Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Adobe Creative Cloud: An Alternative to Buying Creative Suite Software

Years ago, when I first started to get into graphic and web design, software titles such as Photoshop and Dreamweaver were fast becoming the dominant tools of the trade. Now, almost a decade later, proficiency in using Adobe Creative Suite products has become de rigueur for anyone hoping to make it in the industry.

One of the major barriers, though, has always been the high price of these programs. Currently, the price for the latest full version of Photoshop will set you back $699 (Note: All figures in this post are presented in USD). If you need Dreamweaver as well, you'll spend over $1K if you aren't eligible for any discounts. Students (as well as teachers and other educational faculty and staff) can save some serious money after proving their status in an educational institution.
Adobe Creative Cloud
Creative Cloud offers users access to the full line of Adobe Creative Suite software titles for a monthly fee.

Although these discounts exist, many students still have trouble spending hundreds of dollars on software just for an opportunity to learn how to use it. And what about everyone else? A graphic designer needs this software as a carpenter needs power tools, but funding this major purchase all at once can be quite a challenge. This is especially true for organizations like our web design company that end up buying multiple licenses of the same software.

Adobe has now begun offering "Creative Cloud", a month-to-month subscription based service that allows unlimited access to the latest versions of all Creative Suite programs, as well as cloud-based synchronizing and storage capabilities. Prices start at $49.99 per month with a 1-year contract. Another option is the $74.99 per month plan, with no contract required.

A major selling point of Creative Cloud, aside from the much lower upfront costs, is that every CS program is available at any time. A subscribed user might download and install Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and InDesign right away. Later, if they need to use Illustrator or want to try out Premiere Pro, they can download and use them on-demand.

A subscription will usually run you about $600 per user, per year. Although buying the full versions of all the software you need might sound more appealing, you should consider the desirability of paying a small amount each month vs. one large sum up front. If purchase the Creative Suite 6 "Master Collection", which will currently set you back about $2599, it would take over four years before it becomes more cost-effective than paying $49.99 per month for the same functionality.

Even "Design Standard", the lowest priced CS6 edition, would take more than two years of use before you "save money" over using Creative Cloud - and that's only if you don't end up needing to buy additional products that aren't included in that edition. It is important to keep in mind the cost of upgrading as well. With Creative Cloud, you always have access to the latest versions. This should mean that upgrading to CS7 would not cost you any extra.

For more information: Adobe Creative Cloud buying guide

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