It's Not About Price

(commentary)

Adobe's change to the cloud has a lot of you complaining about pricing. A company can (and should) try to charge what it feels is fair value for something, and their idea of the "right price" won't always agree with the customer view. We as customers speak about bargains, fair value, and highway larceny about all products. We can debate whether Creative Cloud is a bargain, a fair value, or an overreach by Adobe, but we'd be doing that whether we were talking about CC or CS7 pricing. The price is established and out there, you can choose to not partake because you think it's too high, or you can opt for it because you perceive it to be okay. That's always been your choice as a customer.

The real issue here is the transition from ownership to renting. Ironically, Adobe may have just made your already-purchased older software more valuable, as people will be seeking out "for sale" versions, even used, to make sure that they always have access to their data files. It's called "residual value," and products you buy often have some, while products you lease or rent never have any. 

But there's another residual value besides just dollars and cents: the value associated with being able to continue to access your data files. Now, Adobe has in the past done things that helped people keep access to their data files. When they turned off the authorization server for one of their older, non-supported versions of Creative Suite, which stopped people from being able to reinstall, they provided a version that could still be installed. So I think Adobe understands it's not in their interest to cut off customer access to files. The problem is that some people are worried about Adobe itself. If it were no longer around for some reason, then what? 

This isn't a moot point. It's actually an important one. OS versions and computers keep changing. But not everyone is on the "update everything all the time" train, nor should they be. Indeed, the group that's hardest hit by Adobe's decision is the older hobbyist, who doesn't have the budget (often in retirement) to be upgrading everything at every iteration, nor the time to learn new interfaces, features, or processes (I'm looking at you Windows 8). 

There's always been this delicate balance in a software company: at some point you have to stop supporting older hardware and OS versions. At the same time, you can't assume that every one of your customers will just update everything to keep up with your software. Plenty of companies have been on the wrong side of the "best possible balance" line over the years, and if you get too far from it, you get a heck of a lot of customer negativity in response. That appears to be one of the things that is happening here. 

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