November 21, 2011

Subscription vs. Purchase

I just received an offer from Adobe to upgrade from Creative Suite 5 Design Premium to Creative Suite 5.5 for $399 to buy, or $95/month for a year or $139/month, month to month to subscribe. Interesting idea, renting my software, but is it better?

Adobe averages an upgrade about every 1.3 years as best I can figure, some have been faster, like 5 - 5.5 some longer. So if I buy CS5.5 it's $399, if I subscribe for a year it's $1140 and if CS6 takes longer than a year to come out it would be more. Obviously if your a designer you know that Adobe Creative Suite is part of what you must have to do your job so subscription really isn't a benefit. However in some situations subscriptions might be an advantage. I was considering looking into getting an intern and one hang up is a lack of software for them, subscription might be an advantage there.

This deal came in the form of an email. I went to the link and a sales chat popped open and asked if they could help me with my decision. I assume subscription confuses people so Adobe is actively trying to help people with their decision. I went ahead and chatted with them and asked a couple of questions: (This isn't the whole conversation, just parts that pertain to this post).

Kenton: What does subscription mean?
Adobe: Kenton, purchasing the subscription is like renting the software.
Kenton: So what are the advantages of subscription?
Adobe: If you purchase the monthly subscription you can use it for any number of months and can cancel it when you do not need it.
Kenton: So what is the advantage of owning it?
Adobe: If you own the software, you will be eligible for any future upgrade.
Adobe: Once the latest version is released in future you can just pay the upgrade price and get the latest version.
Adobe: However, if you purchase the subscription, it is not eligible for an upgrade.
Kenton: If I subscribe to to CS5.5 for a year and in 9 Months CS6 comes out, can I subscribe to CS6 at that point and apply the 3 months left on my CS5.5 subscription to CS6?
Adobe: I am sorry, we do not have an option for that.
(Some of the information in this conversation is incorrect, please see the end for a correction from an Adobe Representative)

So it appears if you're a designer and you must have Adobe Creative Suite to do your job buying it is to your advantage. Your first purchase is a bit painful at over $1000, but once you have it the upgrade prices are easier to take. So keep that in mind when your asking for design school graduation presents.

Subscription based software is a growing phenomenon, I subscribe to the Wordpress Theme I use for most of my websites, (iThemes Builder). It will be interesting to see how this changes future of doing business as a designer.


Thanks to Jennifer Kremer from Adobe for posting the correct information in a comment. This makes a lot more sense and makes subscribing much better. Hopefully Jennifer will let the sales support team know there is a little misinformation going out over chat.

Here is some of Jennifer's comment:
...if you subscribe to CS5.5 now, when CS6 comes out you will automatically get CS6 via your subscription. You can learn more here:


Traci said...

Nice summation of your 'chat'. This is stuff people really need to know. If you're new at the game and just trying out the 'field' to see if it's for you, that's one thing. But as a professional in the field, a purchase is a must!

Great post, Kenton!

Jennifer Kremer said...

Hi Kenton,
I'm afraid some of the information from the live chat with Adobe was not totally correct. If you subscribe to the Creative Suite you will always be up to date on the latest version, that is a key benefit of subscription. For example, if you subscribe to CS5.5 now, when CS6 comes out you will automatically get CS6 via your subscription. You can learn more here

Also, be sure to check out the upcoming Adobe Creative Cloud membership which will give you access to all Creative Suite applications, Adobe Touch Apps, Services and more. This will be subscription based and available in the first half of 2012

We will be making more announcements about the Adobe Creative Cloud and subscription in early 2012.

Feel free to drop me a line if you have more questions - I'm happy to help!

Jennifer Kremer
Marketing Manager at Adobe

Braxton Wilhelmsen said...

Yeah. I don't really appreciate the subscription model. Just like with computer hardware technology, just because something faster and better comes along, doesn't mean I'm going immediately to upgrade. I'm still using CS5.5 and probably will until they come out with something better than cs6. I like a few of the new features they added, but it's hardly worth the upgrade money. I can still do my job very well with the software I have. So it's not a matter of whether it costs more to upgrade each time, it's more about how much it costs when I finally do upgrade. Also, if you get to know some folks who work at Adobe, you can trade some quick family photos for the master suite and call it good. That's the cheapest way of all. :D