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Among the many issues that Adobe's new subscription-only plan (called Creative Cloud) raises for customers, there are two that I haven't seen addressed much:
  1. Adobe's incentive for improving their software
  2. The effect on customers' eventual hardware decisions

First, by keeping everyone on a perpetually updated subscription service, there is no need to convince customers to upgrade to a newer, better edition. If all Adobe did from this point forward was fix occasional bugs, the subscription customers would still have no real choice except to keep paying for the service. Although there are some corporate-structure-related legal reasons (described here) why this move frees up Adobe to make more improvements more often, it is the long term incentive to improve that I worry about. For example, Adobe recently announced the end of support for Encore DVD creation software. For many wedding videographers, this is an essential part of their workflow. How many of them signed up for Creative Cloud, only to find out later that Encore was not going to see any future updates?

Second, there is the potential for Adobe to make sweeping decisions that could shut older hardware out of the market. When Adobe released CS5, they made the decision to only support 64-bit operating systems for some of their software. So if you wanted to use After Effects CS5, and you had a 32-bit machine, you had to get a new computer. Or you could just stick with CS4 and it would continue to work fine. If Adobe decides that its CC subscription will only support 128-bit operating systems in the future, there is no alternative. Subscribers will have to buy new computers to keep up. Maybe Adobe will think of a charitable way to handle this...maybe not. After all, what is their incentive? They've already got you hooked as a subscriber.

 


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