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Is creativity really in the cloud?

For the first time ever Adobe is using a subscription model to license the company’s products. The Adobe Creative Cloud is an ongoing membership that allows users access to all the Creative Suite 6 Desktop applications, along with Adobe Touch app integration, file sharing, collaboration, publishing and feature upgrades upon release. As stated on Adobe’s website, the Creative Cloud is “revolutionizing creativity with one easy membership”. So is it really that easy?

The key to the Creative Cloud membership is cost. Where the Master Collection CS6 bundle costs a mere $2599 USD, the Creative Cloud Membership will run you $49.99/month (requires a 1-year contract) or 74.99 month-month (no contract required). Adobe also offers Student and Teacher Edition memberships at $29.99/month (annual-only plan) and Creative Suite 3.0 or later Intro Offers also at $29.99/month (requires a 1-year contract).

What to consider when doing the math is the purchase price of CS6 at $2599 will give you 4 years ($599.88/year) of Creative Cloud access to the most up-to-date versions of the software. Additionally, if Adobe releases CS7 within those 4 years you would look at an upgrade price of $525 plus the original CS6 price of $2599 equaling $3124 or 5.2 years of Creative Cloud Membership. Therefore, if you believe Adobe is not going to release CS7 within the next 5 years the advantage would go to purchasing CS6. But it seems like only yesterday all the hype was about CS5. Oh wait, it was only yesterday. So Adobe’s history of releasing new versions of their products before the old ones get fully realized plays well into their development of the cloud. Could this be serendipity?

Here’s how the Creative Cloud works.

It is built around a web portal tied to 20GB of cloud storage where saved files can be accessed from wherever you are with a connected service or app. To use the desktop applications you will first need to download the Adobe Applications Manager and then download and install the CS6 desktop applications onto your computer. These applications are not hosted on the cloud and are the same as the ones that come in the pretty box. The sweet part of this system is you can download the applications to your Mac and/or PC. That’s right, Adobe is not making you choose your platform. This is great for people who have a PC at work and a Mac at home. Product activation is fixed to your Adobe ID, allowing for a single subscription per account and the Creative Cloud checks every 30 days for active subscriptions.

What’s under the hood?


Desktop Applications

Adobe Acrobat® X Pro
Adobe After Effects® CS6
Adobe Audition® CS6
Adobe Dreamweaver® CS6
Adobe Edge preview
Adobe Fireworks® CS6
Adobe Flash® Builder® 4.6 Premium Edition
Adobe Flash Professional CS6
Adobe Illustrator® CS6
Adobe InDesign® CS6
Adobe Photoshop CS6 Extended
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4
Adobe Prelude™ CS6
Adobe Premiere® Pro CS6
Adobe Muse
Adobe SpeedGrade™ CS6

Adobe Touch Apps
Adobe Collage
Adobe Debut
Adobe Ideas
Adobe Kuler®
Adobe Photoshop Touch
Adobe Proto

It’s all so great, but is it really right for me?

If you have always craved the Adobe Master Collection, but have never wanted to shell out the bucks for it, then you better get your head in the cloud. In the long run, the cost per month for a membership will be less or equal to that of the Master Collection. Or say you only want to try the Creative Cloud for a short period of time, the $74.99 monthly, no contract membership fee is not as difficult to swallow as the $2599 right out of pocket cost would be.

The cloud isn’t for you if you only use Photoshop or Lightroom. Outright purchase of these products will be substantially cheaper than a Creative Cloud Membership.

What about the Creative Cloud Student and Teacher Edition membership?

You can only receive the 1-year $29.99 subscription rate if you meet Adobe’s eligibility requirements.

From Adobe.com

Customers who purchased the Student and Teacher Edition of Creative Cloud directly from Adobe will receive an email regarding revalidation 60, 30, and 7 days before their renewal date. The message will direct the customer to a validation page on Adobe.com.

If you are no longer eligible for education pricing, you can easily move to the standard membership. The revalidation email that is sent 60, 30, and 7 days before your renewal date will also include the option to elevate your membership. If you choose to do so, you will be directed to the Account page on www.creativecloud.com to sign up for the annual plan at US$49.99/month.

In Conclusion

As I stated the key to the Creative Cloud Membership is cost. If you can afford the Master Suite CS6 bundle and want it to be with you forever or you have a previous bundle and want to upgrade there is the potential for some savings. If you are new to all of the programs that Adobe has to offer in the Master Collection you need to consider the math and the rate at which Adobe upgrades their products. Who knows, we might be gearing up for CS8 in two years and Adobe will show us all for not following their lead. Honestly though, the Creative Cloud is going to offer many people access to programs that were previously out of their budgets and give them potentially limitless creative possibilities. So who knows, maybe this is the start of a creative revolution. Vive la Revolution!

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