 7. It didn't matter.

The 3 versions back policy can result in some pretty steep upgrade pricing for those who waited to upgrade, but it's better than no deal at all. A 1 and done model might encourage people to just sit on a given perpetual license for a very long time, perhaps several years or more, before buying another full version license when the product improved to a point they thought the purchase was worth it. I don't think Adobe wants that. It could result in a lot of lost customers and open big opportunties for competitors.

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Community Expert ,
Jan 11, 2012 Jan 11, 2012

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Bob the Sign Guy wrote:

I don't like the staggered prices based on the previous version the user owns. Prior to the introduction of the "CS" model, Adobe's individual products all carred a flat upgrade price. If someone was upgrading from Photoshop 2.5 to version 7 he would have paid the same price as another user going from Photoshop 6 to 7. It didn't matter.

Thing is, it did matter to faithful Adobe users who upgraded every, or every other, upgrade cycle, paying the same upgrade price as Photoshop 2.5 users every time.

Tiered upgrade pricing encourages prompt upgrading (from Adobe's POV) and rewards loyalty (from end users POV).

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Community Expert ,
Jan 11, 2012 Jan 11, 2012

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Quote from the page ProDesignTools linked to: 

»Therefore, we’re pleased to announce that we will offer special introductory upgrade pricing on Creative Suite 6 to our customers who own CS3 or CS4.«

What sincerity-level do any of you detect in the word »pleased« here?

Anyway: I am pleasantly surprised that Adobe revised the decision (until »December 31, 2012« at least).

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Community Expert ,
Jan 12, 2012 Jan 12, 2012

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c.pfaffenbichler wrote:

What sincerity-level do any of you detect in the word »pleased« here?

Pleased as in "oh, please"...

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Enthusiast ,
Jan 12, 2012 Jan 12, 2012

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Well I'm beginning to think that 'those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it'.

I remember that Quark used to charge exorbitant upgrades prices and would charge you full price if you missed an upgrade. Where is Quark now? Adobe snuck under that wire with their generous upgrade policies and stole their thunder as it were. Now that Adobe is this humongous company they feel they can do what they want.

As an independent, these pricing schedules are getting out of hand for me. The thing is that smaller designers will go towards Corel as the substitute, because that is what they can afford. While CorelDraw is not a full option to the Adobe CS line, Corel probably will see a place to increase their product line and take away small business clients away from Adobe. Corel Photo Paint is a worthy alternative to Photoshop, it is just that Adobe is willing to ignore other companies and rest on its seats (THH).

I use both product lines so I can see Corel as a future adversary, while others may not.

Adobe will lose small businesses that cannot afford to compete with larger companies. The 'cloud' is not an option for us.

Just the way it is. I have CS 5.5, cannot afford to upgrade to CS6, so you can bet that I will not be able to afford full price for CS 7.

Adobe can do what it wants as this huge behemoth, I just won't be there in the future.

Man, do I ever love Painter. PS still sucks at implementing that.

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Valorous Hero ,
Jan 12, 2012 Jan 12, 2012

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Bart Cross wrote:

...Where is Quark now?...

Desperate for revenue and breaking from their limited upgrade window to allow any previous version to upgrade to QXP9 (offer expired a couple weeks ago). The same can happen with Adobe if users don't bite at this new upgrade plan.

http://www.quark.com/images/quarkstore/onepricebanner.jpg

I can't say that history will repeat in this way for Adobe. The perpetual license is doomed. But subscriptions (either monthly or forced in this 1-version back upgrade policy) are not the only growing license model. There is a growing array of great GPL software.

http://www.darktable.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/screenshot-2-200x100.png

Adobe is going to need to compete with a growing market by actually offering valuable products/services, instead of forcing us to rent software with few new trinkets.

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Engaged ,
Jan 12, 2012 Jan 12, 2012

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Well, it's still pretty damn good despite the trinkets ploy. Again, look at what others charge for their flagship line. Inventor from AutoDesk, for instance.

So long as I don't upgrade my cameras beyond what I can run ib CS5, I don't actually need to go farther. So, supposing I actually need a new tool from CS7, for a project for which I am billing and only that project. Renting for a couple of months is an attractive option. I already do that with hardware. I doubt I will ever buy a 1000mm Nikon tele, but I certainly can afford to rent it.

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Community Expert ,
Jan 12, 2012 Jan 12, 2012

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Wow, that DarkTable sofware reminds me something, but I can't put my finger on it... Are Lightroom Flourishes compatible with theirs? They seem to have different tools, but also to like Phil Clevenger's work...

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Participant ,
Jan 12, 2012 Jan 12, 2012

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Bart Cross wrote:

As an independent, these pricing schedules are getting out of hand for me. The thing is that smaller designers will go towards Corel as the substitute, because that is what they can afford. While CorelDraw is not a full option to the Adobe CS line, Corel probably will see a place to increase their product line and take away small business clients away from Adobe. Corel Photo Paint is a worthy alternative to Photoshop, it is just that Adobe is willing to ignore other companies and rest on its seats (THH).

It's not only Corel. Open source alternatives are improving. The Gimp is a free alternative to Photoshop. Inkscape is a free alternative to Illustrator. They're not as good as Adobe's products, but they're a lot better than nothing for budding amateurs and others trying to do design work on a meager budget.

CorelDRAW was very dominant on the Windows platform through much of the 1990s. For awhile it was the only drawing application worth a hoot on the Windows platform. Adobe didn't do much with Illustrator for Windows during the early to mid 1990s. By the time Illustrator 7 shipped, both Corel and Freehand were enjoying big leads.

The sign industry is not all that big in terms of the overall advertising industry, but visit just about any sign shop and you'll find Corel running on at least one or more computers. Sign companies are largely Windows-based due to a lot of specialized software for vinyl cutters and routing tables appearing on MS-DOS and Windows first. There's a lot of CAD-style roots in that. Over the past 10 years many sign companies have added Photoshop and Illustrator for large format printing purposes, like creating vehicle wraps. After Effects is great for making motion graphics for LED-based electronic variable message centers (those "jumbotron" things). CorelDRAW was weak in terms of its color handling. But Corel introduced a much improved color engine in version X5.

I have been using both CorelDRAW and Adobe Illustrator since the early 1990s. Both have their own unique strengths and weaknesses. If Adobe gets too demanding with its upgrade pricing I know a lot of sign companies may just go back to just using Corel in conjunction with their industry specific sign making applications. Corel is trying to improve Draw and Photo Paint enough so those companies can do just that.

Hudechrome wrote:

Well, it's still pretty damn good despite the trinkets ploy. Again, look at what others charge for their flagship line. Inventor from AutoDesk, for instance.

That's an apples to oranges comparison. Inventor isn't really a "flagship" product for Autodesk. The AutoCAD line, Maya, 3ds MAX, Revit and the Flame product line are all in higher end categories, some very high end and very industry specific. Autodesk doesn't have a product line that competes head to head with Adobe's mainstream products. Likewise Autodesk's software is typically far more expensive and it has to be far more expensive since it is serving a much smaller number of (mostly) professional users.

I think comparisons between CorelDRAW's suite and Adobe's design standard or design premium suites are appropriate. It's somewhat fair to compare Adobe's Production Premium suite to Apple's Final Cut Pro or Sony Vegas. The dualing product suites need to have at least a couple or more similar applications to make price and feature comparisons logical.

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Engaged ,
Jan 12, 2012 Jan 12, 2012

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LATEST

Ok, flagship lines, not line.

It obviously is not a direct comparison to each other, but is a comparison about what to expect to pay for top performers in software. There are many other examples, and in the final analysis, we have gotten our money's worth.

I think we have had a good ride with Photoshop, and if we want more than trinkets, be ready to pay for it.

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Explorer ,
Jan 11, 2012 Jan 11, 2012

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Props to Adobe for listening to its customers.  Looks like I'll be upgrading to CS6 after all.  I hope too many people didn't rush to buy CS5.5 last month, just for that 20% discount (though I see it's still in effect even now, even though it was supposed to end with the old year).

Yes, it does still seem as if Adobe is planning to alter the upgrade policy again later, but at least this way they're allowing customers to go into the new situation with their eyes open.  And as I've said before, if Adobe sticks to its ~24 month cycle for new major releases then I don't see what they plan to do as being nearly as objectionable as it would be otherwise (every 12 months is too often to upgrade software is expensive as the Master Collection, IMO).  Assuming the "1 version back" policy is instituded for CS7, people who buy CS6 this year have a theoretical 4 year window in which they don't need to spend any more money (assuming they don't mind going without CS7 during the majority of its lifetime; they could purchase it shortly before CS8 comes out, and then have another 2 years before deciding what to do about CS9).

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Community Expert ,
Jan 11, 2012 Jan 11, 2012

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> Props to Adobe for listening to its customers.  Looks like I'll be upgrading to CS6 after all.  I hope too many people didn't rush to buy CS5.5 last month, just for that 20% discount (though I see it's still in effect even now, even though it was supposed to end with the old year).

I noticed that too. I currently have 5.5 in my Adobe shopping cart. I figured I'd keep it there until March 15, and then pull the trigger, on the chance I'd fall into the "grace period", you know, if you bought less than xxx ago, get the new one free.

I 've been having a tough time justifying buying into every new version of the entire suite, especially when only some of the apps have compelling new features. I'm so glad I can again skip a version like I've been, and then have a couple of years until I have to confront the issue again.

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