It's been a week since the announcement that Adobe Creative Cloud would be the only path forward for Photoshop. I've tried to find value in this arrangement, and only one path comes to mind.
The Death of Trust
As a user of Photoshop and Lightroom, the Adobe Creative Cloud simply doesn't provide value. Even when you consider the single-app price for Photoshop and the ability to use Lightroom outside of Adobe Creative Cloud, it's still an enormous price hike with very little benefit. Even Adobe's own executives admit that they don't think they have a solution for photographers. They charged ahead, willing to leave this dedicated audience behind. In the greater scheme, we weren't important enough to hold off until they could figure it out.
There's always been a sense of trust among consumers that they could own the things they bought. If there were new versions of a product, existing owners would be get to upgrade at a reduced cost. This was particularly true of expensive, professional software. Although there's never been any written guarantee of upgrades, Adobe broke that trust and the public outcry ensued. They gave no fair warning that this was coming “down the road.” Customers didn't feel they had time to prepare. Had Adobe come forth last year and said “This is the last time you can buy a perpetual license version” of a Creative Suite product, I doubt they would be facing such a backlash right now.
Then again, Adobe upped the ante by creating a truly despicable EULA to go along with Adobe Creative Cloud. Most EULAs are not very consumer friendly, but they aren't as intrusive and one-sided as the EULA you have to swallow to use its new service. In my view, the EULA is reprehensible.
We know that businesses exist to make a profit. Most successful businesses seem to understand that you do that by building customer trust and happiness so they come back for repeat business. Apparently, Adobe found another trick to get around trust and they threw a faithful audience under the bus.
In doing so, Adobe accomplished something I never thought possible. They made it so that Google didn't seem to be the most evil company in the world.
The Attack upon Scott Kelby
After the response to Scott Kelby's post on Adobe Creative Cloud, I started to wonder if Adobe wasn't right to alienate photographers as a customer base. There are nearly 600 comments in response to his post filled with some of the most vile, vulgar and hateful speech I've found in a long time. Were I an executive at Adobe and saw how those folks turned on a man who has tried to represent their interests to Adobe in the past, I'd tell the bon Voyage and throw a party for the video and designer crowd who appreciate Adobe Creative Cloud.
Many of the worst comments seemed to be from pseudonyms, which is pretty much the mark of a coward. They want to vent anger like a child without assuming any responsibilities as an adult. It's fine to disagree, but there's a way to do it without losing your dignity.
I think some folks forget that popular personalities are people, too. Scott has a wife and family. He works, he has bills to pay and breathes air just like the rest of us. The fact that you see him in training sessions or on podcasts doesn't change his status as a human being. He has feelings like the rest of us, as do his family and friends who were stunned by some comments on his blog. Imagine a caravan of people going to someone's home to denigrate him over and over again. That's the equivalent of what happened on his blog. It was childish and some of it just inhumane.
After giving it some thought, I have a theory on why the post didn't sit well with many people. As Scott mentioned on The Grid the next day, he knew this was coming and had time to process it. Every complaint he read about the change brought by Adobe Creative Cloud is one that he shared with Adobe before the announcement came out, but Adobe ultimately decided to go ahead. By the time of the announcement last week, Scott accepted it.
Many of the rest of us were still processing the change. We were mad as hell, most everyone else we knew was made as hell, and we waited to see what the president of NAPP would say. Scott wrote in his usual style, corrected many misconceptions about the Adobe Creative Cloud, and announced he signed up for it a few weeks after it came out.
So why was everyone upset? I think it's because of the difference in tone and state of mind. While many readers were processing this new information and angry about it, Scott wasn't. There was nothing wrong with the information in his post, but the tone of it went awry in the minds of angry readers.
I've experienced this kind of reaction to some of my writing online before. In my mind, I wrote something simple and straight-forward. Some readers then take it as insensitive and insulting. That's because they have a different conversation in their mind than I had in mine. This is particularly true of emotional subjects. After last week, I doubt anyone would disagree that the conversations were emotionally charged. So while Scott had already accepted it, the readers had not and many reacted poorly to something that he wrote in his typical style. It wasn't a problem with the content. It's just that the tone clashed with the emotions happening in the minds of readers.
As a result, some made those vile posts. If that's how they express themselves, then the photographic community is better off without them.
How to Find Value in the Adobe Creative Cloud
Using a single app, whether it's Photoshop or another in Adobe's stable, just isn't a good value compared to the previous model. That's understandable and the root of so much emotion. However, that older model is dead. You're left with a few choices:
Stick with your existing software and realize that Adobe won't provide you with a path to move forward with new features
I've read comments from plenty of people who are taking this approach. For the short-term, I don't think it's a bad idea. Many users skip an upgrade cycle. The new features offered in Photoshop are pretty weak for photographers, so it doesn't really hurt to stick with what you have and wait to see what comes up down the road. It's certainly a strategy I've considered.
The downside of this, and it's a short-term downside, is that you can't take advantage of any discounts for the first year designed to entice you into the Adobe Creative Cloud. After July 31st, those discounts disappear.
Find another software package
A number of people said they would switch to GIMP. My own foray with finding another package was to check out Pixelmator. I can tell you that I really like it, too. I have absolutely no hesitation to suggest Pixelmator to most hobby/enthusiast photographers who don't do a lot of complicated work. In fact, I would certainly recommend it over Photoshop Elements. It's less expensive and you help encourage competition for Photoshop. You can expect that I'll use Pixelmator on some of my photos in the future.
It's still not Photoshop, though. As I noted in my post about Pixelmator, there are some convenient tools in Photoshop that were lacking in Pixelmator. It isn't a matter that you can't overcome them, but it slows down your workflow. It's also Mac-only software, making it a non issue for Windows users.
Accept the higher price of a Single-App license with Adobe Creative Cloud
You can accept the fact that you need or want Photoshop. If you're going to stay current, this is your only way to do so. The price just shot up for you. That happens. Sometimes products rise in price. Adobe isn't doing you any favors at all. If you buy it, it's because you don't like the previous alternatives and you're just choking back the outrageous price increase.
Dive in deeper and get the full Adobe Creative Cloud suite
The folks who are happy with Adobe Creative Cloud are those who either have never spent the money on it before, or use multiple Adobe products and now see this as a less expensive way to get the software. For this crowd, Adobe Creative Cloud is a value.
Although I've not committed anything yet, I'm starting to think this is the path that I will eventually take – at least for the first year. Considering the discounts, it's an opportunity to try out some software at a relatively low cost of entry. I was already thinking of trying InDesign for some new eBooks. My previous efforts created with Apple Pages are functional, but I'm not thrilled with the layout options and I believe InDesign will give me greater capabilities – assuming it isn't overly difficult to learn.
Premier Pro is another product that caught my eye, though I was also considering Apple's Final Cut Pro X. That isn't because I intend to become a movie maker with my DSLR. Instead, I have ideas for some screencasts and I'd like to have a better final product than I can make with iMovie or ScreenFlow.
When I consider that Adobe has products that can help me and the cost of entry is no longer a barrier, Adobe Creative Cloud starts to have more value to me than when I considered it solely for Photoshop and Lightroom. I still have my license to use Photoshop CS6 if I decide that the other products no longer interest me. There's also the possibility that the market conditions will change. It's hard to see the future.
My solution may not be right for you. It's a bitter pill to swallow and Adobe managed to turn me from a loyal and supportive customer into one that detests the corporation. Yet, like an addicted Facebook user, they know many of us will accept the new terms because this is the place to be.
As someone who keeps a business related to photography, Photoshop is still an indispensable tool. Staying with Photoshop CS6 will only work for so long and my business needs will dictate the tools I need to use. I just hate that it came about in such a way, because Adobe could have handled this so much better.