Adobe Serves Up Creative Cloud Buffet

Blending cloud and desktop software offerings, Adobe makes the latest upgrade to its Creative Suite products available as an all-you-can-eat buffet, for a monthly fee.

David F Carr, Editor, InformationWeek Government/Healthcare

April 23, 2012

5 Min Read

The Adobe Creative Suite 6 upgrade would have been big news for designers and Web developers by itself. But by moving these desktop software products to a cloud business model, Adobe is now offering the most comprehensive master edition of that suite--valued at $2,599 for a full license--for $49.95 per month, with a one-year commitment.

Adobe Creative Cloud was announced in October, although at the time few pricing and packaging details were available. Existing Creative Suite users with a license to CS3 or later can take advantage of a limited time offer of $29.95 per month for the first year.

All this compares favorably with buying a perpetual license and paying for upgrades as they are released--although subscription pricing also means software installed on your computer will stop working if you stop paying the monthly fee. Creative Cloud might not make as much sense to developers and designers who tend to sit out some upgrades. Creative Suite 5.5 was released less than a year ago. But particularly in terms of Web development, the logic of Adobe's strategy is to provide more frequent upgrades to keep pace with the latest HTML, Cascading Style Sheets, and mobile application development technologies. Creative Cloud customers will get immediate access to the latest HTML5 development and design tools such as Adobe Muse, a visual design tool, and Adobe Edge, an animation tool.

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Adobe president and CEO Shantanu Narayen said the overall goal is to provide creative professionals with access to all the resources they need, without worrying about the details of pricing and packaging. "We're passionate addressing this gap between what the creative economy can create and what's available in the tools," he said.

Adobe said Creative Cloud and Creative Suite 6 will be available within 30 days, and it is taking pre-orders now.

A Creative Cloud subscription also means not having to decide ahead of time what tools you need for your work--nearly every design and development tool for print, Web, animation, video, or audio that Adobe makes is available to download and install on demand.

The result will be easier access to "Adobe magic," director of product marketing Heidi Voltmer said. "We want people to think more about content, and less about steps in software" used to create that content, she said.

This is much different from Adobe's traditional pricing for Creative Suite. For example, Creative Suite 6 Design Standard, $1,299 for a full license, is built around Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, making it a complete suite for visual design and desktop publishing, or for creating images for use in a Web design--but without access to the tools for laying out or scripting Web pages. Creative Cloud customers will have more freedom to experiment with Adobe tools they only use on an occasional basis. Adobe also is simplifying its packaging of Web and print design products by creating one Creative Suite 6 Design and Web Premium edition of the suite, where previously it had separate "premium" editions that emphasized either design or Web development. Most designers and developers are doing a little of both today, so that division no longer makes sense, Voltmer said.

A current user of one of the premium editions will be presented with a choice between upgrading to a CS6 perpetual license for $375 or spending about $360 over the next year at the $29.95-per-month introductory rate. At current pricing, Creative Cloud would cost about $600 per year to continue to subscribe to in future years.

Most of what Adobe is offering through Creative Cloud is not cloud software in the sense of being delivered through a Web interface. Products such as Photoshop require too much processing horsepower and access to native graphics to be replicated in that mode today, or maybe ever. However, Creative Cloud does include the new Touch Apps Adobe has created for sketching designs and assembling ideas on smart phones and tablets, then using those as prototypes for Web or print products. Creative Cloud also includes 20 gigabytes of storage, as well as tools for synchronizing applications and content across devices. Voltmer said Adobe will be looking to introduce more Web-based products over time, where it makes sense.

There will also be a team edition of Creative Cloud coming in the second half of 2012, which will deliver cloud collaboration capabilities to go along with the creative ones, at a price of $69.95 per person per month.

One other pricing variation is a month-to-month deal--which Voltmer characterized as making sense for someone who wants access to the full suite, but for a short period of time, perhaps for a specific project. That's $74.99 per month, without the one-year commitment.

Creative Cloud software downloads can function offline, but they do need to connect with the cloud service at least once a month to verify that the subscription has been renewed on schedule.

Creative Suite 6 also includes many functional improvements, such as the ability for the latest version of the Flash design to export animations that play without the use of the Flash player, using HTML5 and JavaScript. Photoshop CS6's new high-performance graphics engine, combined with "content aware" manipulation of other images, make it easier to retouch photos or add special effects (see the video from the launch event). Dreamweaver will be able to incorporate HTML5 animations and other effects, and Web designs can be designed to automatically reconfigure themselves for display on a PC, a tablet, or a phone. Rather than simply resizing content, this capability uses CSS media queries to reorder text and image elements for whatever makes sense in each format.

Follow David F. Carr on Twitter @davidfcarr. The BrainYard is @thebyard and

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About the Author(s)

David F Carr

Editor, InformationWeek Government/Healthcare

David F. Carr oversees InformationWeek's coverage of government and healthcare IT. He previously led coverage of social business and education technologies and continues to contribute in those areas. He is the editor of Social Collaboration for Dummies (Wiley, Oct. 2013) and was the social business track chair for UBM's E2 conference in 2012 and 2013. He is a frequent speaker and panel moderator at industry events. David is a former Technology Editor of Baseline Magazine and Internet World magazine and has freelanced for publications including CIO Magazine, CIO Insight, and Defense Systems. He has also worked as a web consultant and is the author of several WordPress plugins, including Facebook Tab Manager and RSVPMaker. David works from a home office in Coral Springs, Florida. Contact him at [email protected]and follow him at @davidfcarr.

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