Simplicity

df_simplicityThe ongoing battle in all areas of the tech sector has focused on the conundrum of simplicity versus complexity. The central question being, whether or not a professional application needs to be complex by its very nature. We’ve seen this in the Final Cut Pro X arguments and we will see it again with the new Mac Pro. Clearly everything Apple has been doing for many years, is to enhance the user experience by hiding some of the complexity under the hood.

This recently has come home to me in several ways. First, when Apple launched Final Cut Pro X a little over two years ago, some of my acquaintances on the Pro Apps team made this comment in regard to the streamlining of user settings compared with FCP 7. They pointed out that they would no longer need to field those tech support calls from confused users. Although I’ve always found this versatility useful in FCP 7, I do recognize that what they were saying was quite true, as the myriad of user format options was overwhelming for nearly all beginning and casual users. By streamlining this, FCP X allows users to quickly dive in and start editing – with the added benefit of lower support costs for Apple.

I recently had my 2009 Mac Pro repaired at a local Apple Store. This took a longer-than-normal amount of time and towards the end, I was calling the Geniuses every other day to find out what the hold-up was. In those conversations, the tech on more than one occasion noted how complex the Mac Pro towers are and how long it takes to run the proper diagnostics in order to truly isolate and repair a hard-to-define issue. In the end, the repair was well done and they were more than fair. In fact, the final bill was so low that I’ve come to realize the Genius Bar service simply can’t be a profit center for Apple. It is, in fact, part of Apple’s holistic approach to the customer experience. From a corporate point-of-view, this means that pressure has to be on quick repair and lower operating costs. Under this concept, wholesale board swaps – even when it amounts to using a bazooka to kill an ant – are far cheaper than component-level electronics repair. With that philosophy, the design inherent in an iMac or new Mac Pro, is bound to yield rewards for Apple in the cost of operating its Genius Bar repair service.

Another variation of this is software. As part of the repair, certain components were replaced that tie into how software, like plug-ins, is serialized to a particular machine. In essence, my machine was now internally viewed by some of the licensing as a different computer. To clean up some of these issues – and to do an upgrade to Mavericks – I opted for a completely clean installation of the OS, coupled with re-installation of all applications and re-authorization of all necessary software and plug-ins. No migration. It’s the sort of thing that can do wonders for your machine’s performance, but it’s also something everyone avoids. This took two-and-a-half days. As I went through this process, the easiest part by far, was re-installation of any Apple application. Not only was this simple, thanks to the App Store, but some of the older apps that were installed from discs, were then subsequently upgraded to App Store versions. The second easiest was Adobe using Creative Cloud. Again, log-in and download the applications you want to use. Among the plug-ins, FxFactory (and their associated partners) was easy, because they, too, have adopted an App Store-style model.

If you look out at the greater world of computing, the macho-tech experience of dealing with towers, peripherals, add-ons and more is waning for all but the most complex set-ups. Naturally, if you are going from a large investment in these add-ons to a new Mac Pro with Thunderbolt, you are going to need to buy some adapters, docks, etc. to see you through the interim transition. But look around you. The reliance on such peripherals is the exception and not the rule. Most users are on laptops. If they have a tower, it’s probably not much more that the stock set-up. Mac users have migrated to all-in-one iMacs. Tablets are everywhere. I almost never take my laptop on the road anymore, unless I need it for actual production. My iPad is more than adequate. All of this means that for the vast majority of users – including pros with demanding requirements – the hardware is fading into the background, because simpler solutions are powerful enough to get the job done.

My dad used to repair TVs. He worked through an era when component-level troubleshooting gave way to circuit board/module swaps. While the pieces might have been more expensive, the cost in labor was less for complex problems. Fast forward to today and there probably isn’t a single flat panel that we buy, which has much if any ability to be repaired. Computers are following that same path and so is software.

This will scare many. I used to write simple autoexec.bat files in the DOS days. These let me create a menu page with a table of contents for the applications I used. Typing in the number of the application from that list would launch the software and when done, would exit back to this menu page. I certainly have no need, nor interest in doing that with any modern OS. It was a skill set based on the needs of a cruder technology, but is now as obsolete as setting up a 2” Quad VTR. Tinkering with your computer or software falls into the same realm as shade-tree auto repair. You can do it on a ’57 Chevy, but you certainly can’t do it on any modern automobile. To some this may have seemed like fun. To me, I’d rather get on about with the business of using the software/hardware to achieve results.

©2013 Oliver Peters

 

More thoughts about Adobe’s Creative Cloud

df_adobecloud_1Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that in June Adobe switched its access to software from a licensed ownership to a subscription model. After a year of offering both options – perpetual licenses and subscription – Adobe has decided to go all-in on subscriptions for the latest version of its creative tools, while continuing to offer perpetual licenses only for Adobe CS6 products. Adobe has branded these offerings under two divisions – the Creative Cloud (content creation software) and the Marketing Cloud (back-end web, marketing and analysis software). This move changes your interaction with Adobe’s software from one of purchasing a product to one of purchasing a service that includes software tools as part of the package.

Predictably, many creative professionals have been in an uproar, because continued access to your Adobe software-based project files means that you need to maintain a valid subscription for that software to function. There are many pros and cons in this argument and some users will find it a really good deal, while others could end up paying more per year, depending on their previous upgrade cycles. Let me try to clarify some of the issues. First, the term “cloud” tends to be misunderstood. In the case of Adobe’s Creative Cloud, the software you choose to use is downloaded and locally installed on your computer. Any Creative Cloud application version carries the suffix CC instead of CS (as in CS6). There are additional cloud-based services hosted by Adobe’s servers that are available to subscribers, who are free to use or not use these as they see fit.

Just the facts, ma’am.

You do not have to maintain a constant internet connection to use the installed software, but it does ping Adobe’s authorization servers monthly to check your account status. Lack of a successful account check kicks the software into a trial mode for a period of time before the software is completely de-authorized and cannot be opened. In the case of people paying by the month, there’s a 30-day grace period. For those who have paid for a year in advance, it’s 180 days. Cloud subscriptions can be purchased for single applications or as individual, Team or Enterprise accounts. Individual users can install and simultaneously run any Adobe software on up to two machines (Mac and/or PC), while Team accounts are valid for only one machine per authorized user. Individual subscribers must download software separately to each machine; but, there is an option for Team and Enterprise users to install localized, server-based tools for simplified installation across multiple workstations.

For most people, the big plus to the Adobe Creative Cloud is access to the entire repertoire of Adobe content creation tools for web, print, photography and video. For the cost of the single subscription, you have access to use any of the applications formerly known as the Master Collection, as well as Lightroom. If you bought the Creative Suite 6 Master Collection today, that would run you $2,599 (plus Lightroom). Version upgrades have been in the $600 range and Adobe had been on an annual cycle of updates. Now with Creative Cloud, the equivalent software “bundle” costs $49.99/month without the initial outlay up front to own it. Of course, that’s the rub for many users, because when you quit paying, you can no longer open, edit or export legacy projects. The truth of the matter is that your software doesn’t just go “poof” and vanish from your hard drive. If you needed to re-activate a subscription six months later, then it would simply be a matter of renewing your account for as little as a few months to get you through your project revisions.

Advantages of the Cloud

There are several selling points to the Creative Cloud that have even skeptics coming on board. Up-to-date software is a big one. When you first install Creative Cloud, a new resident desktop management tool is installed, which replaces the former Adobe Application Manager. The Creative Cloud desktop application manages which software is installed and up-to-date, including both perpetual CS6 and subscribed CC versions. Adobe’s intent is to offer faster version updates, feature additions and bug fixes through the cloud delivery model.

If you are on a Mac, then pending Creative Cloud updates are also flagged through the OS X Notification Center. You control when to install an update. To date, Adobe has already delivered several updates with bug fixes and new features. The desktop application seems to work reasonably well, but I have experienced some download issues. My recommendation is to use it for updates or additional downloads only after a computer restart for best results.

By using this software-as-a-service model, Adobe is no longer bound by the arcane policies surrounding the timing of feature improvements, which are a by-product of the Sarbanes Oxley regulations. Instead, Adobe is free to update features when they are viable, rather than hold off to wait for quarterly revenue cycles.

Customers focused on one line of business, like only video or only photography, have a real advantage in this new scheme. For no additional cost, Adobe has now given you access to the software necessary to add new revenue streams. Want to add website design services? The Creative Cloud desktop application makes this easy. If you started with a handful of video apps and now want to download and add a few print or web applications, then simply click the additional software to install them.

Value added services

Aside from access to Adobe’s software, the Creative Cloud is an effort by Adobe to build a community and become a one-stop creative resource for its users. Not all of the options have been fully implemented yet.  Using the Creative Cloud desktop application you will be able to upload and share project files, sync application settings, install additional fonts and join the Behance design community. The latter is a portfolio site geared towards photographers and graphic designers. It supports video samples, but is not as well-known to video editors as YouTube or Vimeo. Adobe will also host up to five websites per account.

Adobe offers each user up to 20GB of online storage backed by Amazon. Unfortunately access to this storage hasn’t been integrated into the desktop tool and requires access through a web browser. You can store files there and allow others to download them, but video files do not play from within a browser. They must be downloaded and viewed locally. All-in-all, these services are a nice add-on. If your main focus is video, though, these are not yet an appropriate replacement for Apple’s old iDisk, Vimeo, DropBox or even a service like Sorenson360. Adobe is aware of this and has indicated that improving the Creative Cloud’s video-related services as a priority going forward.

Adobe has sought to respond to the flak surrounding software de-authorization when you end a subscription. Although a number of potential solutions have been posed – such as read-only access to past project files – there have not been any definitive announcements yet. Photoshop CC and After Effects CC do offer some backwards compatibility, but Premiere Pro CC is only forward-compatible. That means, you can migrate a project from Premiere Pro CS6 to Premiere Pro CC, but not in the reverse direction. Actual users of the Creative Cloud seem less concerned, but if this is an issue in your mind, then make sure to export your project in forms that ensure some compatibility, including XMLs, EDLs and superless, textless master files.

Conclusion

Whether or not the Adobe Creative Cloud is a good deal for you depends on many variables. Here are two anecdotal examples. A local college uses plenty of Adobe software across several departments, including graphic design, photography, digital media and film technology. That’s likely to be several hundred computers across several campuses. Four more licenses of the Creative Cloud just within the film program adds approximately $1400 annually to that department’s budget. Often upgrades of hardware and software are done via grants and don’t happen on a regular and predictable annual basis. Moving an entire school to a Cloud plan, means a big change in how such software is purchased, because it changes from being an asset to a monthly expense.

In example two, look at a company that forms around a single project. This is common of limited corporations formed to produce a single film and then close their doors when it’s done. Often they need software to edit and do effects, but also to cover they own print and web marketing needs. In this example, the Creative Cloud is perfect, because all of Adobe’s relevant software is available to them for a monthly charge. Simply put a small Team account in place for the year that the company exists and the net cost is much less than compared with the perpetual license model. For this type of client, there’s no ongoing value to the software as a tangible asset once the corporation is dissolved.

The Adobe Creative Cloud will come across as a good deal for many. It has afforded a lot of individual users the ability to “come clean” with legal access to all of Adobe’s content creation software on what, for many, amounts to one billable hour per month. Larger users, like production companies, broadcasters, ad agencies and corporate users seem very excited about being able to put any Adobe application on any computer in their operation (depending on their subscription plan). The extra Cloud services like Behance and 20GB of online storage are icing on the cake that can save money elsewhere by replacing other paid services. I suspect once the ruckus over the subscription model settles down, for better or worse, many other software companies will follow Adobe’s trek down this pioneering trail.

Originally written for Digital Video magazine

©2013 Oliver Peters

Thinking about the Tube

df_mp_1Desktop computers had been on a trajectory of faster performance based on Moore’s Law until they hit the wall just under the 4GHz mark. Then came a variety of ingenious technological workarounds, including hyper-threading, multiple processors (CPUs), multiple cores within a single processor and finally, offloading processing to one or more graphics display cards (GPUs). All of these solutions have benefitted content creation professionals running edit and graphics software. With all of that effort, no one seems to have taken the effort to re-imagine how the hardware should work, nor whether the hardware is really built for what software developers are doing. For example, few applications really make effective use of multiple CPUs in a computer.

Add to this the financial aspect, which points to the growth in laptops and tablets to the detriment of traditional desktop computer sales. Is there even a need for a desktop machine that caters to professional users? Into this uncertainty comes Apple with the new Mac Pro, which I’ve euphemistically called “the Tube” in my title. df_mp_6Apple is the king of re-imagining. After months and years of wondering whether Apple still cares about professional computer users, they blew away the audience at their annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) with an innovative new design for the next generation of Mac Pro desktop workstation. Like anything Apple does, a lot of legacy technology was dropped, which has drawn both praise and criticism. Those of us in the camp that predicted few or no slots and more use of Thunderbolt had largely guessed right. But the rest of this machine’s design is literally thinking “outside of the box”.df_mp_2

Right or wrong, the Mac Pro that Apple plans to ship represents design and engineering innovation that IBM, Lenovo, Sony, Dell, HP and others are clearly incapable of delivering. All of their products tend to follow the standard PC “box” formula, with the notable exception of HP’s Z1 – itself a copy of Apple’s iMac. Naturally the round design raises concerns about rack installation and so on, but very few desktop systems used by video pros have that need anymore. If you think round is odd, then take a look at the design of supercomputers like those from Cray.

df_mp_11The new Mac Pro is clearly intended to put the maximum horsepower literally on (or under) the desk of the working video editor, graphic designer, animator, scientist and others. As noted above, many applications don’t make efficient use of multiple CPU sockets, so the Mac Pro seems to be limited to a single CPU, but based on new Intel chips that have a maximum of 12 internal cores. Apple is banking on increased reliance on the GPU to deliver visual performance. Out of the gate, there are two built-in GPUs. Clearly this will benefit core Apple creative software, like Final Cut Pro X, but also others, including DaVinci Resolve and many of the Adobe products.

df_mp_3Look more closely at the video subsystem of this machine. Apple is designing a machine geared for 4K production and post. With multiple GPUs and built-in HDMI output using the 4K-ready spec, the new Mac Pro should be able to cut 4K content “like butter” and handle all monitoring tasks (computer monitoring plus video) without the need for external devices from AJA, Blackmagic Design and others, unless the user has a definite need for these. My guess is that’s why you’ll have the extra GPU horsepower, more so than accelerating FCP X effects.df_mp_5

Connectivity is now based on USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt 2.0. The latter is a 20Gb/s bi-directional data pipe and this Mac Pro has three such busses split over six ports. While there’s been a lot of discussion on the web about whether this is adequate compared with the current PCIe standard, I think it’s too early to say one way or the other. Firewire – once Apple’s darling – has been relegated to history’s dust bin, right next to SCSI, floppy diskettes and other older technologies. In any case, if you need more connections, then Thunderbolt adapters and/or an expansion chassis will be the way to go. Just like Apple’s philosophy with FCP X, this new Mac Pro is more of a “platform” than an all-inclusive solution for people who have every possible type of need. It’s the “hub” that will handle the majority of pro requirements and if you need more, you’ll have to augment the “hub” with third-party products and devices.

df_mp_9That brings us to cost. The internal pieces of this machine aren’t cheap. It’s anyone’s guess what the price will be. There is at least the potential for it to be relatively expensive. On the other hand, Apple has a lot of leverage with its supply chain and may have incentive to offer the machine at an artificially low price. They will be flying the “Made in the USA” banner with this Mac Pro and they also have added more in-house R&D centers across the US. So, in coming years, more of the internal guts could become Apple-manufactured, which could reduce production cost. My guess is that the retail price will be somewhere in line with current Mac Pro machines. After all, a fully-decked-out, current 12-core Mac Pro aluminum tower isn’t cheap either.df_mp_7

In any case, this will be a very low-volume machine. It’s the sports car that defines the brand. Apple may or may not decide to make it profitable. Another variable we don’t know is whether the technology used, such as dual internal GPUs, will be integrated into new iMac models. In that case, a small number of users will actually buy the Mac Pro. Many will drool over it and then end up buying a decked out iMac – no slouch, by any means. df_mp_4Thus, the “halo” effect. You’re attracted by the shiny, black Mac Pro, but purchase the iMac, which generates more bread-and-butter income for Apple. Unlike any other technology company, Apple assesses its bottom line using a holistic approach. If a product contributes to the total revenue of the company, then it’s deemed important to have and to develop, even if that product by itself is not profitable (though, that’s usually not the case with an Apple product). No one outside of Apple’s executive level really knows for sure.

As a video editor, I love what Apple is doing with this machine. Does it work for my needs and will I buy one? I don’t know yet. Depends on price and actual performance, but it’s certainly on the wish list at this point.

©2013 Oliver Peters

Partly Cloudy

df_adobecloud_1This past Monday at their MAX event, Adobe clarified its plans going forward. Gone is the “next” label, as well as any mention of “Creative Suite 7”. Henceforth, nearly all of Adobe’s content creation products will be sold only via Adobe’s cloud subscription model, under the Creative Cloud (or CC) banner. Premiere Pro, Photoshop, et al, become Premiere Pro CC, Photoshop CC and so on. With a few exceptions, like Lightroom, perpetual licenses (where you “own” the software) are gone. Needless to say, this announcement brought a quick and largely negative user reaction. Clearly Adobe was having its own “FCP X moment”. Hitler wasn’t happy (warning: offensive language). Of course, he wasn’t happy with Final Cut Pro X, either. Before I continue, here are links to Adobe’s FAQ and official responses/clarifications from Adobe’s communityDennis Radeke and Al Mooney in various forums, so you have the straight scoop.

Although we tend to think of software ownership like any other asset, digital media plays by a different set of rules. What you own is a license to use the software freely according to the terms of the EULA. It’s not an asset that you can use in an unrestricted manner, such as unlimited installation or resale on the open market. In fact, in the “bad ole” Avid days of turnkey systems, you actually had to pay a transfer fee when selling a system to another user. This was often waived, but did nothing to endear users to Avid. Even today, you typically cannot legally sell used (already registered) software to others in the same way that you sell used computers – although people do it every day without issue. The bottom line is that you may have application files on your drives or installation DVD-ROMs, but you don’t own these in the same way you own a physical, printed book – or a printer.

Clearly the concept of “ownership” is limited in the digital world, but at least what we understand as “owning” is completely different than renting. Essentially that’s the shift Adobe has made. If you buy a monthly or annual Creative Cloud subscription (or a single-application subscription), then you are renting the software covered under that agreement. The term “cloud” is a bit misleading, since the application software is downloaded and resides on your local computer, just like any other software. The software is authorized over the internet and it pings Adobe’s license servers monthly to see if you’ve paid your bill. This is more or less like the cable company, which installs a set-top receiver/DVR box in your house, though you don’t own that hardware. With Adobe, this shifts your use of the software from a capital outlay to a monthly expense, like other services or utilities costs. If you quit your CC subscription, your software is de-authorized and you lose the ability to use it or even open existing project files. The software can stay on your computer and you can renew the subscription at some point down the road if you like.

This model has several benefits for Adobe, such as a constant and somewhat predictable revenue stream. Since the software is now a service, it gets them out of some of the Sarbanes-Oxley legal issues revolving around the release of features and timing of new products coming to market. In essence, Adobe never has a “new product”, but rather posts updates to the Cloud, that users can download when they want or need to. Their claim is that new features can be introduced more quickly, because the aren’t bound by the “features versus bug fixes” conundrum that’s become an unintended consequence of SOX. I’m skeptical of these claims, since most downloaded software over the past few years has enjoyed reasonably rapid development between big point releases. You can only develop new software so quickly and having a different delivery vehicle may or may not improve that.

The ultimate question, though, is whether or not this is good for the user of Adobe products. Clearly the Creative Cloud change is one that benefits enterprise customers – the largest post houses, corporate media departments, digital media-centric ad agencies, broadcasters and TV/cable networks. These are customers who are more comfortable with a monthly fee system. They may already pay support contracts and want frequent updates. Their media is often perishable, so opening legacy projects might not be a concern. Adobe has also sweetened the pot with additional CC services and storage.

If you are an individual Adobe power user – meaning you’ve used many if not all of the applications in a Master Collection or Production Premium bundle – and you update annually anyway – then the Creative Cloud subscription will likely save you money. However, if you only use one or two applications and update only every few years, then a subscription just increased your costs. I see plenty of users who don’t upgrade. For example, at freelance sites, I routinely run into a range of CS4 through CS5.5 products. These users are quite happy with After Effects or Photoshop in those versions.

Historically Adobe has not given all apps within a bundle equal treatment. For instance, in one version After Effects may get a few whizz-bang features, while Premiere Pro only gets a few tweaks. The next time, it’s the other way around. So the subscription model is only of benefit if Adobe updates and you actually need those updates. Often software updates require newer hardware to take advantage of the next features or performance. Users may or may not be ready to bump up their hardware or their OS versions. Adobe will have older versions available on the Cloud, so you don’t necessarily have to run the newest software. If that’s the case, though, then what is the benefit to you of the subscription if you are not going to use the latest software?

There currently are four basic software use/own/rent models:

Perpetual License – This is paid “ownership” as discussed above. Avid, Grass Valley and others follow this model. Sometimes it comes with an optional support contract.

Software as a Service – This is the concept of the Adobe Creative Cloud. They aren’t the only one. Look to Intuit, Microsoft, Google and others for similar models and it will increasingly be the way a lot of software companies go.

Mac App Store – This is Apple’s approach and specifically applies to Final Cut Pro X, Aperture and other Apple and third-party software. You buy the software one time. The most current version is the one always available at the MAS and you can download and update for free when you are ready. As long as the product is sold as the same product, the developer cannot charge for an update. If the product changes or is rebranded, it can be sold (at full price) as a new application. You can install the software (for a single application charge) on as many Mac computers as you own or control for personal use. Professional use is intended as one installation only for a single machine used by multiple people.

Free with “strings” – This would apply to DaVinci Resolve and Lightworks. The basic model is free, but the developer offers certain value-added options or “add-ons”. Examples include the Lightworks Pro package (subscription to cover licensed codec support) and Blackmagic Design’s restriction of Resolve to working with its own hardware i/o products.

I’m a fan of most of Adobe’s products. Although I’m a relatively knowledgeable user of these tools, I am by no means a “power user” of Photoshop or After Effects, though I’m comfortable working there. As a magazine and blog reviewer of software, I have evaluation copies of the various Creative Suite Master Collections from over the years and for the most part, I have never touched many of the print, web or Flash applications.

I am also well aware of how capricious some software decisions can be. For example, for a few years, Adobe was developing Soundbooth – a streamlined, task-oriented audio application. It included a proprietary music tailoring function (like Smart Sound’s Sonicfire), using Adobe’s own scores. A few were included and then you could buy more scores to augment your library. I bought a number of these. Then Adobe decided Soundbooth wasn’t working for them and not enough folks were purchasing the additional scores. So they killed the product and dumped the scores out as a free download (including those I had paid for a year earlier).

Unfortunately Audition (which replaced Soundbooth in the bundles), no longer has any ability to use these scores. In fact, nothing except Soundbooth can. A few months ago I had to re-install Soundbooth from CS4 or CS5 on my MacBook Pro just to be able to build some tracks using these scores. The point is that there’s no reason that Adobe wouldn’t decide to dump some app in the future, like Prelude or SpeedGrade, for instance. After all, they can now track specific application downloads and can tell what people are using. No more bundles to shield the unproductive. Of course, Adobe has stated that if that were the case in the future, they would simply make the EOL’ed product available for download and use without further authorization to existing customers.

I don’t want any of this to sound like Adobe is doing something evil. They aren’t and I feel that companies have to do what makes the most sense for their survival and continued product development. I think the negative reaction could have been blunted if Adobe had included an “opt-out/buy-out” mechanism. For example, if you’ve subscribed for a year and don’t want to continue, you could buy a perpetual license to the software you have on a prorated basis. That would be a win-win in my book.

I personally prefer the perpetual license model or the Mac App Store. I think there’s a real issue for smaller production companies and individuals with the “monthly cost creep” that this all amounts to. It’s not just Adobe. Factor in your cable bill, your phone data plan and other services like Vimeo, Dropbox and more. These all start to add up to real dollars that run the risk of “nickel and diming” a small business to death. In fact, NPR ran a story this week on that exact subject. My druthers are the Apple Mac App Store model for know. It is the most cost-effective.

I also don’t believe that all of Adobe’s applications are “best in class”. Photoshop and After Effects probably are, but others – not so much. I don’t understand the need for Prelude, other than to fill in gaps that Premiere Pro is missing – like transcoding. Photoshop is pretty bloated for the casual user and long ago needed something between it and Photoshop Elements. My point is that for a user like me, the full Creative Cloud model doesn’t look too appealing. There are viable alternatives to all of Adobe’s solutions, but if you need to maintain compatibility with client-supplied Adobe files, you will likely find it hard to get by without some Adobe product.

My suggestion for most users in similar shoes would be to buy one of the CS6 bundles now as a perpetual license.  This gives you a fallback position. Then if you want to move forward with the Cloud, run the numbers. If you are a power user of Photoshop, Premiere Pro or After Effects and want to have the latest version of that one application, simply buy a single-application subscription. If you use three or more applications on a regular basis and want those all to be current, then the full Creative Cloud subscription makes sense. You still have the CS6 versions if needed, as long as you’ve maintained backwards project compatibility.

The last thought I’ll leave you with is this. Don’t trust any company that says they have a vision for your digital future. Adobe’s applications are built around web services. For now, these are locally-installed applications; but, they could also function as the front end user interface for software that actually does reside at a remote location (“the cloud” for real). That’s the concept behind Adobe Anywhere. In short, could the “end game” be for a strictly cloud-based, software as a service operation? Adobe Creative Cloud running like Google Docs? Maybe – maybe not. We’ll see.

EDIT: Since I posted this entry, I’ve received some feedback from my friends at Adobe. A key feature of the Creative Cloud is not only access to Adobe’s portfolio of content creation applications, but also a slew of other resources, including community support, cloud storage and online portfolios. If you are an enterprise user with a Creative Cloud Team subscription, there’s even more value, such as a larger amount of storage. While some of these features might not be needed if you already are using Dropbox, Vimeo or a WordPress blog as your website, the Cloud subscription does put these types of resources under one roof.

An enterprise customer, such as a broadcast station group, may well find the Creative Cloud plans quite attractive. They can negotiate deals that place Adobe apps on any computer within their creative departments across all divisions of the company. This type of customer really isn’t too worried about opening legacy projects from a few years ago. By shifting software purchasing to the monthly expense part of the ledger, it removes it from the annual capital expenditure battles and guarantees more frequent updates across departments. So, while there is a lot of back and forth comment across the internet about Adobe’s move, I should note that quite a few customers are and will be very happy climbing into the Cloud.

©2013 Oliver Peters