An Open Letter to Adobe Systems

Dear Adobe,

I have been a very happy user of your products for more than twenty years. In fact, I’ve defended you repeatedly to co-workers who insisted on using competitors like Corel Draw, Microsoft Publisher and Aldus Freehand, until your elegant products became the dominant programs in all end-user creative categories.

I once wrote a happy-customer letter to you when I switched to Adobe InDesign after using QuarkXpress for many years. I made the switch after hours of research, and I actually convinced my new employer to buy InDesign. The transition was nearly seamless, with an almost nonexistent learning curve. I was very pleased that your products made my job easier.

I have never pirated your software, but over the years I’ve gained intermediate-to-advanced proficiency in Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, and Acrobat. A lot of this experience was gained on the job throughout my graphic design career, but since the early 90s I have been able to purchase legitimate copies of all four products here and there. I could not afford to upgrade each time you released a new version, but have happily paid the upgrade fee every few years (mostly coinciding with the purchase of a new Mac).

The last time I bought the software outright was a couple of years ago with CS5.5. I admit I waited until I was able to qualify for the student pricing, and scored the whole package for just a few hundred dollars. I am studying to be a teacher, which means I will qualify for educational pricing for the forseeable future.

I appreciate that you provide significant discounts for educators, however I’m writing today to let you know that I’m very unhappy with your decision to force your entire user base into the Creative Cloud suite of products. Here’s why:

I am not a daily user of any of your Creative Suite products. My use of them happens in fits and spurts, mostly centered around holidays and summers. Therefore it bothers me that I must sign a year-long contract before qualifying for the educator’s discount ($74.99 is the month-to-month price vs. $19.99/month [special, limited-time price!] if I sign an annual contract). I’m annoyed about the months I’ll pay for but won’t use the software much, if at all, but the big issue for me is the fact that unless I keep paying, month after month, forever, I’ll lose access to my own work once the contract is up.

There is no baseline or comparable model with which I can compare. I am able to open files of many different types and versions now (using CS version 5.5)–even files I created years and years ago. I am filled with a sense of panic and dread (leading to anger) at the thought of not being able to open my own work after less than a year if I don’t renew.

Let’s be real: your new cloud-only, subscription-only model benefits you most, not your customers. And yes, there are some benefits to always using the latest and greatest copy of the software, but that’s never appealed to me because I was never one who needed access to all the new features as soon as you created them. Your new business model is best for high-volume, daily users at large companies, not sole-proprietor freelancers, small business owners, authors and educators like myself (who are feeling screwed by you right now).

I am sorry to say I will be looking for alternatives to Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Acrobat in the coming months. Until then, I’ll use my legally-obtained copy of CS 5.5 until it stops running.

Thanks for the memories, but I’ll be looking forward to finding a new creative partner to help me with my work from now on. A company who is happy to take my money without limiting access to my own stuff in the future. A company who cares about building long-term relationships with its customers. All of them.

Sincerely, Brooks Jones

10 responses to “An Open Letter to Adobe Systems

  1. Great post! Too bad Adobe made this kind of mistake. Retaining their freelancer professionals will be a tough.

  2. While I was only using Abode on the occasional interface, I was surprised when I was told I would need to subscribe to complete the document I had opened. End result: The site requesting the document didn’t get it, and Abode didn’t get my credit card. Lesson learned: It just isn’t important enough to spend another $100 a year for something I may use twice.

  3. Corel Draw has always been better than Illustrator at manipulating fonts. Painter, Manga Studio, and Sketchup are all reasonable substitutes for Photoshop. Old versions of Adobe products are still available on ebay…
    I suspect Adobe will lose a huge part of their customer base by setting their rental prices so ridiculously high. They lost me; there’s not even a little chance I will rent software when I can buy it outright, cheaper.

  4. Well said, Brooks! I am currently learning Magna Studio 5 to replace my Photoshop. It seems to be a little better for illustration – better brushes, for instance. And it’s less than $99!! I’m still on the lookout for software that will replace Illustrator and InDesign. After being a loyal Adobe user for 30 years, I am so frustrated by them now!

  5. I totally agree with all of the above and will be using alternative products in the future. I think it is rude to slog consumers with ongoing fees… Oh I know, lets charge our readers each time they open their favorite picture book.

  6. Roxie shared, Will Terry shared Roxie’s share. I’m sharing Will Terry’s share. I agree whole heartedly. Like it’s not no hard enough to work as a freelance author/illustrator. I had the Cloud and couldn’t keep it up. It hurts not only from the level of losing your work, but confidence (how lame am I, I can’t maintain a month-to-month subscription). Thank you for the post, Brooke.

  7. You need to check out open Source Software!

  8. Thank you for posting this Brooke. I totally agree. I need to update my Adobe suite, but to be locked in to a monthly subscription fee is awful and if you don’t pay on time, they lock up your account. You can’t get to your files.

  9. What an excellent post! Thanks, Brooks – I hope this is read all over (I am sharing/reposting.) I use Photoshop lightly, and rarely. (Have some other simple photo editing apps for my not-very-complex needs.) Use PS mainly in order to print on my large format Epson 3800, once every six weeks or so, here in my studio (may find a work-around). What a hassle – to subscribe to it continually just to use images already in PS! But it’s going to cost our home office, with my photographer husband, lots. And we can’t share (two locations). Do. Not. Like. Subscription model.

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