The Death Knell of Adobe Creative Suite

Listen up, creative folks because this one is going to hit you like a bag of bricks: Adobe announced recently that boxed editions of Creative Suite have been discontinued. That’s right, the days of the Production Premium, Master Collection, and Design Premium are over as we know it, beginning April 30th, 2013 – replaced by digital downloads and monthly subscriptions via the Adobe Creative Cloud.

According to the Adobe Global Channel Enablement Team:

[div-line]

As Adobe continues to focus on delivering world-class innovation through Adobe Creative Cloud and digital fulfillment, we will no longer offer shrink-wrapped, boxed versions of Creative Suite family or Acrobat family…

[div-line]

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, the lower up-front costs allow people to get access to the Adobe creative software more cheaply and easily than they would before. And the constant updates remove the need to spend $600 all at once for a new version update.

On the other hand, I like the idea of paying a single flat fee, owning my software license in perpetuity, and having the option to purchase an update if/when I choose. And the idea of yet another recurring monthly charge is not appealing to me. Most people already have credit cards, car payments, student loans, rent, utilities and a slew of other monthly payments that they need to deal with – without adding another $29.99 per month so you can keep using Premiere Pro.

Personal feelings aside, I think we need to look at the actual reason behind this move: revenue. Adobe is a for-profit company, and it is entirely reasonable for a manufacturer pouring millions of dollars into creating and marketing a product to expect a return on that investment. Moving to a subscription-based sales model will give Adobe a recurring source of revenue, and will -for the most part- eliminate competition from discount software resellers.

Another argument is the issue of piracy; the idea being that if people need to authenticate their software online via subscriptions, then it will be more difficult to steal. The problem with this logic is that if people are able to download the software at all, they will find a way to pirate it. A clever computer programmer with enough time on his hands will have little difficulty in finding a way to patch the software so that the authentication process is bypassed entirely.

Personally, I think the idea that “subscriptions will limit piracy” is just rhetoric, and the real reason behind the move is that Adobe wants to eliminate competition from retail stores and online resellers – both of which generally sell the software much cheaper than MSRP.

In any case, for good or ill, Adobe has announced the change and will be implementing it at the end of next month. Unless we see a huge consumer backlash (like we did when they tried to eliminate CS6 upgrade paths for CS 2/3/4 users) then this change is here to stay, whether we like it or not.

What do you think? Are you for or against Creative Suite being discontinued? Do you think Creative Cloud is the way of the future?