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Business in Vancouver

Canadian Freelance Union- CEP

Adobe’s new software rental option could benefit small-business users

by  Alan Zisman (c) 2012 First published in Business in Vancouver May 1-7, 2012  Issue #1175 High Tech Office column

Why buy when you can rent?

No, this is not part of the eternal conversation about Vancouver’s housing market, but about software. In particular, the question is being asked by graphics and publishing powerhouse Adobe, which on April 23 announced availability within 30 days of the latest version of its professional design and editing software, Creative Suite 6 (CS6), accompanied by Creative Cloud, a service combining online storage with rental of the CS6 programs.

At first glance, it would seem to be to Adobe’s advantage to encourage users to buy one or another of its various CS6 collections – each combining a subset of the 14 Creative Suite applications (including the company’s flagship Photoshop photo editor, Premiere video editor, Dreamweaver web editor and other software) – ranging in price from $1,299 to $2,599.

At $50 a month to subscribe to Creative Cloud, it would take more than four years for Adobe to earn as much as if a user bought the $2,599 CS6 Master Collection.

On the other hand, software by subscription promises ongoing income to Adobe; too often – at least from the company’s viewpoint – customers buy a version of Creative Suite and then go on using it, ignoring subsequent newer releases.

To encourage users of older versions to jump on board, Adobe is discounting a Creative Cloud subscription to $30 per month for users of the CS 3, 4, 5 or 5.5 versions of its suites.

Plugging users into Adobe’s Creative Cloud could also reduce piracy of the company’s expensive software.
But what’s in it for users?

Individuals and companies that use Adobe software for photo editing, print or online design or video production and opt for Creative Cloud are guaranteed the current versions of the software – which Adobe claims will be on an annual upgrade cycle.

Unlike most Creative Suite buyers, Creative Cloud users have access to all 14 CS applications – for photo editing, print layout, web design, and video editing – and several new applications that are not included in the traditional Creative Suite packages. These include Edge for creating Flash-like content for HTML 5 – making it usable on Flash-challenged devices like the iPad – and Muse, a visual website editor. More Creative Cloud-only applications are promised.

If a company needs additional licences for a short period of time for a specific project, it can benefit from the rental model; Adobe offers Creative Cloud at $50 per month for an annual subscription or $75 on a month-by-month basis. Just need access to Photoshop or Premiere? They’re each available for $20 per month on a yearly contract.

Users needing access to the Adobe software for a short time can opt for a free month’s trial – though with a reduced two-gigabyte online storage, compared with the 20 gigabytes for paying customers.

Files stored online can be edited on multiple systems, synched with off-line versions, shared with other users and previewed without needing to install the CS applications.

A single Creative Cloud licence allows users to download any or all of the Creative Suite 6 applications and run them on up to two computers – though not at the same time.

The applications are available in Windows and Mac versions – and a user could potentially use a single licence on one Windows system and one Mac.

A $70-per-month Creative Cloud Team offering aimed at small-business users is expected later this year. Adobe is promoting the ability to start a project on a mobile device, fine-tune it using more powerful applications on a standard Mac or Windows PC and publish content to platforms ranging from print to the web to iOS and Android mobile devices.

Whether accessed through Creative Cloud subscription or more traditional Creative Suite licensing, the CS6 programs promise modernized user interfaces, simplified workflow between programs, HTML 5 output and faster processing.