I saw loads of questions and comments all over the Web yesterday about Adobe’s announcements. The new features part got lots of love. Adobe’s new subscription-only plan for their Creative Cloud software, not so much (and that’s being kind), so I thought I’d do a quick Q&A giving my take on it all.

Q. Scott, should I be freaking out?
A. Absolutely not. I saw a lot of nasty comments yesterday (I’m sure you did, too), but a lot of what I read was based on mis-information or was just plain wrong. 

Q. Can you give me an example?
A. Sure. I read a bunch of people in forums claiming that Adobe isn’t going to release any bug fixes for Photoshop CS6. Actually, Adobe said just the opposite. They said they would be updating CS6 with bug fixes as necessary — they’re just not adding any new features (well, technically they did go back to CS6 and add a major new feature —- they added the HiDPI support for computers with high dpi displays, like the Retina display on the MacBook Pro, but you know what I mean).

Q. So, Adobe isn’t going to add any new features to Photoshop CS6?
A. Um…no, but that’s not new. I don’t remember Adobe ever going back and adding new features to a previous version of Photoshop once a new version has been announced. 

Q. So they announced a new version of Photoshop?
A. Yup. It’s called Photoshop CC (for Creative Cloud), and it’s got a bunch of new features, and it’s the 2nd feature update they’ve issued for the Creative Cloud. 

Q. I heard we have to subscribe to get these new features. Is that true?
A. Yup. The new features aren’t being added to the old version of Photoshop (CS6), so to get the new features you’ll need to subscribe. 

Q. So I have to pay $50 a month to get these new features!!!!
A. Nope. For some reason, everyone is acting like you have to subscribe to the complete Creative Cloud program to get the new features in Photoshop. Actually you subscribe to just Photoshop by itself for $19.95 a month (Adobe calls this a “Single App subscription”). By the way, this $19.95 Photoshop-only subscription thing isn’t new (it just seems like nobody really knows about it, so everybody’s all focused on the $50-a-month thing). 

Q. But Photoshop CS6 came out just over a year ago. Now I have to shell out $20 a month?
A. Nope — they have a discount for folks who already bought CS6 (or CS5, CS4 even back to CS3) — they get a one-year intro-deal on a Photoshop CC subscription for just $10 a month and they get all the new features (along with any new ones that are released, for as long as they’re subscribed). 

Q. So then I don’t actually have to pay $50 a month for Photoshop?
A. That’s right — the $49.95 monthly subscription is only if you want the full Creative Cloud, which gives you all the Creative Suite Master Collection Applications as well, like InDesign, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, After Effects, Muse, and on and on, plus a bunch of new Cloud-based services.

Q. Yeah, but if I bought CS6 and now I want to move to the full-blown Cloud, I’m hosed right? 
A. I
f you bought CS6 and want to move up to the complete Creative Cloud, there’s a deal where you can get the whole shebang for just $19.95 a month (same price as just Photoshop alone, but you have to already be a  CS6 user to qualify). Here’s a link to the page where I found it.

Q. But I’m a photographer and I only use Photoshop. This doesn’t sound like a very good deal.
A. If all you use is Photoshop, I agree, and I wouldn’t get the complete $49.95 monthly Creative Cloud subscription — I’d just go with the $20 Photoshop-only monthly subscription instead. 

Q. What if I use Photoshop and Lightroom. Is it a good deal then?
A. I think it will be before too long (Adobe sneak peeked some cool stuff for photographers on “The Grid” last week), but honestly right now there’s not a really strong case for photographers with the complete Creative Cloud. For example, you could buy the Lightroom 5 upgrade for $79 (I’m assuming it’ll be $79 ’cause that’s what it cost last tim), and then if you’re already a Photoshop user using anything from Photoshop CS3 to CS6, just spend the $10 a month on Photoshop.

So, take the $79 plus $120 for the Photoshop CC  Single App subscription, and you’re around $200. If you went with the complete Creative Cloud subscription you’d be paying $600, so by just getting those two programs (upgrading to Lightroom 5 and subscribing just to Photoshop CC), you’re saving $400 by going this way, and you still have the latest versions of the best image-editing duo on the planet. 

Q. So when does the complete Creative Cloud subscription math work out?
A. As soon as you find yourself using two or more programs (not including Lightroom). So, if you use Photoshop and InDesign, or Photoshop and Premiere Pro, or Photoshop and Muse or any other couple of Adobe programs, the deal goes from “Meh” to “Hey!!!” For example, our in-house video team thinks the complete Creative Cloud is the best thing since sliced bread because they use lots of Adobe applications. For our graphic designers, it rocks for them too because none of them uses just Photoshop. The more programs you use, the more sense it makes. This is why, right now, I don’t think it makes that much sense for photographers, who are going to use just one or two programs (if you count Lightroom, which is included in the complete Creative Cloud) but I think that will change in the future as Adobe adds more photographer-centric features. 

Q. But what if Adobe raises the price on me?
A. I doubt I’ll be in my 60s and the price for the Creative Cloud will still be the same. At some point, it’ll probably go up, but any company can raise the price of any of their products at any time, just like the US Post Office does with the price of a stamp (and most companies do pretty regularly, which is why everything costs us more today  from milk to gas to coffee). Also, just like any product, you don’t have to buy it if they do raise the price. 

Q. So what happens if I can’t pay my subscription one month?
A. The same thing that happens if you can’t make your car payment. Two big burly guys come to your house in the middle of the night and take back your copy of Photoshop.

Q. Really?!
A. Well, they don’t come to your house per se (they do it digitally), but why chance it?

Q. I read that the Creative Cloud apps run in a Browser. Is that true?
A. I can’t believe I keep reading this, but no. No, no, no. They don’t run in your browser. All the Adobe desktop apps in the Creative Cloud  (like Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, etc.) run like they always did — on your desktop. But instead of getting a box shipped to you, you just download the software from “The Cloud.”

Q. I also read you always have to be online because it checks every day to see if your subscription is current. What if I’m not online when they check each day?
A. It’s my understanding that if you’re an annual subscriber, it only checks once-a-month to confirm your registration — not every day, all day, and annual subscribers can actually be off-line for up to 99 days straight and it still keep their subscription active (but I can’t remember ever meeting anyone who was offline for 99 days. I did hear stories of a Grandmother in Wyoming once though). For monthly subscribers, I think you can be offline for around 37 days, but still — I don’t know where this whole “check every day” thing came from either, but my advice would be; when they come to check, quickly turn out the lights and hide behind the couch.

Q. Will that work?
A. I’m not certain, but again, why chance it?

Q. Why is Adobe the only one doing this?
A. Actually, they’re not (look at AutoDesk, Audible, Microsoft, iTunes Match, Amazon Prime, etc.), and I imagine within just a couple of years (or less), this subscription model will become the norm. Don’t shoot the messenger. Shoot Brad instead.

Q. Hey, I bought CS6 last year. Aren’t I entitled to these feature updates for free?
A. Well, every time Adobe releases a new version of their software, only people that buy the new software get the new features. If you look in your copy of CS5, you won’t find any of the CS6 features in there — only the people that bought CS6 get them. When you bought CS6, you bought it based on the features that were in there at the time, and that’s exactly what you got. There was no promise that if Adobe came out with new features that you’d get them — new features always go in the next version of the software.

Q. Well, that’s not exactly true. Creative Cloud subscribers got those features free!
A. That’s true, because subscribers get new features free, as soon as they’re ready, so they’re always on the latest version of the software.

Q. So basically, Adobe is using that as a marketing thing to get people to subscribe to the Creative Cloud?
A. Well…yeah. Cloud subscribers get the new features free as soon as they’re ready. It made me want to subscribe.

Q. That’s not fair!
A. You seriously need to find the person who, at some point in your life, mistakenly told you that life was fair and clonk them with that round cardboard tube that comes inside Christmas wrapping paper.

Q. What if I don’t want to subscribe? What if I don’t want to “rent” my software?
A. You don’t have to. You can still buy the retail version of Photoshop CS6 just like always, and you’ll own it and there’s no monthly fee. 

Q. Well, how much does Photoshop CS6 cost?
A. I believe it’s $700 (ish).

Q. Wow. Renting doesn’t sound so bad now. 
A. I know, right?

Q. I know you said we can still buy Photoshop CS6, but I just scoured Adobe’s Website and I can’t find any link to it at all.
A. Me either. I searched all over, even got friends to help search with me, and I couldn’t find it for a long time (apparently buying CS6 includes a game of “needle in the haystack” first) but eventually I uncovered it. Here’s the link.

Q. So Scott, what do you think is a fair price for a bundle of both Photoshop CC and Lightroom 5?
A. A bunch of folks watching our live broadcast with Adobe’s Tom Hogarty thought the sweet spot for a bundle of the two of them would be $20, and I agree — that would be ideal. Probably isn’t going to happen, cause that would be both at about $10 a month, and one costs $700 and one costs $149. If you’re thinking, “Hey, $15 sounds great” I wouldn’t hold my breath for that either. I think $24.95 would still be really reasonable, but of course it’s not up to me. 

Q. So have you talked to Adobe about all this new pricing stuff?
A. Absolutely. I’ve been out there for meetings, I’ve had numerous conference calls, I’m on an Adobe advisory board, and I’ve been in close contact with Adobe over all of this and I’ve given my opinion to the point that I can’t believe they would actually continue to take my calls. But at the end of the day, I can only offer advice and give them the perspective of the 70,000 NAPP members I represent, but I’m not the Adobe CEO, and product pricing is not my call to make.

This is the product direction Adobe chose going forward, made by people with a much higher pay grade than me. I’m glad they asked at all. Most companies wouldn’t have. I also think they really listened (not just to me, but a wide range of industry influencers and longtime customers and I think that’s why some of the pricing deals and discounts are as low as they are. $10 a month for the latest Photoshop? That’s a pretty unbelievable price honestly — lower than I thought they’d ever go). But the software market has changed tremendously in the past few years and they have to do what they feel is best course for their products and their company going forward. By the way, this subscription model isn’t just where the future of software in general is going. It’s already here (as I mentioned earlier).  

Q. Do you think Adobe will change their mind about this?
A. No. This isn’t a decision they made two weeks ago, and Adobe knows there are a ton of people who already subscribe to the Creative Cloud (the last figure I heard was over 500,000 subscribers and growing, which is pretty staggering) and there are a ton of people who absolutely love the Creative Cloud, the tools it brings and the opportunities and doors it opens. I run into people while I’m out on tour who wouldn’t go back to the old way if you paid them, so while it may not be perfect for everyone just yet, this is pretty much just “Creative Cloud 1.0.” I’m honestly surprised at what Adobe has added in just one year, and I’ve seen some things that are coming, and I imagine before too long everybody will want to be in on this because Adobe is working on some truly groundbreaking stuff. 

Q. I know, I know, but I’m just so mad about all this!
A. Change freaks a lot of people out, and all the misinformation out there hasn’t helped either. But just know that you still have lots of options, so don’t feel like you’re being forced down one particular road. You can subscribe to just Photoshop. You can buy and own Photoshop CS6. You can join the whole Creative Cloud, or not. You can keep the software you already have and keep using it for years. You can sit on the sidelines and just see how this whole thing plays out, but regardless, you still have options. 

Q. So what are you going to do?
A. I subscribed to the Creative Cloud about two weeks after Adobe announced it, and I love it. I do use more than just Lightroom and Photoshop (I’ve been using InDesign all day today), and for me, and for my company, it not only makes sense, it saves me money. I’ve spent my entire career waiting 18 to 20 months for Adobe to release new Photoshop features. Now, I get them as soon as they’re ready. The waiting is over, and the decision was an easy one, but again, I had options. You do, too. 

I hope that helped to clear some things up.

Best,

-Scott