How Adobe’s Creative Cloud Membership Software Pricing Actually Works

How Adobe’s Creative Cloud Membership Software Pricing Actually Works

Adobe has launched “membership” software subscriptions under the Creative Cloud banner. Those deals can make Adobe’s often-costly software notably cheaper, but what seems like a simple monthly payment is actually a little more complicated. Here’s what you need to know.

Adobe’s design products essentially define the market, but you pay a high price for that huge range of features. The new Creative Cloud option lets you pay a monthly subscription fee rather than a huge upfront price tag for Creative Suite 6, but whether that makes sense will depend on how often you plan to upgrade the product and how many of the options on offer you use.

As we foreshadowed earlier in the year, Creative Cloud is a subscription-based offering which will launch in late May. There’s some notable changes in the Creative Suite interface (such as a switch from grey to black as the defining colour), but the biggest switch is in the pricing approach. We still don’t have pricing parity with the US, but the relative gap is smaller.

For a monthly price of $62.99 (in Australian dollars, and assuming a minimum 12-month subscription), you get access to all the products in Creative Suite 6 (CS6), including Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, Premiere Pro, After Effects and Flash Professional, and the new Adobe Muse and Adobe Edge Preview HTML5 design tools.

You also get integration with Adobe’s iOS apps (Photoshop Touch, Ideas, Collage, Debut and Proto), along with 20GB of storage, Creative Cloud Connection syncing software, access to Adobe’s group of 700 Typekit fonts, online magazine and tablet publishing systems, and access to additional products which will be including in the existing price. Future promised additions include Lightroom 4 and Digital Publishing Suite.

One big potential selling point is upgrades outside the regular Creative Suite development cycle. “We just cannot release software every two years,” Adobe’s APAC product marketing manager Michael Stoddart told Lifehacker. “Our customers tell us constantly we don’t want the hassle of updates, but we need updates. This is a different approach to that.”

Right now, 14 CS6 software products are included. If you unsubscribe, you can no longer use the software. You can also pay extra if you want more online storage, though Adobe hasn’t yet specified prices. The software will be sold via download, and you can select just those products you initially want and add others later (a good move given the large download sizes). Your Adobe ID is used to control your subscription purchases.

The obvious question is: how does that compare to buying the products outright? If you don’t want a 12-month contract, you can pay $94.99 month-to-month. The 12-month contract costs $62.99 a month, which totals up to $751.92 a year (the equivalent of just under eight month-to-month uses).

The full-blown CS6 Master Collection will cost $3949 for new users as a traditional install; the CS6 Design & Web Premium suite will be $2886, the Production Premium Suite will be $2886, and the Design Standard Release will be $1975. In practical terms, that means that if you use several of the packages, the subscription will definitely be cheaper. But if you are only going to run Photoshop as a new user, an outright buy will definitely be cheaper.

Upgrade customers using Creative Suite 3 or later get a cheaper deal: they can pay $37.99 a month (minimum 12 months), which totals up to $455.88. Adobe expects both the new model and traditional boxed sales to continue for some time. “Box and licence sales are not going to go away,” said Stoddart. “Hopefully there’ll be a lot of cost savings with the Creative Cloud option though.” Worth noting: signing up for Creative Cloud won’t kill your existing licences, so you could keep running 5.5 on your current box and add the subscription to a new machine.

While there are plenty of free design apps available both on the desktop and online, Adobe remains the market leader. Retaining that market leadership as HTML5 becomes more common remains its biggest challenge, and the shift in pricing model Creative Cloud represents could help.

Tempted by the subscription model? Tell us (and tell us why) in the comments.



      • A lot for upgrades too: Design Premium CS5.5 to CS 6 US$375/A$626

        The move to a subscription model is customer-unfriendly because you are at Adobe’s mercy on pricing in the future. If you rely on Adobe tools, you’ll never be able to say no to a drastic price increase. Physical products keep them honest (notwithstanding gouging Australian customers) because upgrades have to justify their price. In my experience, studios don’t upgrade every cycle, so with a subscription once you’re on the merry-go-round you won’t be able to get off.

        • The problem here is that Adobe is going to move to an “upgrade every time or fall off the upgrade-eligibility wagon”, so not upgrading every cycle isn’t really going to be an option.

          And yes, Adobe Australia is a major scam artist, although they have been a lot more sensible with Lightroom 4.

  • The “educational” licenses are for students learning the software, not for commercial use.

    An option is to find a CS3 license on eBay going cheap, then use that to get the upgrade discount. That’s what I did when I bought CS years ago. I even bought the US version, ordered via “Carrie my Shopping”. It was on sale at the time so I got a double discount 🙂

  • So Angus – did you ask Adobe to justify their 20% price increase for Australia over the US for a web hosted product?
    It’s not like they even offer us the same level of support that US customers get…

    • First, would be the cost of marketing the said product to a relatively small market… Among other things, plus they because they can.

      After all, it is a business not a charity.

      • What marketing? when is the last time Adobe marketed in Australia? i haven’t seen anything. Unless you’re referring to them having a website in Australia.

  • So, I don’t really get this – “If you unsubscribe, you can no longer use the software”. I mean, so, if you pay for the 12 month sub and you decided, after 12 months, that you don’t want to do it any more, does that mean you’ve paid out all that money for…nothing? Just usage? Scary.

  • On the Adobe site when you try to pre order the Adobe Creative Cloud membership it takes you to a page where you need to pick your country.

    Is there anything stopping me picking United States and paying the cheaper rates?

  • I for one am stoked! I couldn’t justify the master collection…now I can :O) If you do the maths, assuming you already have a CS3 product, you can get 5 and half years worth of creative cloud for the same price as buying CS6 master collection. And you get all the updates. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

  • It makes sense for people like me, who are on the Department of Education payroll (or if you’re a student). You can get the benefits of full Master Collection for just $24.99 per month.

  • With USD and AUD almost 1: 1, a 1 year subscription is $144 paid to Adobe Australia so they can market to me. I don’t like the idea but will make up for it by visiting the upcoming Adobe roadshow…. and eating and drinking my share 🙂

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