Is Adobe still trying to screw us Photographers??

So here we are – Adobe has officially made their Photoshop Photography Program available for purchase online. If you already own Photoshop CS3 or higher you are eligible for a Creative Cloud membership for just $9.99/month that includes Photoshop CC, Lightroom 5, 20GB of online storage, access to creative cloud training resources, and ongoing upgrades and discounts.

But wait till you read the fine print!

Does Adobe's new Photographer Subscription Plan now work for you? Sound off in the comments below.

In addition Adobe has promised that the $9.99 is “not an introductory price. It is the price for those of you who sign up by December 31, 2013.” (You can read that quote from Adobe here).

Remember, $9.99 is not an intro price and is THE price going forward. Or is it??

Photoshop fan-boys have been rejoicing and dancing in the streets for this, and everyone in the Photography community is expecting to get Photoshop and Lightroom Creative Cloud subscriptions for just $9.99 per month for as long as they maintain their membership. Below is an answer from their FAQ here.

Ok Adobe I am now led to believe $9.99 is the price I will pay as long as I maintain my membership.

Note how clearly they state that, “this price is not a special introductory price for your first year only; it is the standard price for this level of membership. But if you cancel your membership in the future, you will not be able to re-join at this special price.”

So it is a lock, right? I get Photoshop CC and Lightroom 5 for life for $9.99 as long as I maintain my membership.

But wait, there’s more…

In my email inbox today I find these 2 emails. Note the highlighted areas.

Wait a second - that doesn't seem like forever.


Let us take a look at this in detail.

As Adobe clearly states above, “all for US$9.99/month for as long as you continue your membership.”

But taking a look at the fine print under Renewal it clearly states, “After the first 12 months, we will automatically renew your contract based on the current price of the offering.”

Whoa wait a second. That seems to completely contradict their first statement. Where is my $9.99/month for as long as I continue my membership??

Let us take a look at the other email I received today. I received this other email because I subscribed to the single app Photoshop for $9.99 for the first year under their initial CC plan offerings before they announced the Photoshop Photography Plan.

Adobe promo email - umm

How nice – they automatically upgraded me to the Photoshop Photography Program.

They even remind me that, “Your current membership price of US$9.99/month is not changing, and it’s no longer for your first year only – it’s now your standard price going forward.*”

But then in the fine print, it says, “At the end of your current 12-month contract, you will automatically be renewed based on the then-current price of this offering.”

Again Adobe claims a price of $9.99/month as long as I continue my membership, but then adds that after a year I will be renewed based on the current price.

How can they do that?

I wondered the same thing, so I called Adobe. The first time I called it said I had a wait time of 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes before I could speak to someone. Wow!

I called back, tried different extensions, and after a 13 minute wait I got ahold of a sales rep for the Creative Cloud. I asked him first what happens to my subscription after one year because it seems like it should stay at $9.99 but also looks like it will change.

His response was, “yes that is the price for the year and we don’t know what it will be in the future.”

When I asked how can they say the price will stay the same, yet change he said he needed to put me on hold and go get the answers. I hung up after waiting 30 minutes for him to return to the conversation.

So what does this mean?

Note the key wording above from the FAQ on Photoshop Photography Program where it says, “the standard price for this level of membership.”

This has to be key for Adobe. “This level of membership” includes Lightroom 5 and Photoshop CC. Come next year, do they keep this level of membership (Photoshop CC and Lightroom 5) and add a new level of membership for newer products, say Photoshop CC2 and Lightroom 6 for $19.99/month?

That is probably my guess – if you want to continue at $9.99 you will be stuck with old software and they will come out with a new CC yearly contract plan for more money and for the current versions – again purely a guess but I can’t see any other way in this.

Yet another reason why I can’t stand what Adobe is doing with the Creative Cloud subscription and why I continue to not recommend the Creative Cloud for most photographers.

What do you think? Is Adobe screwing us photographers yet again? Does anyone really trust Adobe anymore?

Sound off in the comments below.


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  • Ray Andrews September 19, 2013   Reply →

    What gets me is that this is the price for existing users only. Why ? It’s not like they offer the standard model any more so they are not going to recoup or loose with this special pricing. The money brought in for pre-CC purchases is done, it’s gone, it’s accounted for.

    Some bean counter at Adobe figured that $9.99 / month was enough to pay for future development. They’re not going to affix an ongoing cost that will lose them money just as a “thank you” for previous customers. So if $9.99 / month will make them money, wont it make them money for everyone and not just previous customers ?

    If however I am wrong and Adobe is actually willing to take a loss as a “thank you” for previous customers. then what Adobe is basically telling ALL of their new customers is that they’re forever going to be subsidizing the cost for people who bought a program possibly years in the past.

    • Matt Suess September 19, 2013   Reply →

      Ray – Adobe isn’t interested in taking a loss – that’s for sure. Their ultimate goal is to get everyone on the full-price subscription plan. What they are doing now is a little damage control in hopes everything blows over – if they feel they need more damage control they will extend offer to everyone pre-CS3 – but I wouldn’t hold my breath for it.

  • Joshua HIlton September 19, 2013   Reply →

    Yep, you are right. Adobe is out to screw it’s customers. I’m so glad I stopped to read your sensationalizing, condescending and biased post. Next you are going to tell me how horrible it is to have subscription program at all.

  • Jonathan September 19, 2013   Reply →

    I think it’s complete BS, that’s what I think. This is what happens whenever a monopoly or de facto monopoly is allowed to exists unchecked for an extended period of time.

    Adobe is not really at fault here. Those at fault are the design firms and rich hobbyists who allowed Photoshop to become the “standard” which sidelined most of the competition. Once upon a time a little application called Paint Shop Pro was making great strides and becoming a serious contender to Photoshop, that is until Corel bough it out and promptly ruined it, ceasing to add any useful features in the entire time they have owned it, failing to fix problems with existing ones, etc.

    I think the door is presently wide open for a serious competitor to Photoshop to emerge. We shall see.

    Now I am going to do something I cannot believe I am doing. I am doing to defend Adobe. I was as angry as anyone, but I am starting to come around. This video changed my mind a bit: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/interview_with_thomas_knoll.shtml

    In it they make a point that under the “monolithic” upgrade cycling there was pressure from the marketing department to produce new “whiz bang” features to sell upgrades, and as a result existing features got neglected and never updated. With the subscription model the engineers can improve the software incrementally over time without pressure from the marketing department to deliver “big features”. People who are subscribed will stay subscribed, people who don’t need Photoshop won’t, or they’ll steal it like they always have.

    And in the end I guess that’s okay. I do that this $9.99 price should be for everyone. When you can have every major Adobe offering for 50 bucks a month, 20 per month for just Photoshop is way out of line. One the plus side a monthly fee is much easier to write off than a capital cost.

    • Matt Suess September 19, 2013   Reply →

      hmmm – without watching the video yet, my take is that Adobe has run out of ideas – I mean really, how much more improvement can be made? Photoshop CC’s “killer” feature is to remove camera shake? Try a tripod or higher shutter speed – the percentage of photos this effects is so small… The engineers should be pressured to improve the software. Having pressure is good – it keeps people motivated. With no pressure, people and companies become lazy – especially those raking in the dollars each month instead of each upgrade cycle.

      The other issue with subscriptions – more so with Lightroom than Photoshop – is that you are dealing with proprietary catalogs. Photo Mechanic or onOne is not going to be able to open that catalog. This is great for Adobe – get them hooked on the product, make it subscription only to take the “pressure” off the engineers, eventually raise prices, and make it so they can’t leave and if they want to it would be such a pain in the butt that people would ultimately decide not to.

      In a weird sort of way I am glad Adobe is doing this because this is the best news for competition. Now photographers may get the chance to learn one just may not need Photoshop or Lightroom to work on photos, and photogs will learn that there is other great software out there pushing the envelope and advancing photography. In the end we may all benefit.

      • Jonathan September 19, 2013   Reply →

        I think you’ve hit the nail on the head though, there really is *nothing* that need to be added to Photoshop at this point, so the pressure to create the “whiz bang” feature no one needs has become a problem. With a subscription model, this pressure is gone so Adobe can concentrate on fixing or improving older features. I’m going to take them on their word on this, time will tell if they deliver on this promise.

        And of course, as you’ve said, this is the perfect opportunity for the competition to swoop in an steal some customers away, but if they are going to do that they had better deliver a top notch product. I have tried to move away from Photoshop in the past and I always end up coming back because the competition just isn’t even trying. The GIMP for all the hype just sucks quite frankly, Paint Shop Pro has turned into a bloated buggy mess and STILL doesn’t support 16 bit images in any meaningful way. Corel PhotoPaint hasn’t been updated in 10 years, literally, it’s basically just updated for compatibility and that’s it! There’s a few other and all have been equally disappointing.

        I have played around with Pixelmator for Mac and it is promising for sure, but again it doesn’t support 16bit, and I don’t have a Mac (yet!).

        I can see your point about Lightroom and proprietary libraries. This doesn’t affect me as I have personally never seen the sense in locking myself into such things, Windows Explorer or Finder on Mac is all the library I need, especially now that Finder in the next version of OS X will support tags, that’s all I need. So yeah, I never found Lightroom compelling in the slightest when Camera Raw does the same thing and I have Photoshop actions for automation.

        • Matt Suess September 19, 2013   Reply →

          Jonathan – you didn’t mention onOne Software – have you tried Perfect Photo Suite yet? Depending on what you still need photoshop to do, you might just find Perfect Photo Suite can replace it.

          • Jonathan September 19, 2013  

            I gave it a try and I can’t see how it qualifies as a Photoshop replacement in any way. It’s basically Instagram for the desktop.

          • Matt Suess September 19, 2013  

            Perhaps you only downloaded Perfect Effects instead of downloading the full Perfect Photo Suite? The complete Suite is much more than an instagram type. Has all the normal color correcting tools, a module for portraits and skin/face enhancements, black and white conversions similar to Silver Efex Pro, a masking module, an image browser, an excellent image resize module (powered by Genuine Fractals), full multi-layer support and masking, and the effects module. For many photogs (not all of course) this is really all they need.

          • Jonathan September 19, 2013  

            Nope, I definitely downloaded the full suit. It’s a glorified wizard. I agree that for many that’s all they need, but I certainly found nothing appealing about it.

          • Matt Suess September 19, 2013  

            ok – fair enough.
            It is a completely different workflow and look than Photoshop – which let’s face it, has really looked pretty much the same since it came out. And there are definitely a handful things PS can do that the Suite can’t. That’s why I did the Photoshop subscription for a year – interesting to see how this all plays out.

          • Jonathan September 19, 2013  

            Don’t get me wrong, I can see how it would be useful to certain people, I just don’t think that is qualifies as a “Photoshop replacement”. I’d argue that the Photoshop workflow/interface hasn’t changed because it doesn’t need to, it works, and it makes sense. Change for the sake of change is NEVER good (witness Windows 8… …unless you like windows 8 in which case I don’t know what to say).


          • Matt Suess September 19, 2013  

            lol actually I have been Windows free since 2001 😛

          • Jonathan September 19, 2013  

            Good for you. I’ve been a die-hard and never thought I’d switch. Until Windows 8, now I can’t wait to be done with it.

  • Danielle Caro September 25, 2013   Reply →

    A lot of software seems to be going to the subscription model.

    I used to know everything there was to know about Photoshop. Now I don’t even recognize it. I guess I’m a noob again. I got the full Creative Cloud last December half price for a year or some deal like that. I used GIMP on windows before that and had LR3-4 and Apple’s stuff. It is a good deal (I’m talking full suite) for someone like me who wanted PS and a couple others and happened to be looking for web hosting. I did the math and for a year, it was far less than outright buying what I really wanted. There were other things I wanted but wasn’t willing to pay for and I got those too so I like it. Turns out I use Acrobat a lot and I never would have bought it.

    My thought was I will probably get some kind of promotional offer at renewal and if I don’t and the cost is too much I will cancel. But starting with nothing, it let me explore software I wouldn’t have so I like it because I couldn’t afford PS but I can afford the monthly payments and I get everything.

    I still haven’t learned PS and Illustrator much and I’ve learned that I wish the ad mentioned the web hosting wasn’t just for Muse or I read more or something and used something else to start a site. I don’t really know what if anything is changing in the PS updates. I know every time I want to edit my website and muse has updated, the site breaks.

    The PS-LR package for existing users seems ok if the price really is fixed but it’s one of those too good to be true things. Either the price goes up or something goes down. Seems like one of the comments was probably right and you end up paying a lifetime $10 a month for no upgrades at some point or you pay more. $10/month for life the math doesn’t work. It seems like a good try before you buy kind of thing. Do you really want to upgrade? Are you using the new features at all? You’ll find out… You still own the old version too right?

    The PS I own is probably too old to run and I’m guessing they sold Windows and Mac versions back then. GIMP does more.

    I know my comments are a bit beyond the scope of the post but I see different people with different needs. I bought (using my husband’s money of course) the DVD version of LR5 for my mother in-law. I am going to disable updates on it. She is at one end of the spectrum. She will have a product that does what she needs and doesn’t want more features and doesn’t want to have to learn UI changes. I’m at the other side where I want a few things and they cost way more than the full subscription. In my mind, I’m getting my money’s worth right now and exploring new things. That’s with the whole suite though starting with nothing. I’m feeling out the update cycle and guessing that this will end up as a way for me to put off buying what I actually use until I have the money. It is also telling me what to buy, if I go that route. Seems like the latest and greatest isn’t always best and if the cost of buying the software outright is less than the subscription costs until the next update I want, buying makes more sense. The PS-LR deal is like that on a smaller scale I guess.

    I haven’t looked recently but I’m hoping you can still buy the software outright. I’m guessing that will go away someday and all software will be subscription. That is my fear. When I’m no longer interested in updates, I just want to pay once and not need an internet connection (for my subscription software) once a month.

    In the end though, it’s probably going to cost too much no matter what. THAT is what I expect when I hear “Adobe.”

  • Steve Dimock September 30, 2013   Reply →

    A little competition would be a good thing. There is no argument there. However, the idea that we are going to be able to continue to buy a program outright is going to be a thing of the past and we need to accept that.

    Having some competition could help the market by way of protecting the consumer from the pricing abuse that is being discussed. The “special” that is only for current owners…that is very specific as well. I purchased Creative Suits 5.5 for my wife and I. However, since we are a business I did the “right” thing and bought the business edition. When I looked into the CC edition of Adobe I found that the special offering that you are describing is only for individual editions. The business edition will get me special pricing on a business license only. It works out to a whole lot more $$. It doesn’t matter that it is just my wife and I they want the bucks. And, since they are the only game in town worth considering, they will get it from most of us.

    I will hold out with my current version as long as I can. When I find that it will no longer meet my needs or those of my wife, Adobe will see me signing up.

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to Leave a Reply!

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