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article imageOp-Ed: Forget hype about Adobe Creative Suite 5.5, it’s on subscription

By Paul Wallis     Apr 12, 2011 in Technology
If you’ve been watching with a very cynical eye the various battles around Adobe, the Flash issues, Adobe CS 5.5 and its business model will at least get a smile. Adobe has come up with a game changer.
Creative Suite 5.5’s delivery represents a major blow in Adobe’s market fightback. If you’ve also been reading the protestations of brilliance from anyone who’s ever claimed to put out “graphics software” (which apparently means anything graphic for which the code can be written by lazy insects), you’ll appreciate the irony.
Adobe is supposedly under siege from the new HTML 5 protocols, and “competitors” which even by software manufacturing standards must be the most apathetic, out of touch bastards on Earth.
The problem with this view of Adobe is that it’s the market leader. Check out the design sites saying they want “ai files” (Adobe Illustrator files), Dreamweaver, etc, etc and you’ll see where the interest is: In standard working platforms, not press releases. If you also check out the proficiencies required in professional media software, it’s all Adobe. Same deal. They don’t give a damn about the niceties of Internet code protocols, they want something that works.
Consumers, similarly, are less than hypnotized by said protocols. In a world where Photoshop can raise celebrities from their natural apelike status to something resembling human beings, it’s no surprise. The real issue with Creative Suite’s predecessors was the cost. They were incredibly expensive products. Some of Adobe’s products were available on subscription, but in Australia they were for some reason taken off the market.
This is my The Little Nurse  in her very first picture. She later gave herself a makeover  and start...
This is my The Little Nurse, in her very first picture. She later gave herself a makeover, and started my 7 year search for some decent graphics software. The Adobe stuff can deliver the quality I need.
That was pretty irritating for me. I’ve had to put a lot of my media stuff on hold, looking for products that actually work. Adobe appealed as a standard platform, but as a freelancer I couldn’t justify spending that sort of money. That situation has now changed. Creative Suite 5.5 versions are cheap at A$81 - $244 per month for a yearly subscription or an “occasional” month-to-month license.
This includes updates. Adobe is selling CS 5.5 as a more HTML 5-friendly product, and using the Photoshop subscription model. This is the right business model, as well as the right sales model. CS 5.5 is download. No more hard copies means streamlining the cost base as well as a realistic approach to future needs. Most customers will be quite happy with the download/license online process, which is nothing new. Subscriptions are payable through credit cards.
The old way of buying Creative Suite 5.5 is still available, but at $2,599 USD for the Master Collection, it’s pretty obvious which way the wind is blowing. It’s unlikely that the disk-based way of buying software will last too much longer anyway, given the increased efficiency of downloads and better consumer technology. Real costs will go down for Adobe, which could mean a much better capital base for development.
The technical aspects are also important. Vector-based drawing and currency of Web design software are now critical. The technological capabilities of CS 5.5’s users are commercial assets for them, and staying up to speed with the market, particularly the mainstream market, is critical. Freelancers are often cursed with “quaint” technology which is incredibly uncompetitive and simply won’t work with newer platforms.
You see what I mean. This is a hybrid scan/pencil drawing  with some digital touch ups. Took ages  a...
You see what I mean. This is a hybrid scan/pencil drawing, with some digital touch ups. Took ages, and still not as accurate as I need it to be.
The pay-as-you-go/upgrade-as-you-go approach is definitely the way for any working media professional. Staying up-to-date also translates into “not having to learn whole new suites of technology”. That was first seen in CAD design, where even the experts found themselves literally chasing their business technology. Their business capabilities were physically defined by their technical capabilities.
In media, trying to sell 2005-level products is out of the question. The technical environment has changed drastically, and the business environment is ferocious. Efficiency, cost and quality are the only cards worth holding when going for contracts. Proof of ability to deliver is the only currency.
Adobe’s new baby may be the beginning of a major revolution. People who were unable to get into the market can now do so. That means a lot of talent is coming onstream. Freelancers will be dancing in the streets.
It’ll be interesting to see if Adobe’s competitors can match this move. My bet is that they can’t, in their present form. I doubt if they have the capital or the ability to deliver real-time quality product on this scale. More likely would be a merger of several companies, with more capital, on an El Cheapo basis.
The fact is that they've been outmaneuvered. Talking about competing with Adobe now means nothing. The story now is "prove it."
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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