Adobe's Creative Cloud - I've been spending $2/day

Posted 18 June 2013  

Moving to the Adobe Creative Cloud, with today's long-term Creative Cloud pricing, will cost me approximately $1.64 US per day; looking at my Adobe software investment over the past 2,253 days, my cost based on boxed software purchases and upgrades from Adobe has been $1.80 US per day.

If I can mentally write off my previous boxed software / downloads investment, the cost structure for the Adobe cloud is slightly cheaper and more flexible.

Adobe has been moving toward software subscriptions exclusively for some time now, and just earlier today I received an e-mail offering me a nice one-year subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud for $19/month for the first year (and $49/month, or ~$599 per year after that for standard rates) as I am a current boxed software customer.

Adobe's pricing guide is online here.

I've sunk a lot of money into Adobe software and wanted to do the math. So this post is sharing the numbers for my situation as a developer and developer-designer. I'm excluding Photoshop Lightroom purchases as I've used that for my hobby of photography vs. software development / app dev work.

Disclaimer: this post is just a general discussion of software service pricing as it relates to my individual developer self, not my corporate developer self.

Boxed Adobe product purchase history

To do the math on what I've paid Adobe over the years, I pulled up my order details on their web site and have figured out my true cost of ownership since approximately 2007. I've probably been overpaying for years, I really didn't get a lot of value out of the CS5-CS5.5 upgrade train. "Sigh"

Purchase Product Price paid inc. tax
5/2012 CS 6 Master Collection Upgrade $976.35
6/2011 CS 5.5 Web Premium Upgrade $393.22
11/2010 CS 5 Web Premium Upgrade $590.31
10/2008 CS 4 Web Premium Upgrade $582.02
4/2007 CS 3 Web Premium Full $1,508.81
Total Spend $4,050.71

So given a spend of $4,050 over the last 6 years or so, I've been spending $1.80 per day, or ~$650 per year.

If I wait a year or more to sign up for the Creative Cloud, essentially adding that time, my daily cost through June 2014 will have been $1.54 vs $1.80.

If I wait 2 years to see what new awesome innovating features their developers release, my cost will through 6/2015 will have been $1.35 per day. Probably not worth the "savings".

Considering the Photoshop-only angle

Although I've made extensive use of the past of Dreamweaver, Flash, Illustrator, Premier, etc. - looking back at the value that I have derived from my Adobe software purchases, I wonder if the single product (Photoshop) license might have been a better route for me to go now.

These days I use Photoshop about 95% of the time and After Effects/Premiere the other 5%.

The single app plan of $19.99 per month ($239 per year) for Photoshop vs the full $49.99 might make sense for a lot of basic design work. Hmm.

Software subscriptions can be very nice

Subscriptions to software are generally a little more flexibility when it comes to operating systems and machines.

With Adobe today, there has always been the ability to essentially one-time move your Windows purchase to a Mac purchase, or vica-versa. This was called the the "platform/ language swap" offer.

You could also, depending on your license terms, typically install your software and activate it on 2 machines: a primary workstation and a secondary notebook. I've always enjoyed that Adobe makes deactivation easy to move to new computer builds, etc.

With the Creative Cloud, instead of activating with a serial number, the cloud moves I believe to an Adobe ID log-in, and supports multiple operating systems, so this is good stuff.

I believe in software subscription services as long as the pace of innovation, bug fixes, and product updates keep things moving along, I'm happy to have the flexibility to install the software on my machines, not worry about a specific operating system choice, or having to make a large purchase every year or two to upgrade to the latest releases of the underlying software packages.

I think I'll be signing up for the Creative Cloud at some point, but whether I do it this year, or another year, I'm still a little unclear on.

And now... eventually... to the creative cloud!

Jeff Wilcox is a Principal Software Engineer at Microsoft on the Azure team.

Jeff has been at Microsoft since 2005 and holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Michigan. Jeff lives in downtown Seattle.

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