Adobe moves to subscription model with Creative Suite 5.5

Adobe logoAdobe has announced version 5.5 of all its major software suites for creative professionals. The bulk of upgrades are related to Web, mobile and digital content publishing and, while not every product in the suites are being updated, all suites are touched by the updates. Most notably, with Adobe Creative Suite 5.5, the company is introducing a new subscription payment model that it hopes will make it easier for people wary of the suite's massive price tags.

The apps getting a 5.5 designation are Indesign, Dreamweaver, Flash and its variants, Premiere Pro, After Effects, Audition and Media Encoder. These .5 releases will become increasingly regular with a 24-month upgrade cycle for full 1.0 upgrades. With the heavy emphasis on new media in the 5.5 release, Adobe picked an appropriate set of tools to launch this midcycle update, as phone models, e-book readers, and other Web trends are moving too fast to keep customer needs addressed with an biennial upgrade cycle.

Specifics of each update are too numerous to cover here but some of the more notable things include Indesign’s improved EPUB3 authoring features and embedded HTML5 movie content for iBooks as well as Dreamweaver CS 5.5’s new HTML5 markup tools. Despite the PR mortar fire between Adobe and Apple, Adobe appears to be showing a strong commitment to HTML5 authoring for both Web and embedded iOS development. Now that Apple has lifted the contentious ban on cross-compilers, Flash is back to being pushed as the one-stop development environment for creatives who need to deploy to a variety of platforms without getting their berets in a tussle writing code.

The biggest news with this update is arguably the new subscription payment model. While products can still be bought individually or in suites, customers can now opt for license usage on a monthly basis. Some example plans are Photoshop (not Extended Edition, retail $699) for $35/month, Design Premium Suite ($1,899 retail) for $95 per month, and CS 5.5 Master Collection ($2,599 retail) for US$129 per month. Those prices are for a yearly commitment—prices are higher without a yearly commitment.

Some people may balk at “renting” Photoshop, but as someone who paid $3,500 just to get access to the $750 yearly fee to the Autodesk Maya subscription, I can tell you those prices with no up-front cost seem very reasonable. It doesn't quite function as a payment plan towards the full price, but you can get upgrade pricing on new versions if you do subscribe. "The subscription offering is not a payment plan, so you would not be able to simply pay off the remainder of a suite’s or application’s price if you’ve owned a subscription for a certain amount of time," an Adobe spokesperson told Ars. "However, a customer is eligible to pay upgrade pricing for a new version of a Suite or application if they’ve completed a one-year subscription plan, or a six month monthly subscription plan."

It’s not hard to imagine what was Adobe’s motivation for the new pricing model. With the US economy still in rough shape, students entering a market of fewer jobs, and an increasing user base in developing economies like India and China, a cheaper entry point is needed. A proliferation of hungry developers making cheap, quality apps like Pixelmator and the increased popularity of direct distribution channels are also likely setting off some alarm bells at Adobe.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: Adobe

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