Subscription based software? No, thank you!

It’s been a long time since Adobe stopped offering perpetual licenses for their software. Users have to pay a subscription fee annually or monthly, in order to use any of Adobe’s applications. Adobe enforced a “take it or leave it” policy, knowing that it has essentially the monopoly on digital asset management and it seems that, so far, this policy is paying off like a charm!

“Adobe announced that by moving to cloud-based subscriptions they will have a better handle on software piracy, be able to better update the application as needed, and cut their development and distribution overhead.” The actual reason is that, in the past, if Adobe released an upgrade of their software that didn’t fit your workflow, you could keep using the version you had and wait for the next version before you spend your money. Adobe obviously wasn’t thrilled with that, so they realised that a subscription licensing model is the only way to continue bringing in a substantial cash flow. Adobe’s CFO, Mark Garrett, clearly, stated: “The move to subscriptions just drives a bigger and bigger and bigger recurring revenue stream”.

Along with the software, users are forced to pay for “100GB of cloud storage, their own portfolio website, premium fonts, and social media tools”. Do all users ask or claim to need these? Do they have to pay for things they never asked for? Why don’t they have the option to buy or even to rent only what they need? Why would they want to pay for keeping their work to a company’s cloud storage, knowing that they will loose everything, if they decide to cancel their subscription? Beside all these, the real controversy is the pricing, which is stunningly complex. “The fees may be higher or lower depending on how many programs you rent. If you use three or more Adobe programs and you upgrade to the latest versions every year, you’ll save money by renting. But if you use only one or two programs, you’ll pay much more by renting!”

In Greece, for example, a photographer that uses Photoshop and Lightroom, can choose the special plan of 298€ annually. If someone uses only Photoshop, he also pays 298€(!) annually. And if a graphic designer uses Photoshop and Illustrator, he pays 596€(!!) annually. In other words, a 2-year subscription costs almost the same money as the old perpetual license, for both applications!

This cost is unbearable for small business and independent freelancers who are already suffering in a recession economy. Apart from that, Adobe raises the prices without reasonable explanation, due to “currency fluctuations” in many countries all over the world. (In Greece, according to euro – dollar currency, Photoshop should cost 250€ annually, inclusive of VAT, yet it costs 298€ and nobody knows why. Some users reported that their subscription increased by 46% overnight, while others have to deal with an extraordinary 100% raise within 2 years.

No wonder why thousands of Adobe users are upset. To be blunt, it’s not only a matter of money, but also a matter of business ethics. There are great alternative software for professionals, that do not enforce to subscription policy and the customers are able to buy a product and be aware of what they paying for.

Affinity Photo (Mac and Windows) is Photoshop’s best alternative. It costs only 55€ and it’s license is perpetual without subscription. As a professional I use Affinity Photo for over a year I definitely recommend it, if anyone wants to leave Photoshop.  CorelDRAW is Illustrator’s best alternative for Windows and Mac. It’s offered as a part of ColerDRAW suite, which includes Corel PHOTO-PAINT as an alternate to Photoshop.  Affinity Designer (Mac & Windows) is very promising, but for now, Illustrator is years ahead, when it comes to the overall tool set and capabilities. Capture One Pro, is the best reason to ditch Lightroom. (All applications have trial versions)

What I would definitely recommend to a professional, for illustration, drawing, painting, hand lettering or calligraphy is this: Invest your money in an ipad Pro and Apple pencil, and pay only 32$ to buy Procreate and Affinity Designer for Ipad. AD for ipad is a powerful tool, that combines image and vector editing in one application!

Maybe we are standing in the beginning of ‘Software as a Subscription’ era. Microsoft and Corel are conducting a similar experiment with the latest version of their software. But there’s a major difference: renting their software is optional. You can still buy it if you prefer. “Adobe isn’t offering the rental plan — it’s dictating it.” Beside this, Creative Cloud is a very smart way to have the control over user’s creative work. My artwork belongs to me, to my clients, to the community. Not to a corporation.

Fun fact:

I read many comments from users during my web research. There are many people who think Adobe’s policy suits them and this is totally fine. Sadly, a large percentage of these people speaks as if they own Adobe or they are some kind of elite, “blessed” with this new policy, because they pay for this totally perfect software and every other software is worthless, and praise the fact that finally this policy shows who are the real professionals, because not everyone should be able to use it “just to edit photos with their cats”!
Guys you haven’t realised it yet, but Adobe’s policy enslaves you to pay for these products forever! So as Brad Trent said “if you don’t mind a tax on your creativity, that will last until they plant your @ss in the ground, feel free to keep paying


David Pogue, “Software as monthly rental”

David Pogue, “Adobe’s Software Subscription Model Means You Can’t Own Your Software

Tom Paye, “Backlash begins against Adobe’s subscription-only plan”

Brad Trent, “Why we all must fight Adobe and stop the Creative Cloud”

Matthew Hamphries – “Adobe will try anything to stop a Creative Cloud cancellation”

Neil Bennett –  “Confusion over Adobe Creative Cloud price rises”

David Snelling – “Adobe Creative Cloud price rise – anger as UK subscription deals soar”

Software reviews:

Is Affinity Photo About to Replace Adobe Photoshop? – Envato

CorelDraw Graphics Suite X7 – PCmag

CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 2017, First Take: AI-assisted sketching is the big draw – ZDnet

Lightroom or Capture One Pro, Which RAW possessor is the best? – Fstoppers