Photoshop and the Adobe Creative Cloud Myth


At my Photoshop seminars last week in Boston and Washington DC, three questions came up again and again from the seminar participants and so I thought I’d address them here:

(1) Photoshop CS6 doesn’t run in your Web browser
The first one is a myth going around that if you get the Creative Cloud version of Photoshop you run it in your Web browser. Good news — it is NOT a web-based application — it’s the same Photoshop that works the same way as if you had bought it in a box at your local computer store —- but now you just download it from the Web (er, the Adobe Cloud) and install it on your computer just like you do with about any software program these days.

I think what throws people off is the word “Cloud” and when we think “Cloud” we think “Web-based”, and while there is a cloud-component and features that come as part of a membership to Adobe’s Creative Cloud, that’s just to extend the power and workflow of Adobe’s applications — they are not Web based applications. So why did Adobe use the word Cloud at all? My guess is, Wall Street loves anything with the word “Cloud” in it (I’m judging by the number of backlit ads I see in airports touting different companies “Cloud integration” or “Cloud Solutions” or “Cloud Cloudiness”).

I think probably the biggest benefit (well, it is for me anyway) of Creative Cloud membership is that you get new Photoshop features as soon as they’re ready — you don’t have to wait 18 months to two years before you get new features — they just release these new features via updates from the cloud as soon as they’re fully baked. I’ve been on the Creative Cloud since it came out (I even told the crowd — the version of Photoshop I’ve been using all day today is the Creative Cloud version, and they seemed relieved).

(2) If you don’t have CS6, you can rent just Photoshop CS6 alone for $20 a month
This shocked a lot of folks (especially folks on Photoshop Elements or who just had Lightroom that thought they’d never be able to afford the full Photoshop). This isn’t a stripped down version, or trial version or any of those other myths — it’s the full-blown Photoshop CS6 (including the new DSLR Video editing features) that we all use everyday.

(3) A whole BUNCH of folks didn’t know Adobe cut Lightroom 4’s price in half!
I was surprised at how many folks didn’t realize that Lightroom 4 isn’t $299 any more. A while back Adobe lowered the price to just $149.99 (which is awesome — yay Adobe), but Lightroom 4 is also now included as part of the full Creative Cloud membership, so if you’re already a full Adobe Creative Cloud member (so you’re not just renting Photoshop by itself) then you can  just go and download the full Lightroom 4 right now. Sweet, right? Oh yeah!

Anyway, that’s just a few of the things that kept coming up in Boston and again in DC last week so I thought I’d share them here. How software is sold and delivered is changing just like everything else in technology these days, and I know it’s hard to keep with it all (it’s a struggle for me, and I have lots of help), so I hope you find these helpful (lot’s more on the whole Creative Cloud thing over on Adobe’s site).

Note:  In re-reading these three points, they sound a little “pluggy” but just so you know, I don’t get a kick-back, commission, or anything else from Adobe if you buy Photoshop, Lightroom or the Creative Cloud, which if you ask me is a doggone shame! LOL!.

      1. But questions still arise about the Nikon pen and that nifty set of Apple drink coasters with the matching key ring. :-)

  1. I use Photoshop Element on my macbook. Before I got PSE I bought Aperture as my editing program. For some reason I haven’t really used it. One reason is that my macbook is to ‘small’ (Processor 2.26 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, Memory 2 GB 1067 MHz DDR3) and editing on Aperture takes too long time, the other is that I haven’t really got used to the workflow.
    My question and wondering is; what is the difference between Lightroom and Aperture? Why are almost all photographer/bloggers using LR instead of Aperture? I had the impression that Aperture was the ultimate program for ‘serious’ photographers.
    Thankful for your answer,

    1. The great benefit to me coming from a mix of PC and Mac use was that Lightroom was cross platform so I can purchase one piece of software and use it on my Mac Pro at home and my Dell laptop while on the road. Images and catalog’s get sync’d to the cloud so changes made on one system get sync’d to the other. Aperture is only Mac so has never been an option for me, and I have heard that it’s very resource hungry. That being said Lightroom isn’t snappy as I’d like. Thanks to Scott’s post on his sports workflow, I’ve now got PhotoMechanic for my main keywording and previews meaning I only import good photos to Lightroom rather than everything which saves me a host of time.

      1. 10/23/12. Or just go to the search box at the top of this page and type in “sports workflow.”

  2. This is for everyone that doesn’t have LR4…. Best Buy has it on sale in the flyer right now for $109. I believe it ends on Wedneday. Enjoy and Haapy Thanksgiving!

  3. I would like to see Adobe lower the normal monthly price for the Cloud service to $29 instead of $49. I qualify the the lower price but it’s only good for 1 year.

  4. I was really leery of the Creative Cloud until I read the FAQ. I didn’t believe Adobe was offering all their CS apps for the one price. And cross platform! I already owned PS6 and LR4 for the PC but wanted to give InDesign a shot and run Adobe apps on my MacBook Pro w/o buying another copy. The Creative Cloud subscription solved those problems. I’m going to be retiring from my engineering day job in about a year and the full price for the Creative Cloud is going to be a stretch so I’ll be re-evaluating the cost/benefit.

    1. We’re also seeing Scott’s three questions and many more – here are our top 85 Creative Cloud questions (and answers) so far, yours is probably on there:

      @Johnathan Lyman – If you quit the Creative Cloud subscription then the applications will stop working, including LR4, so it’s similar to renting.

      @Bill Hughlett – It sounds like you want an individual product subscription rather than the “all you can eat” Cloud, different pricing.

      From what Adobe said last year at MAX, they’re calling it a cloud because of all the file sharing, storing, syncing, and collaboration features in the Creative Cloud, plus the online cloud-based services included like Typekit, but Scott is spot on that all the standard CS6 tools are downloaded, installed, and run locally just like normal.

  5. I’ve been rocking Adobe’s products with Creative Cloud for about four months now. I determined that for what I use, it was cheaper to have the subscription than buying the products outright. Downside, I had to agree to a commitment. Upside, I saved a lot of cash.

  6. Scott….re point #2 above, I don’t get it. I just spent 30 minutes on Adobe’s site and the best I can do is $30/month, all I can eat (which I don’t want) for one year before it pops back to $50/month. There is nothing about “renting Photoshop CS6 alone for $20/month”! What am I missing?

    1. Not true. From an article just published on dpreview today, an interview with Adobe about CC misconceptions:

      “What happens to Photoshop CC and my files if I cancel my subscription?

      We do not delete any files or software
      from your computer. You will not be able to use the software but the
      files you’ve created and saved on your hard drive are left intact. And
      you don’t need a valid license or Internet connection to uninstall the

      Full article:

      1. Steven: If you no longer have the program to open the files, it doesn’t matter where they are, I think that was the “Economists” point. Besides, he made the point long before Creative Cloud was the only way.

        I find it telling that so many people find the cloud suspicious… In the short run it’s not the “facts” that will shape people’s buying decisions, it’s the perception. IMHO Adobe has created significant fear because they’ve moved where people are uncomfortably insecure.

      2. So you are telling me I can “open” my files? How does that help me? If a file needs to be changed and I can’t then what’s the point? It would be as useful as an exported JPEG.
        Oh and then there is the “just buy CS6” I own it and will be sticking with it but what a crappy thing Adobe is doing. They say if you want the latest version subscribe but you should also buy CS6 for a file opening/editing back-up system? First of all why is CS6 which is now essentially and old outdated product being sold at FULL price? It should be discounted at least a little. Second, Am I supposed to be so naive that I would not be worried that a feature used in the CC version not being able to port to CS6? Third, I have been tracking a ton of issues with captive cloud. The one that seems to pop up is CC not running while CS is installed on the same machine The fix is to uninstall CS and then re-install CC. I realize that not everyone is having this issue but again if Adobe’s answer to back-up is CS6 shouldn’t it not cause problems with CC?

  7. The real concern about Adobe Creative Cloud

    Adobe get people on the subscription plan, perhaps by significantly increasing retail product price, then increase subscription prices significantly.

    Adobe have in the past shown they are more than capable of milking the market.

    Promise people that Adobe won’t do this by limiting future price increases to understandable amounts.

    Of course the real solution is a vibrant competitor to Adobe to keep things in check but I have a horrible feeling Adobe owns to much intellectual property for that to happen…

  8. You will pay a lot more in a long run. I normally don’t upgrade every time Adobe releases something new. I used Photoshop exclusively and the price for it is now $10 per month for all that have CS 3 or above. But the upgrade is normally $200 so If I hold on to my subscription for 3 years I’ll pay $360, and not $200. This blows. I wish there was a bigger competition here and PS like product from other software high reliability companies like Apple.

    1. MathMan… your math still isn’t right… Adobe is very tight lipped about what subsequent year prices will be. It might be $10 / mo in year one… but there is no reason to believe it wont be $20 / mo in year two and three. So your cost to use PS for three years is $600. And the next three years – and every 3 year period thereafter will be $720. The good news is you’ll have all the PS upgrades you want. The bad news is, you paid dearly for them. The worse news is that nothing prevents Adobe from raising the prices. The worserest news – you have to agree to one year terms to get the “$20/mo” price.

      Oh, by the way under the prior pricing scheme PS upgrades were about $200. Under the one-true-cloud, the pricing will be $240 EVERY year.

  9. Scott, what is YOUR opinion of this whole thing? You’ve been deafeningly silent on your reaction. Don’t you have an opinion? The head man at the National Association of Photoshop Professionals has no opinion? Your recent appearance on The Grid with (Adobe’s Digital Imaging group manager) Tom Fogarty was nothing more than a lot of giggling insipidness; you acted like a 14-year-old interviewing a supermodel. C’mon, help us understand. what…is…your…opinion? We’re ready for a Op Ed piece here…

  10. First, I can appreciate Adobes desire
    to achieve a more predicable revenue stream. Having worked for silicon
    valley companies for years, I know the Wall Street demands on companies
    to meet revenue expectations and predictability is something they


    1. The price for
    existing CS6 users is attractive right up until you see that it’s an
    intro price that expires in 1 year. Right now I pay roughly $600 every
    18 months to upgrade, that comes to about $33 per month. The new plan
    has me paying $49 per month after the first year. That’s about a 50%
    increase in expenses over the monthly adjusted price of the current
    perpetual license plan.

    2. There’s no lock down in terms of pricing – prices can go up
    at any time, that scares a lot of people. I understand the yearly
    contract aspect, but I look at this in terms of the long term. With
    perpetual licenses, There might not be sufficient feature / technical
    reasons to upgrade to the latest and greatest, so I have to choice of
    skipping a release and waiting for the next release.

    3. With perpetual licensing, if there’s a downturn in the
    economy, it’s my choice to delay purchasing the next upgrade. With the
    CC plan, I have no option, I have to keep paying every month, if I
    can’t make a payment, I lose access to the software, which impacts my
    ability to earn an income. Hardly an idea situation. Remember
    professional photographers are getting squeezed on prices on a daily

    Bottom line:
    1. Will I try it for 1 year at $19.99 per month? Probably.
    2. Will I renew it at $49.99 per month? No
    3. Would I renew it if you kept the price at $29.99 beyond the first year? Yes

    Even Better : Create CC bundles that mimic the existing CS bundles with appropriate price points

  11. Adobe just told me that next year it would cost $19.99 per month. That means about $240per year as apposed to $200 to $250 every two to three years. Bottom line – I’m not a happy camper. Guess I’ll be quitting NAPP to afford “The Cloud.”

  12. The small problem here is that this will be a price increase for most existing users. It’s not a bad deal initially for users just starting out, and who need the whole suite. But in time, it’ll add up.

    The big problem is the subscription factor: stop paying, and the tools go away. So you’re paying forever, or at least as long as you need access to your files. Why? Well, of course, the rationale is that Adobe’s essentially getting upgrades from every user, not just those that want them. Sure, you’re free to run the old thing or the new thing, but you keep paying.

    And this becomes a disincentive for Adobe to provide great upgrades. I’m “only” a Photoshop and Lightroom user. But I have not bought every upgrade, simply because I didn’t see value enough in each upgrade to warrant my spending on them. Now, Adobe’s getting the cash regardless, they have even less of a hard reason to give you an enhanced product. They still have to consider the competition, I suppose. So they might spend more development time on Premiere Pro, which has stiff competition in the video NLE market, and less on Photoshop, which doesn’t have significant competition.

    But it gets worse. Think for a minute on things you buy (your house, camera, car, guitar, TV, etc). If you’re a smart buyer, dealing with a good company, you generally get a product you’re pretty happy with. Its in that company’s best interest to make you happy. It’s easier for Canon to sell me, a proven DSLR customer, a new Canon model than to convince someone happy shooting with their iPhone to buy a Canon. But if I’m unhappy, maybe I go to the competition… Nikon, what you got for me?

    Contrast that to your subscriptions (magazine, cellular, cable/satellite TV, premium TV, internet, landline, whatever). Are you really happy with these services? Most people tend to not be so happy with them… and that’s not accidental. These companies realize that you’re paying every month to keep something you depend on. So you don’t leave when you’re dissatisfied, you have to pass a threshold of dissatisfaction before you quit. You hear people complaining about their cellular, their cable, etc. all the time… but they don’t quit.

    What’s happening here is that these subscription companies understand that there’s an optimal point of profit, which has a few people very happy, a few actually passing that threshold and leaving, and the rest left in some degree of misery, but not so much that they leave. They have figured out that those who do leave, the most demanding of the service, are just way more expensive to keep than the cost of acquiring new customers. This is why you see so many ads for cellular, cable, and internet on the radio, TV, print, online, etc. all the time, despite the fact that most people already have these services.

    And really, look at the cost of dropping or switching most services. I dropped my satellite TV provider for “the other one” last fall, and while I had been angry at the current one for months, I really did have to pass that threshold, for a service that pretty transparently plugged into my TV viewing habits. In January I dumped my satellite internet provider for their competition (yeah, it sucks to live on 26 acres of South Jersey forest — no land lines for these things), and I had been annoyed at them even longer. Gotta pass that threshold.

    Now thing of what a big pain in the buttocks it would be to switch out from Adobe tools to something else. Depending on which tools you’re using, it might be difficult, it might be impossible, you might not even find a suitable replacement. That’s the kind of threshold they’re going to enjoy. It won’t happen overnight, but they’re extremely likely to find the same point of optimization as an other subscription service… they’re going to do things that make large percentages of users grumble about leaving, but few actually will. Particularly if the competition on some of these tools remains as weak as it is. I mean, is GIMPShop really the best PhotoShop alternative mankind has cooked up over all these years (and I’m speaking as an actual photographer here… I use PhotoShop for its core purpose, not interested in a art-painting type replacement).

    1. A key consideration is how they pitch the price. Assuming that subscription will perhaps one day be the future of software, (and who knows, perhaps much else will be rented too?), how its priced will be a decider.
      Looking at Adobe’s pricing, if I signed up to their current 12 month offer price, it equates to very roughly what I spend currently upgrading Photoshop (every 2nd version, and at an upgrade price roughly 1/3 of a new licence).
      If one can live with the insecurity of changing to “rented” (and that may one day not be an option!), then there should perhaps at least be a financial encouragement to surrender this security? One year at the “right” rate, followed by “forever” at overpriced, doesn’t really seem a fair arrangement, does it.
      We assume that we will get the benefits of being up to date, but “new tricks” have not been sufficient to encourage me to upgrade each time. Some are useful, many are like the long feature list on a product that sells it to you and then you forget all about in daily use.
      Who is to say that Adobe will keep improvements coming along? they cost to produce, and Adobe already has your rent.
      One thing I know, is that Adobe have pitched the price of a single app subscription too high for Photoshop. £20 per month for that alone, when 27?apps including Photoshop can be had for £50 per month!
      OK, they’ve added Photoshop extended, but that’s rather like a high charge for a hotel room that includes Spa and gym facilities when all you wanted was a bed for the night.

  13. Hi Scott I have the greatest respect for you but I think Adobe is way off here. I want to pay my 200 dollars to upgrade from CS6 to the latest version. NOPE cant do that have to pay 30 dollars a month forever. Hey what If I get canned and cant pay the 30 bucks a month? Is photoshop still gonna work?

    I just want to upgrade my program. Ill pay the money but full out without a monthly commitment to the rest of my life.

    My respect for Adobe is sliding fast. If I get one more Cert message about security issues with Adobe Acrobat I think I will go mental.

    Adobe seems to have lost its way.

  14. I recently read an article which explained the Adobe Creative Cloud package that Adobe are offering, the article explained all the main factors/characteristics of the package. The article didn’t seem to like the new package that they are offering and explained about how the subscription can save money for people who have the master package. I think the subscription is a good idea but the lack of customisation available to people needs addressing because the unnecessary programmes that customers wouldn’t use are going to take up a lot of hardware space.

    The article I was referring to is here:

  15. OMG its open season on Scott. No No… Scott has nothing to do with Adobe. Yea right.

    Ive been taking classes from Scott for 10 years and pay to subscribe to his tutorials.

    Scott can you give us tutorials on how the cloud works? Must be nice to carry around a 600 f4 lense and never worry about where your next meal is going to come from. Im sure 30 dollars a month means nothing to you big guy.

    I especially love that if you cant pay the monthly payment your potential to edit/ earn is ditched as well.

  16. However, once you are enshrouded in the Criminal…errr Creative Cloud, you better have a lot of water based lubricant handy. Watch as it goes from 20/month to 50/month to 75/month…. and it will never stop. This is the apotheosis of a virtual graphic program stranglehold and you will bow down before the Adobe God…or be left out in the cold. With this setup, look to see CC content pirated the moment it is downloaded …a loopback should solve the validation problem…..

  17. Once Adobe has you attached via the Cloud or whatever they like to interpret it as, how do you get off the merry go round with out losing the software?
    What happens if you miss any payments?
    It seems to me you are going to have your head over a barrel in perpetuity by Adobe.

  18. I signed up for Adobe creative suite last August and used only photoshop. I thought that the program was continuously updated. However, Adobe photoshop cloud now has 13 new features which an Adobe person told me today (July 17, 2013) were not in my program. After August I will drop the Creative Suite and buy only the creative cloud and hope that the version is updated instead of having a new version in a year or two.
    Also, do the many different versions of photoshop give different print outs when letting photoshop direct the printing on Epson printers (7900, 3800 or 2200) instead of the printer itself directing the printing.?

  19. The myth is that the cloud is actually useful.It’s a total money grab and like sheep a whole bunch of nitwits have signed up for it.If no one fell for this scam it would be over.But people are either greedy or stupid and so it goes on.

  20. scott, seriously? this blows. what happened to owning software that doesn’t require a net connect? jeepers. next they will show the government what we’ve been working on…. for a fee of course….

  21. Well you made me laugh out loud with your “I dont’t get a commission” comment. It is not called a commission, but Photoshop is your living and your life, and you have a vested intrest in its success. Am I missing your Gimp tutorials out there somewhere? How about Painter? This is not a complaint, you are a “Photoshop Guy” after all, but pretending as though you do not have an intrest in the success of Photoshop is insulting.

  22. I like to buy my business software when I can afford it and then use it, safe in the knowledge that I can keep going like that as long as I choose or until my computer doesn’t support it. Now I feel that Adobe is forcing me to borrow into the future. They really need to give us a way to part company with the subscription at some point without losing access to the tools at the current level.

    For power users who generate all their income from Adobe tools and don’t mind whether the cost is 100 or 500 per year ….. great! But Adobe have me over a barrel – Do I believe that if I stop paying my subscription in 3 years time because the price has, that all my work generated with the latest Photoshop CC will be editable in my owned Photoshop CS5? Hmmmmm I would be *very* surprised.

    This might work for Adobe but I haven’t seen any customers saying it works for them, they just feel trapped. Well …… me too.

  23. This model by Adobe is quite the trap. In 3 or 4 years, they will increase the price and you will be stuck or have to buy a full version. They have recently lowered the price to $10 per month for Photoshop and Lightroom which sounds great, but will be a money grab in the long run. It will be up to consumers to decide whether they like this model. Obviously Adobe is willing to lose money to suck you in now. I’ll stick with the full product. I believe I’ll come out ahead in the long run.

Leave a Reply
Previous Post

Apple’s iPad mini: my 60-second review

Next Post

Cyber Monday Deals from Kelby Training & NAPP!