What is the Adobe Creative Cloud? Should You Subscribe?

Is the Adobe Creative Cloud a Good Deal?

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With the release of Adobe Creative Suite 6 (Adobe CS6) Adobe also announced that they’ll offering the suite as a subscription. In addition to the subscription format, they are also offering integration of the software into their cloud, for sharing, syncing and collaborating.

How Does Adobe Creative Cloud Work?

Surprising, almost the same as regular software. In place of getting a box and dvd’s shipped to you, you will download the suite and install it as you would any other software.

Adobe’s subscription software differs from another form of subscription software which is known as software as a service (SaaS). Learn about SaaS. Adobe’s suite is installed on users computers as compared to SaaS which is hosted on the provider's servers and accessed only online. The biggest difference, is that users have the ability to share and access files online via the Creative Cloud.

Learn about cloud computing.

Benefits of Adobe Creative Cloud

  • No Upfront Expense: Get the full suite for a monthly subscription payment. You can avoid the capital cost of $999  and start using the full suite today. This isn't financing - you aren't purchasing the software. You are simply buying monthly access to it. This is an excellent way to improve cash flow - let your monthly income offset your software expense.
  • No Upgrade Costs: All updates and new programs are automatically available at no extra cost.
  • Access to Everything (and More): Get the full CS6 Suite, plus a number of extras. You no longer have to wait for the latest products, services, features, and workflows. They are available immediately to all subscribers. Other extras include: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4, Adobe Acrobat, and the Adobe Touch Apps.
  • Sync, Store, and Share: Access to the Adobe cloud to sync and share data across devices. Now you can access native Adobe files (ai, psd, etc.) from your mobile devices - and share them with clients and co-workers.

Learn about Adobe CS6 for Bloggers

Does Creative Cloud Make Financial Sense? A Head-to-Head Comparison

Features and benefits are one thing. Does the Adobe Creative Cloud actually make financial sense, when compared to purchasing a license.

So, lets make a head to head comparison. With Creative Cloud, you get access to the full suite. In real life, most people don’t buy the master suite. Lets compare a standard creative suite (which most users are likely to choose) to the Adobe Creative Cloud.

Option 1: CS6 Packaged software with purchased license

Adobe Design & Web Premium CS6: Comes with Photoshop CS6 Extended, Illustrator CS6, InDesign CS6, Dreamweaver CS6, Flash Professional CS6, Fireworks CS6, Acrobat X Pro, Bridge CS6, Media Encoder CS6

  • Cost: $1899 one time purchase
  • Upgrades: extra
  • License term: up to two computers for same user. Indefinite time frame.

Option 2: Adobe Creative Cloud CS6 License by subscription

Adobe Creative Cloud: Comes with Adobe Acrobat X Pro, Adobe After Effects CS6, Adobe Audition CS6, Adobe Dreamweaver CS6, Adobe Edge preview, Adobe Fireworks CS6, Adobe Flash Builder 4.6 Premium Edition, Adobe Flash Professional CS6, Adobe Illustrator CS6, Adobe InDesign CS6, Adobe Photoshop CS6 Extended, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4, Adobe Prelude CS6, Adobe Premiere Pro CS6, Adobe Muse, Adobe SpeedGrade CS6

  • Cost: $49.99 / month
  • Upgrades: no charge
  • License term: Valid as long as monthly fee is paid. Can be installed on up to two computers for the same user.

A new release is typically issued by Adobe every 18-24 months. For this comparison we’ll use the 18 month timeframe to estimate costs.

There are basically three purchase scenarios.

Scenario #1: New Adobe User considering purchasing the suite for the first time.

  • Purchase cost: $1899
  • Subscription cost until next upgrade: $899.82
  • Subscription wins! Savings of $1000

Scenario #2: Current Adobe User considering upgrading to CS6 from CS5 or subscribing to Adobe Creative Cloud.

  • Upgrade cost: $749
  • Subscription cost until next upgrade: $899.82
  • Upgrade wins: Savings of $150

Scenario #3: Current Adobe User considering upgrading to CS6 from CS4 (or earlier) or subscribing to Adobe Creative Cloud.

  • Upgrade cost: $949
  • Subscription cost until next upgrade: $899.82
  • Subscription wins! Savings of $50.

The Bottom Line: The decision between a purchased license or subscription really depends on what you already have and how often you plan on upgrading. Because both options work the same on your computer it really comes down to a financial decision.

Aside from the cost savings, there are couple of other points to keep in mind.

With subscription, user has access to all programs and upgrades. Also, the user didn't have to pay out the full amount at once - they paid per month. The mobility and ability to share native Adobe files across the web should be taken into account.

Some users like to purchase a latest release and use it from many years - through a number of new releases. In terms of costs, Adobe Cloud probably isn’t the best option for them.