My Take: Adobe Creative Cloud, Office 365, Software Subscriptions, and Old Photos

OK, so I am taking the plunge. Sometime before the expiration of the July 31st cut-off for the CS6 migration promotion, I’ll be switching to Creative Cloud. Why? Feature-value.

I have been playing with an evaluation of Lightroom 5 (which coincidentally is the only product still available on a perpetual license). I’m sold. And now I want what’s coming in Photoshop CC. Why? I’ll let you be the judge.

Let’s start with a photo I took in 2006 when I was much more of a novice (though to be fair, I’m still a novice) in DSLR photography:

Image

It’s a nice photo. But it could be oh, so much sharper. Maybe, something like this – tweaked with the new filters in Lightroom 5:

Image

Now, I can’t wait to play with the even better features in Photoshop CC. I have a lot of good photos from my early days when I didn’t know what I was doing (and shooting only in JPEG with lower quality lenses and a much older body). The software has the potential to breathe new life into a lot of old “good” photos and make them “great” photos. The value is there. Sign me up. Especially while the CS6 promotion is in effect.

That said, the outcry over the subscription licensing is amazing. I have two perspectives on this. The first is from an industry direction. This is the wave of the future. Creative Cloud and Office 365 are the most mainstream examples. The trend started with lower end consumer services like ad-free versions of popular services as well as large enterprise Line-of-Business applications like Salesforce. Now “professional” and “mainstream” applications are filling in from the middle.

The pace of innovation in the technology industry no longer allows for multi-year ship cycles, but instead demands near real-time delivery. And the licensing models have to change as a consequence. Outside of the consumer mainstream, most organizations were paying for perpetual licenses and maintenance. The reality is that subscriptions are comparable – they just look different. And in some cases they are more cost effective. The biggest downside (and upside) is that you are turning a CapEx into an OpEx.

As a case in point, if you bought every Adobe Creative Suite upgrade + Lightroom upgrade the day it came out (e.g you’re committed to innovation, generally like me) – you are paying about the same per year as if you are signing up for Creative Cloud. You are just paying a big lump every year to year and a half, instead of every month. It feels different. But at the end of the day, it’s about a wash.

That being said, whenever you change how something works, there is the process of change management. This is where Adobe made a very polarizing move by forcing people to switch – and in a very short time. So far the bet appears to be paying off based on their recent financial results. Time will tell.

It could have been done with a lot more grace, however. Microsoft, who can do no right in people’s eyes no matter what seemingly, has done a much better job with Office 365. They have perpetuated their old business models. So there is no culture shock. If you want to keep doing things the way you have always done them, that’s great. But they have introduced substantial incremental value with Office 365. To-date, depending on the option, you get things like:

  • Office for iOS
  • Varying levels of Web/cloud features (e.g. – Skydrive storage, Web applications)
  • Cost/benefit of cloud infrastructure vs. running on-premise (the real benefit varies by organization/user)
  • Multiple desktop OS support (e.g. – you can be Web, Windows, or Mac or some combo)
  • Multiple device support (which is a huge first for Microsoft)
  • And more coming seemingly all the time…

This was a much better way to manage the change – as adoption is taking off and nobody is screaming much (yet).

In closing? I’m excited about breathing new life into a bunch of old photos, absolutely resolute that subscription models are the wave of the future, and convinced that the key to doing it right is having an elegant transition like Microsoft versus an electroshock like Adobe.

PS – In-Flight WiFi really rocks. Written over Montana at 34,000 feet on United 675.

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