Adobe Creative Cloud isn't cloud

Profile picture for user gonzodaddy By Den Howlett May 29, 2013
Summary:
When is a cloud service not a cloud service? Adobe seems to have hijacked 'cloud' with Creative Cloud. It has infuriated many customers in the process. That's not good.

CNet survey
Image credit: CNet

Forced change is never that good an idea unless triggered by pain yet that is exactly what Adobe seems to be requiring of its customers with the introduction of Creative Cloud.

I found out about this through one of the routine updates Adobe sends me for the products I use. Right now I am on CSS 5.5 which provides me with all the main creative tools needed for video production. If you're an Adobe fan then you know that Premiere Pro and Photoshop make a solid combination but that every few years you're going to need an upgrade. These never come cheap but that's the price you pay for (arguably) the best tools for the job.  Creative Cloud changes all that.

Now, Adobe wants its users to move to a subscription only basis. In fact that's the only way customers will be able to consume its creative products going forward. The reasons cited by Adobe all make sense - to Adobe:

When Adobe launched its Creative Cloud subscription last year, executives weren't sure how long it would offer it alongside the traditional perpetual-license sales for its software. But customer enthusiasm for the Creative Cloud, combined with the awkwardness of maintaining it alongside the slower-moving CS products, led the company to move aggressively to the subscription plan.

What they're not telling you is that 'success' is predicated on the fact that Adobe almost forces you to go that route. When you arrive on the site, the ability to upgrade an existing on premise perpetual license is so well hidden that it takes a certain tenacity to get there. What's more, the way Adobe has built the subscription model means that customers are at risk of not being able to access their content. Whatever its intentions, Adobe is making the classic mistake of kidding itself.

A survey by CNet and Jeffries among some 1,642 Adobe CS5.5 and earlier customers found a very different response. Of these, only eight percent were prepared to shift to the subscription model. Crucially, 54.3 percent didn't know. (see image)

It comes as no surprise then that there has been a considerable backlash:

I own my content. Not being able to open my files in a year because my "subscription" expired would make me a slave to Adobe for the rest of my life. Now, I will no longer own the content... ADOBE WILL! This is stupid, and disappointing.

Adobe insists that its data suggests a very different picture. It has responded to customer concerns by saying that it will allow customers to open, print and export content but will not allow editing. That won't go far enough for many who see Adobe using the subscription model as a way of ushering a substantial price rise that delivers little obvious benefit.

Adobe doesn't help itself. Calling something cloud doesn't make it cloud. In this case, Creative Cloud continues to be run on local machines. It is not a cloud service in the generally accepted sense. The only 'service' element I can discern comes from the way updates are delivered. Even that's a stretch as there are plenty of Apple services that are autoupdated. Plans include some cloud storage but that isn't going to work for those who live in areas where connections are slow. For those who can and want to take advantage of cloud storage, the 100GB limit is hardly generous when hefting video and image files.  The requirement to connect to the internet once a month to check that the subscription is still current is not a cloud service as I understand the meaning of the term. This last element mystifies me. Can't Adobe remind customers they need to renew beforehand?

Verdict

I am on the fence with this one. I take the view that major bug fixes should come as standard on the basis that software which is faulty should be fixed at the developers' expense. Upgrades should never be forced unless there is clear benefit to the customer. I have upgraded to CS6 but right now don't see that much to shout about. It seems to run much slower than CS5.5 on my MacBook Pro which has already been supercharged for video production. That is enough to leave me disappointed. I'm going back to CS5.5. There is one upside. I can download it for my dedicated Windows production machine with the existing subscription plan rather than having to pay twice. That may allow me to take advantage of the PC's dedicated graphics card but that's only needed for encoding. If it as slow as I am finding on the MacBook Pro then I shall be extremely disappointed.

Despite the backlash, Adobe seems determined to continue with its subscription course although it has said that CS6 will continue to be maintained into the future. I suppose that's something. But ain't 'cloud.'