Photoshop CC Isn’t All Good: From a 23-Year Old

The Creative Cloud



What is Photoshop CC?

With the release of Photoshop CC (here in the middle of 2013), Adobe has decided that they will no longer sell their software, instead opting to rent it to those who wish to use it. (I’ll avoid all the technical jargon about perpetual licenses, etc…) Bottom line is, if you want to upgrade past your current version of Photoshop anytime in the foreseeable future, you will have to pay-per-month to have access to Photoshop. Things could get hairy if I can’t kick my $60 a month addiction to McDonald’s McNuggets. Darn.

Alas, My Paint Brush!

The crux of my objection with the new CC model has nothing to do with the price (although CC is more expensive-I’ll get to that), but rather with the fact that I can’t purchase and own my tools. My paint brush is my tool set!

Not only am I no longer able to own my tools, but if I can’t pay ‘rent’ on those tools, I lose the tools and I also lose access to the files created by that set of tools. Adobe has effectively cornered the market and developed a proprietary file format (which you need Photoshop to work with) and now they will force those who need to upgrade to pay-as-they-go to be able to continue use of the most powerful creative software application in the world.

We own the artwork which we’ve created in Photoshop. Adobe should have no right to refuse an artist access to content that has been created in Photoshop because they can’t/won’t sell the software to the artist and the artist can’t afford the rental license. We’re buying a product, not a service. This isn’t internet, cable, Pandora, Spotify, Netflix, etc… this is a tool used to create. If we can’t pay any more, we lose both the tool and access to what was created.

Adobe, in adopting this rental policy, is behaving in a tyrannical way by forcing people into a system they feel is superior, limits the freedom of the software user, and effectively holds you hostage in a number of different ways. (What do you do when Adobe decides to change the pricing or the terms? You can no longer simply hang onto the version you own until you’re comfortable spending more for the latest version of Photoshop.)

Adobe, I love you, but I feel as if you’ve spent years getting me hooked on your software and now I have no choice (my files are native Adobe files) but to buy into CC. It’s almost like you’ve cheated on me in a strange inter-world, software-ish kind of way. Even if I was never going to purchase other ‘creative’ software, even if I can afford renting software, even if everything appeared to be perfect on the outside, this complaint stems from a deeper rooted concern with the idea of never owning my creative software-my tools-again.

Never owning definite (perpetual) access to my client’s files is mildly frightening and not fair for somebody who has dumped thousands of dollars into Photoshop and Adobe over the course of the past decade or longer. I love these applications more than my own children (I have no children.) I dearly hope that your team of gurus will take a long, hard look at CC and find a way to shed the blighted image that currently envelopes Creative Cloud in the eyes of the majority of consumers. Offer a real, long-term solution for your most loyal customers, new customers, and supporters. Maybe it’s just me, but Adobe/Photoshop CC seems to reek of dishonesty.

Eventually we will all have to upgrade to CC because of hardware compatibility, but whether 1 or 1 million are using it, that doesn’t change the “right-ness” of what is happening here.

Here is an interesting quote by Robert A. Heinlein in his book, “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress”:

“There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him.”

Tyranny and feeling forces. This is the underlying issue. Fix this and we won’t care about price, gimmick tools online, packages of software, or even The Creative Cloud itself. We would like to own the tools and the peace of mind that comes with that (i.e. perpetual access to the content we create.)

Pricing Woes

Instead of bogging you down with pricing-table-this, upgrade-price-that, single-app-price-if-you-own-CS6, etc… etc… Let me just say that if you spent $1000 on the full version of CS3 nearly ten years ago, even if these apps only cost $10 a month, you’d still have spent $200 more on your software.

These apps are not $10 a month. CC is more expensive. The consumer is the one who chooses when to spend, not the company selling to him.

If your current set of tools works you didn’t needed to upgrade until you felt the latest version of Photoshop was worth spending money on. In fact, according to CC, you pay for the ability to have every upgrade whether you want it or not. This is like paying for health care whether I want it or not, just because somebody else thinks it’s good for me. (Oh-no… I just went there. -Still, it’s a good analogy.)

Forced Upgrades

Because of the nature of the relative freedom I enjoy in my life no private company forces me to spend my money in a certain way-the Government, on the other hand-Whoa! They force me to do all kinds of things. When I wish to make a purchase, or upgrade a kitchen appliance, a lighting fixture, or even my internet service, I have the ability to request or purchase an upgrade when the provider makes something worthy of my cash. Makes sense, right?

I want to upgrade because that company offering the product/service has convinced me to spend, spend, spend by convincing the maniac, binge-spending, evil twin of myself that this upgraded product or service is better ( and often it is.) Adobe no longer has to convince me to buy their product, they will coerce me to upgrade if I buy into Photoshop CC. Think back to the Heinlein quote earlier. This is tyrannical. People hate this kind of thing. Plus, my binge-spending, evil twin is no longer consulted.

I also don’t want Adobe’s new upgrade to crash Photoshop right when I need it the most. That’s a pretty awful feeling.

Hey, I Can Afford Photoshop Now!

The one thing I do like about the rental is the ability to rent the software. What? Didn’t I just rip this very thing? I did. Renting is bad because we are losing that perpetual license, but if we can start by renting and work toward a rent-to-own model, that, in my mind, would be the best. More on that in a moment though.

Renting will enable kids, struggling business owners, and students to get started with Photoshop. They can treat it like a payment plan on something they’ve purchased from Best Buy. This would hopefully encourage more folks to buy into Adobe and stop pirating. I think this is a good thing. Adobe should be allowed to make money and make lots of it!

I worry when I know that I’ll only ever be a renter. Adobe ultimately controls the terms, and I am at their mercy to a certain extent. This brings me to where I think we can begin to see some kind of solution…

Potential Solution: Rent To Own

Let the user buy in on the ground floor at the low monthly rental price, but after a period of time, the user should own the software and never have to worry about losing access to the software or the creative files associated with Photoshop. Let us rent to own, Adobe. We want your products, they really are amazing, but your economics on this one are whacked.

Let us own what we buy. Forever.

You can throw any number of price points around, the fact that you lose the software and access to what was created by that software looms larger than anything in the Adobe Creative Cloud uproar.

I have to think that Adobe will address this in some positive way moving forward (they are, after all, a creative company) and we’ll all be able to relax a little (without the help of the Liquify tool) and enjoy what has been an amazing product throughout the years. This is no innovation. This is spawning a different evil twin inside of me. Your move, Adobe.

Oh, and everyone else, don’t scream at Adobe evangelists, product pushers, or Scott Kelby. Instead, write a stern email to Adobe, sign a petition, and-if you feel strongly enough about this-don’t upgrade to CC; this is party of the beauty of Capitalism.

Learn More!

Is Adobe’s Creative Cloud Only Model Unethical and Illegal? »
Howard Pinsky “My Thoughts on Creative Cloud” »


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  1. says: Skepteck

    Nathan I think you nailed the same points I feel about this Adobe direction. Couldn’t agree more. For a small business/freelancer, under this licensing package if you go dormant and temporarily drop the subscription for whatever reason, you lose access and practice with the tool skill set, despite a huge time investment in learning it in the first place. That is a definite no for me I’m afraid.

  2. says: MVilla

    Thank you. Well thought out and well written. It states exactly why so many of us dislike the Adobe CC model and why we won’t ever buy into it as it stands now. It also expresses our outrage at the behavior of a company that we the consumer once trusted and adored. I’ve posted the link to this page on Facebook. Thanks again!

  3. says: JValdez

    You are right on target. The very idea of CC is scary for many of us. It was only last month that I visited the Adobe site with the intention of updating my (gasp) CS3 to the current version, and ran smack into the new game plan. My intended purchasing extravaganza is now only an unfulfilled memory while I think this thing through, because retirement is not all that far away for some of us these days. To buy something outright is one thing for those of us who are planning to wind things down in the fairly near future, but to take on never-ending monthly bills is quite another. For now, it would be fine. In five years, I don’t know. They could have had my money.

  4. says: grumblepants

    I wish I could have read this without the obvious political slant. I’m all for having whatever opinion you want, just don’t inject it into situations that don’t have anything to do with politics.

  5. says: am05tom

    Very very true Nathan. I personally think this undervalues the design industry too because a few years a go only a professional could do high quality design with the professional but expensive software. Now you can get some 14 year old newbie say they can do the same thing (or try to anyway) just because they can afford the whatever a month. Dont get me wrong Its not that i dont agree to someone at a young age being able to do some of these things everyones got to start somewhere but if the software is only cheap to use to start with then the value is less worthy overall.

  6. says: Jayar

    I own CS3 and i’m completely fine with it. does this mean i cant just use that forever? i dont see any reason to upgrade. the new tools are very cool, (i’ve used CS5.5 and 6 trials) but i dont NEED them.

  7. I completely understand what you’re saying Nathan, but honestly, I don’t think Adobe is likely to fulfill your wish anytime soon. Primarily because they’re a greedy corporate organisation whose primary focus is on making a profit. I think this situation is inevitable for any company who makes a really great product that never breaks down. It’s Adobe’s take on ‘designed obselesence’ which is everywhere these days and is the bane of my life. If people continue to just use older versions, it would reach a point where nobody needs to buy their products anymore.
    That’s not to say I’m a fan of the new regime of paying a monthly subscription. I’m not. What I find annoying is their constant dabbling with proven features and the releasing of new versions onto unsuspecting users before any proper testing is done. It feels like they’re constantly in beta mode.
    So, while the new subscription model puts them back in control of their profit margins, this could spiral out of control if they continue to alienate their traditional customer base.

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