Open Letter to Adobe about the Creative Cloud Subscription Model

Dear Adobe,

I absolutely love the creative and innovative products you make and I have been using them since 1998 (mostly Photoshop, Lightroom, PageMaker). While I understand the benefits of the Creative Cloud, the subscription-only model has some serious drawbacks for us users that make it almost impossible (at least for me) to upgrade.

With the new subscription-only model, I don’t have any access to my data anymore if for some reason I have to cancel my subscription (e.g. I can’t afford it anymore, I move to a country where the CC is not supported, terms change in a way that are unacceptable for me, etc.) or if it is terminated (say, misuse of my account data). Sure, the files are still on my computer, but without the software, they are worthless. While you constantly add features (which is great), old, non CC versions will not be able to open the newer file. And I am left with nothing.

Also, should you decide to discontinue a product (which has happened before), what happens to my files? If the program is only available via subscription and is discontinued, than I have no chance at all to access my own files. With a perpetual license at least I can keep the final version of the product and edit, print, view, convert etc. my documents. But with the cloud, I am out of luck, no matter how much I invested into updates and new features.

There may be cases where I need an old version of the software. File formats change and some are updated and some are discontinued. I may need to keep an old copy of some software around just to be able to open old files (for legal reasons). With an ever evolving creative cloud, what happens to my files if the format is discontinued?

We live in a digital age. Precious memories are stored in countless files and documents, created with love and your products. Knowing that I will not be able to open them in the future makes me very nervous. While the Creative Cloud adds great features, it removes important options. It removes choices. 

May I offer a suggestion?

Other software companies that use a subscription based pricing model (like Atlassian) use a hybrid approach. Buy the product with a perpetual license and get free upgrades (maintenance) for a certain amount of time. At the end of this period, I can instantly renew my subscription at a lower price and benefit from all the updates and cloud storage. Should I decide not to, I can still use the version of the software as it was on the last day of my subscription.

This approach would allow you to constantly improve the product and get you a constant cashflow from the hardcore user that need every last bit of innovation without leaving the rest of your user base behind.


I’d love to hear your opinion on my concerns. Thank you

Digitally yours


If you share my opinion, please see my post on Adobes Facebook Page

3 Gedanken zu „Open Letter to Adobe about the Creative Cloud Subscription Model

  1. You’re saying that you would accept a subscription plan for purchasing the software and its updates. Subscription as in „magazine subscription“, where if you stop subscribing, you keep everything you’ve purchased so far.

  2. These days I work in web design, don’t share my layered files as often and have to purchase my own software. If you also fit this description, the argument to upgrade every single time Adobe thinks of something new sort of breaks down (though writing tutorials means I personally still have to stay up to date). You’ll likely be able to work just fine for several years without forking out for an upgrade, just keep in mind that jumping up multiple versions is more expensive than only taking a single step.

  3. Complete agree!

    @Gilberto: No, that’s not true in this case. I keep the files, but can’t open them. Like glueing the magazine’s pages together.

    @Johnie: In your case I understand the need to be up to date. If there’s a split system, that’s no problem.

    I’m a student. I hardly have enough money to pay for everything I need. NEED, not want. I have CS 5 and it works. I’ve bought it and I’m proud of that.
    I’ll have to use it for at least the next 2 years. But having to subscribe to anything would – over these years – be more expensive. I’d just use the university’s computers then where the newest version is installed.
    Now they got money from me. With the subscribtion system, they wouldn’t have.

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