The Creative Cloud Chronicles: A Cloud of Confusion
By Chris Dickman, Founding Editor, Graphics.com
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All has been quiet on the Creative Cloud front so far this week, not surprising given Adobe's recent rollout of new functionality for Illustrator CS6 and Muse. However, things will pick up soon when Adobe's Digital Publishing team briefs me on the upcoming addition of the Digital Publishing Suite, Single Edition. This solution, which enables InDesign users to create iPad apps for such things as brochures, portfolios and visually-intensive books, is a solid one and will add significant value to Creative Suite subscriptions. More on that next week.
A Cloud of Confusion
I guess naming Adobe's subscription service Creative Cloud seemed like a good idea at the time, cloud-based services being cool and all. But the problem is that Creative Cloud may in some way be creative but it has precious little to do with "the cloud," as this term is generally understood. Yes, a subscription includes cloud-based file storage but the applications themselves have nothing in common with the Software As A Service model associated with cloud-based computing. Instead, Creative Cloud members download and install apps such as Photoshop or InDesign in exactly the same way as those purchasing traditional desktop licenses. Despite this, many understand from the Creative Cloud moniker that a subscription provides more flexible licensing than that provided by the desktop approach. But does it?
As with desktop users, CC subscribers can install apps on two computers, and in fact have a significant benefit, in that these can be a mix of Mac and PC systems. But beyond that, everything gets fuzzy. Check out Adobe's forum devoted to CC download and installation issues. CC subscribers, and potential subscribers, are posting a stream of very precise questions about their work situations and are often receiving responses that fail to satisfy. This thread, devoted to questions about how Adobe determines what constitutes legal usage, is typical. It's well worth reading if you have yet to subscribe and are in a situation involving multiple computers at work, at home and on location with clients. Adobe should monitor this forum carefully and add responses accordingly to its current CC FAQ.
The Return of SWITCH
About a year ago Adobe offered Premiere Pro and the Production Premium suite at a dramatic discount for those with not only earlier versions of Premiere Pro but any of the applications within the suite, as well as a number of third-party applications. This offer has returned with an interesting twist, in that you can snag 40% off a CC membership, making it just $29.95 per month for the first year. I find the conditions for eligibility confusing but it's notable that those with dusty old Creative Suite 2 Premium or Standard qualify. Adobe really wants you to subscribe, so if you're a registered user of virtually any Creative Suite application, it's worth making a case for the upgrade. Engage one of the online chat support folks and see what you can wrangle. If this doesn't work out, you may still qualify for the reduced monthly price, since Adobe has apparently quietly extended its August 31 deadline for upgrading to CC from those with CS3 apps or suites (although the FAQ still indicates that this has ended).
Finally, if you think you might qualify for the Student and Teacher Edition of Creative Cloud, it seems as if that will set you back $29.95 not only for the first month but ongoingly. I say "seems" because Adobe's Buying Guide treats the $29.95 upgrade for current CS users as also good for more than one year, which isn't the case. Or is it? What a mess.
Adobe, please provide us with a clear and consistent explanation of the costs of purchasing or upgrading to Creative Cloud, as well as more detailed information about licensing. It would also be interesting to know why non-US members have to pay higher subscription rates. French members, for example, have to pay the equivalent of $78 per month, in contrast with $50 for American subscribers. What exactly justifies an almost 50% premium for those living in Europe?