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About Adobe's Creative Cloud

Adobe has shifted to a subscription model, which means, with a few exceptions (Lightroom being one, at the moment), you will no longer be able to "buy" applications outright. Instead, you will subscribe to them, and pay a monthly fee.

Image - Photoshop Layer Example

The logic behind this is purely business driven; with each product version they release for their arsenal of digital tools, it's hit or miss whether people will upgrade to the latest version, and that means it's difficult, if not impossible, to predict revenues. So, they came up with the subscription-based model, which should allow them to track revenues more accurately, and not have large swings in the money they generate. Great for shareholders, but what about you?

First, let me explain that the subscription model is kind of strange; it's "all or one", essentially. At the top tier, or "Creative Cloud complete plan", for $50 a month you can have access to pretty much every professional application Adobe offers, which is a great deal for serious digital media professionals. If you use three or more of Adobe's applications regularly, this is awesome news.

Let's get back to you, assuming you're not using three or more Adobe products. In fact, let's assume, as a photographer, that you only want/need Photoshop and Lightroom. In your case, it's probably perfect to subscribe to the "Single-app plan", which costs only $20 a month. The shift to a subscription-based model is great for you, because instead of having to shell-out roughly $600 (or more) at a single pop, and then another roughly $300 every 18 months or so, when a new version comes out, you can get the latest version of Photoshop right now for only $20 a month, with a 1-year committment!

This is a really good deal for the "average user", because it puts Photoshop firmly into their reach. Another fantastic thing about getting Photoshop through the Creative Cloud is that you'll never have to pay a hefty upgrade fee, again; Creative Cloud applications are always kept up-to-date (provided you connect to the Internet once in a while), all for the same $20 a month.

Some quick math will show you that if you bought Photoshop for $600, and purchased one full-upgrade at around $300, within an 18-month period, you would have paid $900, in two large chunks! However, in that same 18-month period, with Photoshop CC, you would have paid just $360. The savings and ability to pay in smaller increments make this a pretty attractive deal.

So, you want Lightroom, too? That's no problem. Lightroom will, as of this writing, continue to be offered as a "stand-alone" product, which you buy a license to. Once you purchase Lightroom, then each major upgrade costs you about $80, and they launch about every 18 months.

One myth is that you need always be connected to the Internet to use the Creative Cloud. This is not true. You certainly need to connect to install the CC, and to download your chosen application(s), but once you're registered, you don't have to connect each time you wish to use Photoshop, or which ever single application you choose, and when you do connect, your application will be updated, automatically. If you've ever dealt with installing a major upgrade to Photoshop, this seemingly small improvement is gigantic!

I believe Adobe is going in the right direction, by making Photoshop more accessible, but they still need to tweak the system a bit. The two tier system is a little too disparate, and I think there needs to be something in the middle, like a two-application version, or a "Photographer Version", which comes with Lightroom and Photoshop, for $25 a month, for example.

You can do some more research and subscribe by visiting Adobe's buying guide.

What do you think? Use the contact form to let me know!