The printing industry is about to go through another change. For many printers, Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator are major applications in the prepress department. Adobe has announced it will now distribute its popular Creative Suite applications via Adobe Creative Cloud for a monthly subscription fee. The changes will have a financial impact on many printers, especially those who have not upgraded their software over the years.
According to Wikipedia, cloud computing is the delivery of computing as a service rather than a product. Resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices as a metered service over the Internet. On the Adobe Creative Cloud, users will have instant access to the latest applications from any location and will be able to view, share, and sync files with other users. The new hub for Adobe’s print and Web applications will include 20GB of cloud storage.
Adobe Creative Cloud is expected to be unveiled in the first half of 2012 with the release of CS6. The release will also change the way Adobe has charged for application services. Adobe will move to a subscription plan, with monthly or annual plans for use of either individual applications or its entire collection. Costs will reportedly run from $29 a month for an annual subscription to a single application to $129 a month for the Master Collection. Month-to-month subscriptions will be higher. Official pricing will be released when the program goes live.
For customers who prefer to remain on the current licensing model, there will be a perpetual license available. Adobe had planned to limit perpetual license upgrades to current CS5 and CS5.5 users, but customer complaints forced a change. Now the company will offer upgrade opportunities to CS3 and CS4 users.
While no details had been released at press time, the upgrade offer is expected to run through the end of 2012. It is expected that pricing policies will attempt to steer users toward a subscription plan in the coming years. Whether a perpetual license will be available after 2012 is unclear.
Adobe had already introduced a subscription service for its software early in 2011. Current subscribers will be able to migrate to the Creative Cloud program.
What it Means
From the user’s standpoint, the Creative Cloud can be a good thing. Customers will be using the latest software and features, and upgrade costs will be eliminated. Being able to access files from the “cloud” should have a positive effect on productivity. It will be easier to transfer and work with others using the cloud.
Adobe isn’t the only software company moving to software distribution via the cloud. Microsoft rolled out Office 365 last year, in which Microsoft Office and email services are available online for $6 a month per user. If the Microsoft and Adobe subscription services gain traction among users, you can expect more companies to move to the monthly subscription model.
How a subscription service will be accepted by printing companies remains to be seen. Long a goal of software companies, subscriptions should eliminate piracy and help customers avoid upgrade fees that require a large payment about every 18 months.
There is little information available about how the Creative Cloud will affect users. What is known is Creative Cloud won’t require you to be connected to the Internet at all times. While some features need Internet access, normal applications will only require you to connect once a month.
Adobe’s change to a subscription service may have an economic impact on printers as well as causing confusion about dealing with legacy applications. There are still a lot of unanswered questions, but cloud computing is becoming mainstream. Printers will just have to be prepared to quickly modify their operating procedures to meet the situations going to the cloud will create and cover their costs.