Adobe announce a new subscription option

For years premium design and development software has been the exclusive preserve of Adobe. Since they outmaneuvered Quark and purchased Macromedia, few tools have been able to compete with their products.

However, for all the market dominance of tools like Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign, Adobe’s recent shift to a subscription model has infuriated many loyal customers. Worryingly for the executives at Adobe, this anger has manifested itself in a search for alternate applications — despite the fact that it’s the subscription model used by many of these alternatives, that largely drove Adobe’s own business model change.

Today, Adobe have announced a new Creative Cloud subscription option that will allow teams to purchase membership of a single CC application for a single user. So, if you have a team of artworkers using Photoshop CC, you won’t need license Dreamweaver CC as well.

The new single app plan is being introduced alongside the existing team plan that provides access to the full suite. A single app plan is available for $29.99 per user, per month. That compares to $69.99 per user, per month for the existing all-inclusive license. Pre-orders are available now, with full availability beginning in the middle of August.

Based on Adobe’s previous 18-month release schedule, the new plan is approximately the same price as an upgrade license for any of the Creative Suite applications. Better news is that existing customers with licenses for CS3 or later are eligible for a reduced price of $19.99 per user, per month.

Included in the price are 20Gb of cloud storage allowing staff to easily collaborate on files. Also included is membership of Behance ProSite, although it’s debatable how useful teams will find that service.

The market for this new subscription is very definitely companies with large teams, especially with staff who spend all day in a single application, but are too small to qualify for enterprise pricing. For those companies the potential savings are clearly substantial.

The good news for smaller agencies and freelancers is that Adobe are listening to community feedback, and are actively looking for ways to make their new subscription model more palatable for everyone in the industry.

Are you a Creative Cloud subscriber? What changes do Adobe need to make in order to retain your business? Let us know in the comments.

  • Hughes

    I frequently use both Photoshop and Illustrator at work for interface design, but this still seems expensive if you’re using it for a part-time job or for hobbyists. I think $20/month would be much more reasonable. Luckily my company pays for a cloud subscription so I don’t have to worry about it.

    • Benjie

      Yes CC is definitely out of reach of hobbyists, but it’s professional software. Most professional grade applications are too expensive for hobbyists whatever the industry.

    • Sean Ryan

      Hobbyists will do what they have always done with regards to Adobe software – pirate it. I haven’t had the need to do such a thing since my company also pays for a subscription, but I would assume it is still trivial to get the trials running as full versions.

  • Christian

    “Adobe are listening to community feedback”
    Hm, not sure if they really do. There are so many people complaining about the subscription-only model but I guess a change is not going to happen. It is the money that counts for them as a company.

    • Benjie

      Well, Adobe are a publicly floated company, so they have both a moral and a legal obligation to make money. The only companies that aren’t focused on money tend to fold very quickly.

      Certainly there are people who would prefer to drop the subscription model, but I personally think it’s unfair to expect Adobe to compete with subscription services without adopting the model itself.

      I think the fact that Adobe have tried to address one of the weak points in their subscription model is a positive sign that they’re listening to feedback, but listening doesn’t mean they have to allow themselves to be dictated to.

  • Brad Shaw

    The article doesn’t make any sense. Single app subscriptions have been available since the get go for $20 and the entire suite is $49.99 a month, not $69.99 as the author claims.

    • Benjie

      Only for individuals, as the posts says this new subscription is for teams.

  • Anna

    The price for CC in Europe is even higher. Been using PS mainly for illustration but am now looking for alternatives. Fortunately there are strong candidates: Manga Studio, Painter and even Gimp are looking good to me.

  • des

    The subscription model is to Adobe what digital technology is to Kodak. It will go down as one of the monumental marketing mistakes of the modern era.

  • Benjie

    The cloud storage was highlighted in Adobe’s press release that arrived yesterday. As the new team single app subscription isn’t available until mid-August it seems reasonable to assume they’re planning to have a release version of cloud storage available by then, at least for team subscriptions.

  • Whirlwind Graphics

    It drives me crazy that I have to pay for all the apps, when I use just five of them. Adobe should offer different “suites” as they did before, and reduce the price for those of us who don’t use the huge amount of apps available on the cloud. Why should we have to pay for everything if we don’t use everything!?!?!?!?!? Grumble.

    • whazup_2200

      I think the idea is, you don’t pay for all the apps. Once you use say 5 of them, you get the others for free.

  • Pat

    I think Adobe has great products, but CC is leaving some of us in the dust. I am a young professional who works full-time at a firm, but has CS3 on my computer at home. I basically work at home on my portfolio and small projects every once in awhile, but definitely not as much as a full-time freelancer. So I can’t justify spending $50 a month for what I use at home. Would love to update, but some of us don’t need constantly updated software. We need the freedom of options!

    • jeff

      you only have to pay 20 a month if you just want to dabble in Photoshop. if you want other programs then you would have to pay over a thousand bucks to upgrade without cc. that’s almost 2 years of cc subscription. i don’t see your point.

      • Kim

        Did you notice that CS3 is now 6 years old and is still fine? Not everyone need to upgrade every two years. CC is just a rip-off.

  • Nathanial Poling

    I personally like the subscription model, I oversee a team of 4 people and it is lot better to always have them on the most up-to-date versions of all the software without all the worrying about buying upgrades and always having to fight for budget. Now I have the budget approved every year and don’t have to worry about it.

  • Marky

    I personally like the subscription model BUT my gripe is the price. Their monthly rate for individuals is much too high. I understand it comes with ALL the software, but if they’re not willing to lower the price of that, maybe a better option is to have different subscription tiers (Design Premium Tier, Web Premium Tier, etc.) with a much lower fee to gain access to a limited number of apps for that tier (similar to the boxed versions).

    Since it’s a monthly rate now, they really should DRASTICALLY lower the monthly rate. By putting a really small monthly rate (maybe like $5-8/month), they would make more money than currently do since people would feel more comfortable committing for a long-term. Right now most people don’t upgrade to every new edition, whereas with a drastically lower monthly fee, it would be an ongoing income in the long-run even from those customers.

  • A web designer & developer

    Photoshop and Illustrator are wonderful programs that I can’t live without.

    Dreamweaver and Muse, on the other hand, produce crap code that the next developer working on the project needs to spend hours cleaning up. Adobe’s code-producing programs should be nuked from orbit (it’s the only way to be sure).

    I don’t have a problem with the subscription model per se, but i loathe having to pay for Dreamweaver and Muse (which I wouldn’t be caught dead using) just to be able to access Photoshop and Illustrator. (which are indispensable)

  • Benjie — WebdesignerDepot

    That’s not the case, Illustrator CC for example will save back for compatibility with CS6, CS5, CS4, CS3, CS2, CS, 10, 9, 8, 3 and Japanese 3. So providing the originator of the file intends it to be opened by a legacy version, it can be.

    The only caveat is that CS3, for example, won’t be able to use features of CC. But that’s always been the case regardless of the subscription model.

    • Christian

      Benjie, good to know that you can save your file in previous versions. Thanks for the update.

  • JesseWallace

    “Who’s to stop Adobe from raising it to $100 a month?”

    The consumers. At that price point, I wager you’d see a decent amount of usage loss. That would cost vastly more than a yearly upgrade did at retail.

  • Rob

    If you don’t update regularly, then you miss out on certain features. For example, if the jQuery and WordPress integration into Dreamweaver. So yeah, I think I’m saving money over the long-term being that I pay $30 per month for the ‘upgrade’ price vs. the full price of a new release. I also have the master collection, so it’s not really cheap to purchase.

  • Ideatron

    I have been using Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, Dreamweaver, and pretty much everything adobe has to offer for just over a decade and i honestly never paid for it till they opened up the subscription licensing, I had always pirated or used the company copy. Now I have no problem with paying for the software just to have the latest version, Screw cable tv, I like CC.