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My thoughts on Adobe's new rental policy

You've most likely already heard about Adobe's move to get rid of Creative Suite and offer rental-only software from now on. When the announcement was made my Twitter feed exploded with both love and hate for the new policy.

While some of the negative points people made are purely hypothetical or FUD for its own sake, others are genuine concerns. There has also been a lot of misinformation flying around, in particular with regards to being connected to the internet. You do not need a constant connection - the software will connect once a month and you will have a grace period of 99 days (soon to be 180 - thanks Todd) if the connection is unsuccessful.

Another common misconception is that the apps will run off the cloud or that they will automatically update without your permission. The apps run locally on your system as they did before but the licensing is handled on the cloud, so instead of a product key you now use your email address. Software updates will not occur automatically without your permission and Adobe has said they will periodically create fixed archived copies of the applications so you can revert to a particular version if desired.

The cloud is cheaper for new users too, although it may end up being more expensive for some of Adobe's existing customers, especially if they often skip versions. Actually, that's not strictly accurate. It is cheaper at the currently announced prices, which brings me on to my own primary concern: cloud users are susceptible to future price rises and policy changes. What if the price rises? Tough luck, you have to pay it anyway. What if Adobe releases a new privacy policy that you don't want to agree to (see Facebook, Instagram)? If you ever want to access your projects again, you'll have to agree whether you like it or not. If you are planning on building your workflow around Adobe products, you have to be prepared to essentially pay Adobe every month for life, no matter the cost. Your project files are hostage to future Adobe pricing and policy changes.

I have no issues with the cloud or rental policies as concepts, my only objection is to being forced into them. It is difficult not to interpret this as a power grab.

Another thing Adobe may not have considered is that they have different traction in different markets. Photoshop is clearly the king of print and graphics, but Premiere has only started to gain traction since the demise of FCP 7. I know several people who were looking for FCP 8, thought they'd found it with Premiere CS Next and are now hesitating.

I have been fortunate to have access to pre-release versions of some of the new Adobe apps and the new Premiere is fantastic. The dev team has really listened and I try to use the new version over CS6 whenever I can. It's sad that instead of talking about the great new features, the whole Adobe MAX event was overshadowed by this decision from upper management.

The worst part is that in spite of all this I will still unhappily subscribe and so will many others. I am certain that this will end up being financially beneficial to Adobe, but it erases a certain amount of goodwill.

Posted by Jon Chappell on May 7 2013 to Adobe, Analysis