June 25, 2014
I’ve long been skeptical that Adobe’s Creative Cloud program would bring significant benefits for consumers (See this post for example: Adobe’s Empty Promise of Innovation). The recent release of the Adobe CC 2014 software has generated a lot of discussion about the new features available to users. This is especially true since CC subscribers tend to think they get the new features for “free.” In other words, there is no additional cost to the customer beyond the CC subscription cost.
I’ve downloaded the update, and I’m underwhelmed. There are some new features, but how many of them will I actually use? Few, if any. Maybe I’ll find a use for the path blur tool one day. I haven’t tried shake reduction yet, but I’m not expecting miracles here. The CC 2014 update doesn’t deliver a lot for me. What would I like to see? I’d like to see dramatically improved selection tools for tough situations. I’d like to see a clarity adjustment layer and a highlight/shadow adjustment layer. These tools would help my workflow when I leave Lightroom. Scott Kelby, ever the Adobe cheerleader, listed the new features of the software in an article here. You can see his list and see how many features have made a difference for you.
Nevertheless, we do need updates. Cameras and operating systems change rapidly and the software won’t continue to work without frequent updates. The question is about cost and choice. Without subscriptions, consumers made the choice whether the benefits of an update outweighed the costs. The subscription system makes that calculation moot. Moreover, without a viable non-subscription option, consumers become captives to a monopoly supplier.
Despite my disappointment in the new update, it doesn’t matter that much for my processing. Why? Because Photoshop has done almost everything I want since at least CS 3. Which brings us to the crucial question about this CC 2014 update. Yes, it has some new features, but how many of those features would you really pay for if you had to spend $200-$400 for the upgrade under the old system? I’m betting that most of us would not move to a new version for these tweaks to the software that were delivered with CC 2014. Nevertheless, customers are paying for the upgrade with subscriptions that start at $120 per year. Adobe has us right where it wants us.
By bundling new features together and calling it a new “release,” Adobe has attempted to create the illusion of value for its CC subscribers. Unfortunately, that’s all it is — an illusion.