Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Adobe Creative lock-in. Is it high time we reboot our software practices?

It's May 6, the third day of Adobe MAX conference, Los Angeles quoted as "The Creativity Conference". Creative Enthusiasts from all around the globe had their eyes on the launch of CS7. But Adobe closed the door on the Creative Suite and introduced Creative Cloud. The acquisition of Behance in December 2012, for  which Adobe paid more than $150 million in cash and stock, should have been served as a hint that Adobe was aiming for a social and collaborative future in the cloud. Adobe even said it will no longer be developing its Creative Suite range of software, leaving its subscription and cloud-based Creative Cloud as the only way of accessing the latest version of Photoshop. Adobe has been trying to encourage users away from the traditional one-off payment licenses and on to a "monthly payment model", with features such as online storage and syncing between devices. This latest move ups the ante by making it the only option for future versions of the software. As of the first quarter the subscription of the new cloud service has already exceeded 500,000.[1]

Does this move makes sense?

This move is surely to curb piracy as almost 50% people use the pirated version of this software. But the real people who are going to lose are the hobbyists as it will undoubtedly be unsettling for many people who have always thought of software as a one-off purchase. The serious amateur photographer who buys a version of Photoshop and then use it for 5-6 years or the girl who uses only Photoshop. Now they’ll have to pony up and pay the $30-$50/month for the single app. Personally I don’t like the idea of software as a service. There’s something unsettling about it. I like buying a piece of software and knowing that I can install it and use it for years without paying the company another cent. It’s ‘mine’ even though I know it’s only a license.

But somehow it is our own fault as we never looked into the open-source alternatives at the first place itself before downloading the torrent file + crack. Ten years back when Photoshop was not that powerful, we - creatives, clung to it which eventually led to a creative lock-in, where we are dependent on this product to such an extent that open-source software such as GIMP also has a version of Photoshop look alike- GIMPshop. It is high time we seriously consider using open-source alternatives like Xara(for Corel) and Blender(for Maya, Cinema4D, 3DS max) which are equally powerful. Although it will have some learning curve but at least think about the long term benefits over the short term gains. Become a developer and even contribute to these open source projects. Only then we will be able to avoid such creative lock-ins in future.