Although I touched on this in a previous article, I thought it deserved a post all on it’s own.
Adobe, the company responsible for developing the software that is used almost universally across the print publishing business, has undergone a pretty dramatic change, and not everybody is happy about it.
In a bold move, Adobe has shifted it’s membership plan to a subscription service, meaning customers can now pay monthly fees for software access rather than a one-time payment.
Software like Photoshop and InDesign, recognizable names in the Adobe Master Suite, are now being offered through the Creative Cloud. No longer will you be able to buy an Adobe disk in a store – everything is subscription only.
This is a big deal for everyone in the publishing business, from huge corporate customers to independent designers. Number one, because the Cloud could allow for groundbreaking innovation on the corporate level. Number two, because Photoshop is so expensive, an estimated 60 percent of all Photoshop users are using pirated software, which thanks to the Cloud, has become more affordable.
So can this software take off? Adobe seems to think so, and the numbers support them: profit is going up even as designers across the internet complain, with more than 40,000 signing a Change.org petition to end the subscription service.
So why does this matter? Think crowdsourcing.
Just as print media has become more collective through the use of mobile media, with Adobe’s switch to cheaper cloud software, more people will have access to cutting-edge graphic design technology. All the pirates will finally be able to drop their ancient copy of CS2 and grab the new stuff, which I predict will change the design landscape a bit.
Consider it: for cheaper, universities and small design collectives will be able to pick up this software, and as we’ve seen with the cameras on cellphones, the more people who have technology, the more previously-untapped talent that comes forward.
I’m wary of difficulties, however. Here are some of my biggest concerns from a designer’s standpoint.
Will the frequency of upgrades increase with this service? A few hours of unannounced upgrade down-time can put even the biggest magazine’s daily flow into a tailspin. If there are going to be more upgrades, they need to be announced and easy to install.
Will third party extensions and plugins still work with the cloud Suite? These extensions connect the dots for designers, often being an integral part of the workflow. The humble BPelt plugin is a massive favorite among web graphic designers and cartoonists. Take things like BPelt off the table and you’ll lose customers.
Will anyone even buy Creative Cloud? Its already been pirated, yo ho ho. But I think this is missing the point. It’s never going to stop the hardcore hackers who download everything, but it’s going to probably sway the casual torrenter to think about going legit.
I hope as more people subscribe we start to see less knee-jerk opinions and more critical thought about this upgrade. In the meantime I’ll continue to enjoy my university’s CS6 subscription.