By Renee Human
In the second of this three-part blog about MAX, let’s deal with Adobe’s move to a subscription model.
OK, this was the most controversial issue and the biggest surprise. I have to say, I liked the surprises in 2010 better when I got a Motorola Droid and a Google TV. (Ironically, I’m back to using that phone after I dropped my Razr in a body of water a few weeks ago, but that’s a different story.) Adobe’s announcement that they wouldn’t support previous versions of the Creative Suite and that from here on out, would offer only an all-in or all-out subscription based service.
Wait, hold that thought. The stewards are starting beverage service. (Yep, I’m still on the plane home from MAX if you read my first post. It’s a long flight home to Cincinnati.)
Ok, where were we? Oh, yes, the Subscription. Let’s talk about the good, the bad and the ugly, but not in that order.
Let’s start with ugly. First is the misinformation about the Creative Cloud. You don’t have to be online to use it. I’m seeing plenty of misconceptions about this on social media sites. You’ll need to be online to download installations and updates or to use the Cloud to share and move your files. Otherwise, you can use these products just like you used to and they will be downloaded and installed on your computer and devices.
However, I talked to one student who is also a Navy wife and she was a little worried about the connectivity issue. On the base, she explained, Internet connection is spotty at best because broadband is limited to satellite which is pricey. Another young woman explained that she has Internet at work, but not at home. She has an iPhone for Internet access there. But that’s also where she uses her Adobe products. I know most of the Adobe-ized world has not just access but high-speed access, and I know Adobe knows this as well. But these are two stories from the up-and-coming generation that hide in the statistics Adobe undoubtedly used to make the decision to go to online subscriptions.
The other ugly I’m seeing about going to the Cloud is that it’s not going to be released until June 17. As educators, this is a little rough. I was one of only a handful of educators that gets to go to MAX, so I saw some of the biggest changes and new features and products. But June 17 doesn’t give us much time to update curriculum and learn new stuff before the semester rolls around in mid August. For my program, that’s a pretty intense, short deadline given that we live on the bleeding edge.
Onto the bad: Even when I talked to the education sales people, I couldn’t get a clear picture of what this means for licensing for educational institutions. Part of that’s probably me. I don’t deal with that side of Adobe, and I’m sure part of it is the wait until June 17 to actually begin sales. From my understanding, there will be term- and an enterprise-based solutions. Students that don’t subscribe to the Cloud will still be able to get a free account with a minimal amount of storage. Apparently, there will also be an easier way for enterprise customers to install and for students to be able to log in (that’s good because we have students that aren’t serious designers or developers so they won’t want to invest).
Here’s another thing to think about Adobe: Many of us in education end our fiscal year in June and you just dropped a really big bomb on us and budgets that are already set. You might not see as many educational institutions switching over to CC this year for that reason because updating budgets in quasi-governmental organizations doesn’t come quickly.
Also on the not-so-happy side, I ate lunch on two days with some attendees that were really-not-happy because in their little freelance businesses they don’t upgrade every version. Or, they don’t use more than two products. Many of these people and others online report feeling highjacked. Adobe will be doing one-product subscriptions, but by the time you do two products, you might as well subscribe to the whole CC. I’m probably not going to see much of that side, since we are on the educational side of heavy Adobe users.
Whew. Ok. Where is that steward? I need a drink.
Time for the good news: The Cloud will provide updates on a steady basis. No more trying to keep up with the latest version. It should be much easier to standardize labs across campus because we’ll all have the latest and greatest. And reportedly, installation will be much easier to push out on the enterprise solution.
Of course the social aspects I mentioned in the last blog post are also good news for educators for several reasons. As is the access to more products. As one attendee told me, she was excited to dive into Premier and After Effects “since she was now going to get it whether she liked it or not”. Will we see our students branch out of their product limited world and experiment more? It’s hard to say. I’ll report back in a semester or two.
One of the other good aspects to the Cloud is that this is going to push Adobe to keep innovating. I was worried when this MAX got pushed from the usual November conference to May. Now I see why. Ten minutes in Dreamweaver and you know what Adobe has been up to. Rethinking the web/mobile workflow is producing not just terrific new products like the Edge tools, but the Dreamweaver experience is vastly better if you do any CSS at all. Hopefully, this is a trend we will continue to see. If more new and innovative tools come out of this subscription model, the monthly charge will be well worth it.
Plus, my students don’t seem too fazed. One of them pointed out how the MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Play Gaming, but you probably already knew that) has operated quite successfully on the subscription model for years. Subscriptions and micropayments are fast becoming the norm, even if Adobe did cut to the chase faster than most other software developers and really cut to the front of the line for a company of this size with this many members.
We’ll see what the shake out is. I’m sure Adobe isn’t surprised by the grumbles or the praise. Anything you try something new, there’s going to be push back. When the telephone became available to the masses, one of the prevailing attitudes was that people would never leave their house again. When the VCR came out, supposedly no one would ever go to the movies again.
Wow. That was a long post. Onto the most exciting part of the conference for me in the third and final blog post: The support and development of new open-source solutions, better web tools and the updated multiplatform options for Flash.