Along with the recent release, or planned release, of their new Creative Suite 6 applications and PhotoShop Lightroom 4 Adobe also announced a new product called Creative Cloud. As the name implies, this product offering is different to Adobe’s traditional software distribution method where users purchase individual products or suites of products as either Option 1 -- boxed software or Option 2 -- a download.
At the same time, Creative Cloud doesn’t fall into the category of most “cloud” applications that are seen in the business world where the software runs on a remote computer with your local desktop only serving as an entry device. Instead, Creative Cloud is a subscription service that allows you to download selected software to your computer and run the application on your computer (doesn’t sound that different from option 2, above, so far).
What does Creative Cloud include? All of the applications in Creative Suite CS6 (PhotoShop 6 Extended, Illustrator, Acrobat Pro, DreamWeaver, Premiere, Flash Pro, In Design and others), connectivity to Adobe TouchApps, and, in the future, PhotoShop Lightroom.
There are, however, some major differences. First, Creative Cloud includes 20 GB of storage that can be used to connect your traditional desktop applications like PhotoShop with Adobe’s touchpad applications like PhotoShop Touch. Second, while individuals who purchase traditional products typically wait about two years for major software upgrades or improvements, Adobe plans to release these upgrades to Creative Cloud users on an ongoing basis. The third big difference is the potential for long-term cost savings for some users.
Let’s assume that the first two differences described above are of minimal interest to you. The question then becomes can I save money by using Creative Cloud? And the answer is, “It depends.” For illustration purposes, I’m going to use the one year subscription price of $49.99 per month for Creative Cloud (if you choose a monthly subscription, you will have different results). Here are some examples:
Scenario 1 -- I only use PhotoShop CS6. I purchased PhotoShop several years ago and now I upgrade with each new version. I don’t us Adobe Illustrator, Acrobat Pro, or any other Adobe application. A subscription to Creative Cloud would cost $599.88 for one year or $1,199.76 for two years. Upgrading your current version of PhotoShop would cost $199.00 every two years. Even if you were using PhotoShop CS6 Extended, the upgrade cost would only be $399.00 every two years. So, in this case, it’s unlikely that you would have any savings.
Scenario 2 -- I plan to purchase PhotoShop CS6 and upgrade with each new version. I don’t us Adobe Illustrator, Acrobat Pro, or any other Adobe application. A subscription to Creative Cloud would cost you $599.88 for one year or $1,199.76 for two years. Purchasing the full version of PhotoShop will cost $699.00 and each upgrade will cost about $199.00. If you were purchase PhotoShop CS6 Extended, the initial cost will be $999.00 and each upgrade will be $399.00. In either case, some savings in year one but these savings do not extend into later years.
Scenario 3 – I use a number of different Adobe products regularly. I purchase and upgrade each of them individually. The two products I use most often are PhotoShop CS6 Extended and Illustrator. I would also like to use other products occasionally like DreamWeaver and Actobat Pro but have not purchased them. In this scenario, you could purchase PhotoShop CS6 Extended ($999) and Illustrator ($599) separately and upgrade them about every two years (PhotoShop $399; Illustrator $249) or you could purchase them as part of a suite (initial cost $1,899 or more, upgrade $375). Either way, you will save money immediately by subscribing to Creative Cloud. While the savings drop in subsequent years, you still get a good deal. What makes this even better is that you can now also use other products like DreamWeaver (purchase price $399; upgrade $125) and Acrobat Pro (purchase price $449; upgrade $199) at no added cost.
So the bottom line is the more Adobe products you use, the more attractive Creative Cloud becomes plus you get the benefits of more frequent upgrades, remote storage, and the flexibility to add more applications when you need them.