If you're a designer on Twitter, it was hard to miss the promoted tweets from @CreativeSuite on Monday, announcing new CS5.5. Say what? That's right CS5.5. Apparently upgrades every other year were not enough, so now there's a 'half' upgrade each year in order to 'keep creatives at the forefront of technology'—oh, and to make some more money too. Did we mention that part?
Adobe's new CS5.5 is at least a cheaper upgrade than it is to a 'full' version. The CS5.5 Design Premium is $399, if you're upgrading from CS4 it's $650. I can't remember what the price was to upgrade from CS4 to CS5 was, but I think it was around $500—maybe $600. (If you have better info on that number, please leave a comment or email me, thanks!) CS updates about every 1 1/2 years, so if you buy every version, you previously would have spent about $330-$400 per year, now you'd spend more like $500-$600 per year (assuming CS6 still releases less than a year from now). This isn't going to be detrimental to agencies, most small and mid-sized agencies (I'm not as sure about the big ones) don't update every version as it is. The people this is going to hurt is the printers—they need to have the latest and greatest because at least one of their clients is going to upgrade when the newest CS version comes out and they'll expect their printer to be compatible. They'll pretty much have to spend the extra dough.
But fear not, Adobe now has a subscription service! That should be more economical, no?
Adobe's new subscription services guarantee you the latest software at no extra charge—as long as your subscription remains active. My first thought was 'Finally! A way for designers to have affordable access to professional programs on their personal computers too!' It's a beautiful idea in theory—not so much when you crunch the numbers.
Adobe's subscriptions prices and plans are as follows:
There are two plans, the yearly plan, which requires a one year contract at a time, or the month-to-month plan. Is it just me or are these ridiculously overpriced?
Let's stick with the Creative Suite Design Premium (CSDP) package I discussed at the beginning of the post as our reference point. While the initial upstart cost for CSDP is $1900, the upgrades are like $400-$700 depending on how many generations you skipped in between, but let's just say you like to be on the cutting edge and want the latest and greatest software when it comes out. If Adobe came out with a new version every year, your upgrade costs would be $400 per year. On the one year subscription plan you're paying $1140 per year. WHOA. That's $740 more per year.
But wait, you say, you're not including that hefty $1900 initial software investment—well, let's crunch those numbers shall we? Let's take a three year period where you purchase the software and update twice (that would be assuming a new release once a year—more than that is just overkill) That's $1900+$400+$400=$2700. Over that same three year period, you'd spend $3420 on the subscription service and your access to the program ceases as soon as you're not paying anymore! How is that economical? I can see it only if you didn't own CS originally and you knew you'd only use if for one year or if you couldn't afford the initial start up cost—but seriously, at these prices, it's well worth it to ante up initially and own the software.
The month-to-month subscription is a little different. It allows you be a little more flexible. Maybe you're a sporadic freelancer who just needs the programs from time to time. The trouble is, at least for the standard design programs, it's still not cost effective unless subscribing only a couple of months a year, though I can see the month-to-month subscriptions useful when you need one program, like Premiere or AfterEffects, for just one short term project. The downside there is pretty much all of Adobe's products have a high learning curve so it's going to take you awhile to use them well anyway. Then once you're not subscribing, my guess is you no longer can open those files—which could be highly annoying.
I see extremely little use for Adobe's new subscription program. It's an interesting idea for design software, but as it stands right now, there is little financial incentive to go that route. Meanwhile, the 'half' upgrade software seems little more than a blatant attempt to suck more money from designers.
Am I missing something here? What do you think?