(news & commentary)
Adobe’s US$9.99 a month plan that includes Photoshop CC, Bridge CC, and Lightroom 5 licenses was originally limited only to those who owned a previous copy of Photoshop (CS3 or later). Even then, educational and some other restricted license owners weren’t allowed into the program.
Starting today and running through December 2nd, Adobe is opening the US$9.99/month offer to everyone, regardless of whether you previously owned Photoshop or not. See what little details there are here. Or check out what an Adobe evangelist has to say here. Call it Adobe’s Black Friday (plus a few days) offer.
As usual with Adobe, their Web site seems to not be quite up to date on this offer. Their terms page has been updated to reflect the offer, but the FAQ seems to not fully reflect it. So what are the terms? You have to sign up through Adobe (Web or phone), you have to commit to a year (billed monthly), the contract will automatically renew at the end of the year, and you have 30 days upon signing up to get your money back in full if you decide it isn’t for you. Nothing new there.
My reaction to the first time this was offered (to current Photoshop users) was this was a reasonable price for the product (essentially US$120/year, which is less than what we were paying for updates every 18 months, and this now includes Lightroom). We don’t know what will happen in terms of pricing at the end of your first year (and remember, it automatically renews). Adobe has said that they don’t have any intention to raise the price in the foreseeable future, and this offer seems to indicate that they’re hungry for more customers, not higher prices, so I think that at least for the short term things are likely to stay stable.
So it’s now time for everyone to figure out what they’re going to do about Photoshop CC for the next year or more. You have until December 2nd to make up your mind or else you’re going to be paying a lot more if you ever need it in the future (probably). If you want to own a version of Photoshop CS6, you have an unknown amount of time until that stops being available, but you’ll slowly fall out of sync with new features and performance. Those are your choices if you want a brand spanking new copy of Photoshop. Your other choice, of course, is to just move away from Photoshop to something else.
Of course, this all comes on the heels of Adobe’s security breach, which caused my credit card provider to cancel and reissue a new card while I was traveling, a major hassle. Did I get an email from Adobe about this? Nope. Moreover, I continue to get people sending me transcripts of Adobe customer service “chats” with customers that, well, don’t reflect so great on Adobe’s front line employees understanding Adobe’s products, policies, and procedures. So there’s a “trust factor” you have to consider, too. Update: Adobe said that customers that were enrolled in higher-priced plans could switch without consequences. Adobe Customer Support doesn’t seem to know that, and will insist on penalizing you for early termination of another plan according to multiple instances I’ve now heard about. You need to escalate and get to the billing department, apparently, to get a “smooth” transition if you’re moving from a higher priced plan to this one.
My advice is still pretty much the same as before. If you’re satisfied with your current version of Photoshop, stick with it. To get new camera raw support you’ll have to jump through some extra steps by using the free DNG Converter, but for now that seems to work fine. If you’re worried about keeping up, then you’ve got to consider this new offer and make a decision quickly about it. I don’t see how Adobe can go lower than this without showing desperation to the investment community. I suspect that US9.99 a month for anyone will be as good as it ever gets because of that.
Which brings me to my last point: what if you got Photoshop CC at a higher price? Adobe says that they’ll move you to the lower price (indeed they say they’ve sent email to those folk already, though I’ve not heard about that from anyone yet). Expect a bit of a hassle if you have to do this through customer support agents. They seem to be the last to know what Adobe is doing.