Adobe & the Creative Business Model

There’s been a boring amount written about Adobe’s move to the cloud this week, but there are two aspects I think could do with a little more focus.

The first is piracy.  TechCrunch had a very brief mention of it in their interview with Adobe’s David Wadhwani:

One aspect of Creative Cloud that Adobe hasn’t really talked about publicly is also that this change could prevent quite a bit of piracy. Making Photoshop and its other creative tools more affordable means that it’s now often easier for users to just pay a monthly subscription fee than to pirate the software. He also believes that all the extra services, including Behance, storage, syncing and many of the new tools the company has in store will get people to see that the value in subscribing to Creative Cloud goes beyond the tools.

I’ve always been under the impression that Adobe were somewhat comfortable with the level of piracy they experienced on the assumption that the pirates of today turn in to the customers of tomorrow.  They never made it particularly difficult to defeat anti-copying measures in their products.

There also seemed to be this understanding that many of the people pirating tools like Photoshop weren’t really doing commercial work, but were learning their trade.  Eventually they would work for companies who would be paying customers.  It’s piracy that’s made Photoshop the defacto standard in the industry and I wonder whether cutting this off will ultimately be a decision they regret.

And something to consider.  Photoshop is £18 per month, the full Creative Cloud £50.  Pixelmator, a very competent (it doesn’t have feature parity, but the interface is better and it’s quicker) Photoshop competitor costs less than a single month of Photoshop at the moment.  Acorn, another competitor is currently priced at just over a month and a half of photoshop.  When you put things in those terms, it all seems a little mad.

The other thing I wanted to highlight was how this shift in business model isn’t an option for Adobe’s customers, as delightfully highlighted by today’s What The Duck.