Adobe Creative Suite Subscription Model

I have a friend at Adobe and he and I discussed the need for a subscription model years ago.  When he told me it was coming I was so excited not for me necessarily but for my students.  This is a huge leap in a positive direction for any new designer or developer.

At JWU I teach Web Design and Development classes and I went from experiencing the Adobe Woes myself to now seeing it in my students (I wrote about this topic back in 2008).  Sure Adobe offers great student and non profit discounts but they really don’t make it easy for freelancers to get started because those discounts are not meant for commercial use.

If you’re a student at a university getting ready to graduate and you want to go out on your own, you’re now looking at a large startup cost.  Obviously this number is going to be far less than that of business startups in other industries but still significant.  [note]Right now Adobe CS5.5 Web Premium (which includes Photoshop, Flash, Dreamweaver, Illustrator and other apps) is $1,799 and an upgrade is $399.  That plus the cost of a machine and other things makes it tough for a freelancer to get started.[/note]

Adobe Subscription Model Image

Pirating May Have Been Their Only Choice

Until now, these freelancers would likely have gone straight out and downloaded the same software from a torrent site.  Pirated software isn’t that hard to come by and there are a lot of “hackers” out there working to make it even easier.  I’d love to see some numbers on how many websites were built on pirated software cause I imagine the number is astounding.

Adobe Adopts a Subscription Model

Adobe’s Subscription model is going to severely reduce the barrier to entry for freelancers.  Instead of having to fork over $1,799 to get the adobe suite they can instead pay $89 a month.  The software is installed on your machine all the same but it only remains accessible if your subscription is paid for and up to date.   You can also subscribe to specific applications instead of entire suites which has it’s benefits as well

The Numbers Speak Volumes

$1,799 for Adobe CS 5.5 Web Premium is a lot of dough.  Then you have to assume that the suite will be updated every 18 months which is $399.  So if I’m a freelancer starting in 2012 by 2015 I will have paid $2,597 plus tax.  Over three years and two upgrades this is a lot of money.  Its even harder to hand over your credit card for such a large payment when you know the same software is out on the internet for free and all I have to do is wear an eye patch (bad pirate joke).

With the subscription model you pay $89 a month.  Over 3 years (assuming the price is the same) you’ll pay $3204.  This is a little more money than the pay once option but doable.

Over three years:
One Time Payment = $2,597
Subscription Model = $3,204
Difference = $607 or $16.86 a month (over 3 years).

If I was a freelancer today I’d subscribe to just Photoshop which is only $35 a month use a different IDE than Dreamweaver and if I need Illustrator or Flash I would get it on a month to month basis which you can read more about here.

3 thoughts on “Adobe Creative Suite Subscription Model

  1. I think subscription pricing is a great idea. Another option for students going into freelance work( or any work for that matter) is buy an education license right before you graduate. There are no restrictions on what that license is used for, just who can buy it, the EULA does allow commercial work on an education license. Adobe(and Apple) have even in the past run ad campaigns around April/May pushing graduating students to use their discount while they still can. The only problem is when it comes around time to upgrade you would have to buy a full retail license.

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  2. I think the subscription model is a great idea. Definitely a good way to save money.

    As a student, I was very excited to learn about this feature. However, as I did some more research, I found out that it might not be worth it to be on the subscription.

    As a student, you can get Photoshop for about $250, or a bundled package for $350 to $450.

    To subscribe, you have to pay $30 a month (no commitment), which will easily add up to the same amount after a year. You can also subscribe for $20, but that requires an annual contract. Again, after a year, you will have paid $240, which is almost the price of a single Photoshop license, and after 18 months (assuming that’s the life cycle of adobe software), you would have paid off the entire bundle.

    So while the subscription model is a brilliant idea, I think the pricing is still a little too expensive for a student and doesn’t make a lot of economic sense in a longer term.

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