Digging into the Creative Cloud cost picture



blog If you’ve been following the ongoing issue of IT price hikes in Australia from multinational vendors, it will come as no surprise to you that US software giant Adobe would vastly prefer that you stop using its traditional boxed products and started subscribing instead to its subscription option, dubbed ‘Creative Cloud’. However, as local Melbourne blogger Dawnstar Australis found (we recommend you click here for his full post), Australians may end paying substantially more over the long-term to use Creative Clowd. Dawnstar looked at a discrete example involving Adobe Lightroom. His conclusions:

“… how does accessing Lightroom via Creative Cloud stack up against purchasing the box set (or digital download) outright? Well not very well as we’ll see.

At current pricing the full version of Adobe Lightroom 4 is $187 AU. To upgrade is $108. We’ll assume the upgrade cost stays the same each release (which is normally roughly the case) leaving us with a total cost of $727 AU ($187 initial cost, plus $108 multiplied by 5 years). That’s a full $472.40 AU cheaper than even our best hypothetical Creative Cloud scenario or for a direct comparison $2270 AU cheaper than the current real best case Creative Cloud scenario.”

This is what we’ve been suspecting for some time with regard to Adobe’s Creative Cloud pricing. Generally, if you sign up to this subscription option through Adobe (which has very little to do with the ‘Cloud’ per se), you’re going to pay more to use the exact same software over a long-term period, and when you do stop paying Adobe’s subscription fees to use its software, you will lose access to that software — unlike when you buy boxed copies of the software, which last forever.

In my opinion, much of the problem here is that Adobe is taking a model — subscription pricing — which usually works well at lower price points or for platforms where you’re buying something as a service, such as the email newsletter platform Mailchimp, which Delimiter uses for our newsletter, or Salesforce.com, where the company is doing all the processing work on its end — and applying it to a desktop software paradigm, and at a premium price. To put it simply, the value destruction is incredible for customers here — you pay more to get the same software, only to lose it if you cancel the subscription — and we just can’t approve of this whole model on Adobe’s part.

At the very least, the company needs to implement a system where if you sign up for a certain period of Creative Cloud subscription (say two years), then you still get to use the software you paid for at the version current when you cancelled the subscription, if you decide to cancel after that period. That way customers would not lose access to the functionality of the software they’ve paid for. Otherwise, the company’s approach just comes across as nothing short of mercenary; and ‘mercenary’ is not the kind of approach we like to see giant software vendors taking to Australians. Neither is misleading our parliamentarians.


  1. Creative cloud hasn’t been priced for individual programs, this is evident in the fact that is only 2 price points, per a program or the whole shebang. I think what they are pushing for is suit uses to use the full adobe stack. We upgraded one of our Design Standard licenses to creative cloud because we needed access to Dreamweaver for a project and that license was a couple of version behind. Now that use also has access to the Adobe media tools (media encoder, after effects, premier, sound-booth), products that we normally use competing software for as we don’t need the full functionality of premier/after effects and there are other good options for media encoding and audio editing. Because it is all packaged up we are unlikely to use these other options anymore locking us into a full adobe stack.

  2. Meh. While you’re having your rant, I’m looking at an extremely impressive suite of software that I can get for a few $’s a day – and if I want only on a monthly commitment.

    If that’s ‘mercenary’ tactics then I wish *every* company was mercenary!

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