The Creative Cloud Chronicles: Adobe Hits 1 Million Subscribers

By Chris Dickman
Founding Editor, Graphics.com

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There are earnings conference calls that CEOs dread and then there are the ones they can't wait for. No doubt Adobe head Shantanu Narayen would position yesterday's event firmly in the latter category, given that it was pretty much a romp through numbers that validated his bet on shifting Adobe to a subscription-driven company. As you can see, the stock is going through the roof, so it's going to be all hands on deck for the foreseeable future.

The big metric was of course topping the one million subscriber mark during the third quarter, which was in part ascribed to increased enterprise adoption. We tend to think of Creative Cloud in terms of individual subscriptions, forgetting that there are team and enterprise versions that have the potential to quickly increase the subscriber count.

No doubt quite a few were also the result of the recently-announced Photoshop Photography Program, which bundles Photoshop and Lightroom for $9.99 per month. A lot of them are also being generated by the various first-year special pricing offers that Adobe has employed adroitly since the launch of Creative Cloud to lower the barrier to entry. Will those testing the waters renew their subscriptions once their year is up? That's one of the biggest challenges Adobe now faces. To that end it really has no choice during this crucial period but to continually update and refine the offering, something we're tracking here on Graphics.com. For example, you can get a heads up of what has been added since the release of CC versions of the apps in June here and here, as well as in the Photoshop link above.

To encourage the sense of momentum, Narayen also confirmed that Adobe will be going ahead with the production of two devices that were shown earlier this year — Project Mighty, a cloud-connected pen and Project Napoleon, a digital ruler. The idea is that these will work with tablet apps, such as Adobe Ideas and Photoshop Touch, providing connectivity with Creative Cloud files. While Narayen didn't mention it, apparently two related projects are also in the pipeline, which Adobe elsewhere described thusly: "First, Project Parallel, a drafting iPad app designed and developed from scratch for the Project Napoleon hardware. The second, Project Contour, is essentially Kuler for shapes — take a photo of a favorite object or shape on an iPhone and access it with Napoleon on the iPad to simplify architectural line sketching, drawing and ideation. Together, they enable what we like to call 'straight line sketching,' a simple and expressive way of getting your creative ideas recorded." Sounds good. Unless you're an Android user, of course. Hello, Adobe, there are a lot of us out here! The pen, ruler and Parallel app are shown below.

Are You a New Creative?
Adobe simultaneously launched a new campaign called "I am the New Creative." This involves a series of self-portraits from the likes of Joshua Davis, Dylan Roscover and Anita Fontaine, with Project Mighty and Napoleon pegged as the first such tools for these brave new creatives. Which, if you follow the logic, excludes all Adobe customers using Android. The related clip below is rather pointless but kinda cool. Perhaps that was the intention.

The Create Now North America Tour
Adobe will be launching its latest tour to promote the wonders of Creative Cloud on September 19 in San Francisco, before moving on to Boston, Portland, Denver, Toronto (inexplicably, the only Canadian date), Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, Atlanta, New York, Las Vegas and Orlando before wrapping up in Seattle on December 4. These are half-day events during which Adobe "evangelists" demo what's new in Creative Cloud, followed by a brief period for asking questions. It sounds a bit thin but each event will award a free year of CC to one attendee, so why not? And of course you can always be pesky by asking when there will be an exit strategy to continue being able to open your files after the CC subscription expires. Tell 'em Graphics.com sent you.