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Implications of subscription only software

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Clint Wardlow
Implications of subscription only software
on May 31, 2013 at 3:33:07 pm

from Walter Biscard's blog: "within 5 years we’ll see all the software on subscription only basis."

I am curious what the implications are if it comes true. Is it really possible? For large software packages I can see this as a reality. For small consumer software, maybe not so much.

Would this force a hard line between what is considered consumer software and what is business software? Would it force the casual user and hobbyist away from more sophisticated applications, where the only way to justify using deeper programs is if you can make money off of it?

To my mind, this is a huge change. And its effect on creatives of all stripes would be far reaching.


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Juan Salvo
Re: Implications of subscription only software
on May 31, 2013 at 4:07:47 pm

I wouldn't be surprised if in five years a plurality if not a majority of individuals no longer own a traditional desktop os device (laptop/desktop) but instead use a Tablet running a mobile os as their primary computing platform.

So for consumers they'll be buying lots of cheapie apps through an app store, essentially renting, without realizing they're renting.

For professionals, I think the subscription model makes a lot of sense. Particularly as it allows you to write-off the entire cost of subscription. Many professional applications already work in a upfront & subscription (support contract) model. And in some circumstances even allows you to just pay for the software when you use it. Better than risking a large investment in some highly specialized software that you may or may not be able to turn into a viable business.

Colorist | Online Editor | Post Super | VFX Artist | BD Author

http://JuanSalvo.com


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Clint Wardlow
Re: Implications of subscription only software
on May 31, 2013 at 4:27:48 pm

[Juan Salvo] "I wouldn't be surprised if in five years a plurality if not a majority of individuals no longer own a traditional desktop os device (laptop/desktop) but instead use a Tablet running a mobile os as their primary computing platform.

So for consumers they'll be buying lots of cheapie apps through an app store, essentially renting, without realizing they're renting.

For professionals, I think the subscription model makes a lot of sense. Particularly as it allows you to write-off the entire cost of subscription. Many professional applications already work in a upfront & subscription (support contract) model. And in some circumstances even allows you to just pay for the software when you use it. Better than risking a large investment in some highly specialized software that you may or may not be able to turn into a viable business."


What about those that fall in between the designation of "professional" and "consumer?" The artist that may not see instant return on what they create? Is it possible that a subscription only base and increase in the cost of traditional desktop and laptop could force them out for the most part?

The reality of creative endeavor is that its practitioners cannot be neatly filed into two categories: those who do it as a living and those who don't.

In the long run, I don't think this will be the case. An artist is often forced to make due with the materials at hand (and a lot of times these hurdles benefit the creative process). Still, in a way, it is a shame as technology was making a vast palate of tools available to more folks than ever before. It would be kind of sad if the economics of the thing started taking those tools away.


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Juan Salvo
Re: Implications of subscription only software
on May 31, 2013 at 5:04:18 pm

[Clint Wardlow] "What about those that fall in between the designation of "professional" and "consumer?" The artist that may not see instant return on what they create? Is it possible that a subscription only base and increase in the cost of traditional desktop and laptop could force them out for the most part?
"


Well how is 50/month a higher cost of entry than 1500 one time payment? I think for "artists" or people starting out, the subscription model, which allows them a MUCH lower cost of entry, and the ability to start or stop as they see fit is actually a better option. What's easier for artist to get 1500 dollars from a benefactor, or to get 50 bucks from recurring from several benefactors? In every artistic endeavor there are material costs, we should consider software (rental or otherwise) one such costs.

I think Adobe has made a decision to target their product at professional users (that is people who make a living/income from the software), they are focusing features and development on those very user's needs. A company like Apple on the other hand has made the decision to focus FCPX on the enthusiasts market (it's a much bigger market) who require different features, and a lower cost of entry. Both are legitimate customers, and both deserve to have products available that suit their needs. But they don't both have to use/buy/rent the same product.

Colorist | Online Editor | Post Super | VFX Artist | BD Author

http://JuanSalvo.com


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Clint Wardlow
Re: Implications of subscription only software
on May 31, 2013 at 5:21:01 pm

[Juan Salvo] "Well how is 50/month a higher cost of entry than 1500 one time payment? I think for "artists" or people starting out, the subscription model, which allows them a MUCH lower cost of entry, and the ability to start or stop as they see fit is actually a better option"

Because, often the artist will see a big pay day from a piece of work that allows such a purchase. A large one-time outlay is often better than a smaller monthly bill for a revenue stream that isn't constant.

The cost of entry may be cheaper, but keeping up with the payment, maybe not. Once the subscription ends, the ability to work on a long-term project in that software also ends. So if the artist finds themself strapped for cash, the ability to work on a project that may result in a large payday at some point down the road is hampered.


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Gustavo Bermudas
Re: Implications of subscription only software
on May 31, 2013 at 6:29:26 pm

[Juan Salvo] "Well how is 50/month a higher cost of entry than 1500 one time payment? I think for "artists" or people starting out, the subscription model, which allows them a MUCH lower cost of entry, and the ability to start or stop as they see fit is actually a better option. What's easier for artist to get 1500 dollars from a benefactor, or to get 50 bucks from recurring from several benefactors? In every artistic endeavor there are material costs, we should consider software (rental or otherwise) one such costs."

You know, it's been talked and talked about the benefits, and yes, $50/month is not that bad considering, but at the end of the day, this is model that is going to fail, just look at everybody's reactions, go to their Facebook page and read what people are saying, do a google search on Creative Cloud alone, people don't want to be tied to payment plans, nobody likes that, you put up with necessities that you may have no choice, like phone bills. We've been reading for years about getting rid of cable subscription (which I did)

They shouldn't underestimate the popular voice, yes, there are some that they see a value, I did for this first year, but there is a way larger picture than this, and it's consumer adoption in the long term and market dominance, and on this, they're going to fail, and Adobe will have to start selling departments just like Avid did to survive. Look how fast FCP7, being the king of NLEs got destitute, yes, it's a different situation, but the end result is the same, people move on.


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Rainer Schubert
Re: Implications of subscription only software
on Jun 1, 2013 at 12:03:27 pm

As discussed so many times before: The $50 entry is only a month!
It´s no good deal after all. There are so many who use their software without updates for many years... and than the math changes.
The ability to work with tools that might be older but good enough. The right to open your old, own creations livelong.

BtW: If you are on the entry - and you only have $50... ???
If you are under that pressure, the day will come, where you can´t pay your fee and the client is at the door and you can´t open his files...

And last: Absolutely NO ONE has something against a cloud as an option, as before.
(Only ONE serious argument - from customers sight - why this has to be changed?)


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Gary Huff
Re: Implications of subscription only software
on May 31, 2013 at 4:32:35 pm

[Juan Salvo] "So for consumers they'll be buying lots of cheapie apps through an app store, essentially renting, without realizing they're renting."

It's a tenuous description of purchasing through an App Store as "renting". Renting implies routine payments, which, currently, none of the mobile OS App Stores require.

For instance, I don't "rent" a camera for $200 and then, perhaps some day in the future, I lose access to it. That's not renting.


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Juan Salvo
Re: Implications of subscription only software
on May 31, 2013 at 4:54:15 pm

What i mean is, you're constantly paying for new apps the refine or update what you're doing. Perhaps renting isn't the right word. But what I meant is, it's cheaper, but you pay more often.

Colorist | Online Editor | Post Super | VFX Artist | BD Author

http://JuanSalvo.com


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Shawn Miller
Re: Implications of subscription only software
on May 31, 2013 at 7:41:04 pm

[Juan Salvo] "...but instead use a Tablet running a mobile os as their primary computing platform."

I wouldn't bet on that. I think a lot of people are coming around to the realization that tablets are great for viewing content, but not so great for sitting down and creating content. I have coworkers who initially started using tablets for 80% of their work (two years ago), but who are now using laptops for anything that involves writing, editing or other active work related tasks. I've noticed the same thing in my own work behaviors, I like browsing content on my tablet, but the creation process is just painful on anything but a workstation or a laptop. YMMV

Shawn



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Rainer Schubert
Re: Implications of subscription only software
on Jun 1, 2013 at 11:51:30 am

In short: You´ll tell me, that you will edit videos in a professional way on your ipad in 5 years with a cloud solution?
Welcome to spaceship enterprise. We are in 2013!


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David Lawrence
Re: Implications of subscription only software
on May 31, 2013 at 7:27:24 pm

[Clint Wardlow] "from Walter Biscard's blog: "within 5 years we’ll see all the software on subscription only basis.""

I think Walter's wrong on this. Just look at the Avid Medic Composer 7 ad in the right hand sidebar to see why.

Software as service has been the wet dream of big software corporations for years, but even Microsoft acknowledges that it will take at least a decade before this becomes the dominate model. Even then, as long as applications fully load and run form a user's local hard drive, the case for the software being a "service" is weak at best.

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Clint Wardlow
Re: Implications of subscription only software
on May 31, 2013 at 7:51:28 pm

[David Lawrence] "I think Walter's wrong on this. Just look at the Avid Medic Composer 7 ad in the right hand sidebar to see why.

Software as service has been the wet dream of big software corporations for years, but even Microsoft acknowledges that it will take at least a decade before this becomes the dominate model. Even then, as long as applications fully load and run form a user's local hard drive, the case for the software being a "service" is weak at best."


David, I hope you are right. With a subscription-only scenario, the thought of having to manage the myriad of monthly payments needed for the cornucopia of software and plugins I use gives me a headache.


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Implications of subscription only software
on May 31, 2013 at 9:12:45 pm

[Clint Wardlow] "...the thought of having to manage the myriad of monthly payments needed for the cornucopia of software and plugins I use gives me a headache."

Oh, that ain't the half of it, sir. Adobe says subscriptions allow them to update applications as the software engineers come up with them. It's a benefit, they say. But is it?

What if an update or an upgrade -- what will they call them, anyway? -- aces out your pricey plugins?
Will Adobe give plugin developers time to catch up before it releases a new revision?
Will plugin developers introduce their revisions piecemeal?
Will some plugins work with a newly-released cloud application, and some not quite yet?
Will you find yourself in the unenviable position of really wanting new features in Adobe CC applications, but can't take advantage of them because the plugins you need won't work?

Sure, it will be YOUR option whether or not to pull the trigger on new Adobe subscription software, but that means you forego all those wonderful new blue-sky features... while still forking over 50 bucks a month (currently) to keep the old software working.

Speaking of plugins, I wonder what an outfit like Red Giant Software, purveyors of plugins for all sorts of applications, thinks about this whole CC deal?

You're worried about keeping the payments for all those subscriptions straight. I think it's going to be a far greater nightmare keeping track of which ancillary software actually works with the new primary software.

Dave LaRonde
Former Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Todd Kopriva
Re: Implications of subscription only software
on May 31, 2013 at 9:43:00 pm

> often the artist will see a big pay day from a piece of work that allows such a purchase. A large one-time outlay is often better than a smaller monthly bill for a revenue stream that isn't constant.


If you'd like to continue to pay in larger one-time outlays like that, you can pre-pay for a year ahead of time.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Todd Kopriva, Adobe Systems Incorporated
After Effects quality engineering
After Effects team blog
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Clint Wardlow
Re: Implications of subscription only software
on May 31, 2013 at 10:02:27 pm

[Todd Kopriva] "If you'd like to continue to pay in larger one-time outlays like that, you can pre-pay for a year ahead of time."

That is true. However, it would be much more attractive if it lasted more than a year. A year down the road, when the subscription is due, you may not have a similar pay day that covers the subscription price. When you live hand to mouth it is kind of pay when you can.


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Clint Wardlow
Re: Implications of subscription only software
on May 31, 2013 at 10:41:39 pm

"[Todd Kopriva] "If you'd like to continue to pay in larger one-time outlays like that, you can pre-pay for a year ahead of time."


I should also say, thanks for responding. My original thread wasn't really meant to single out Adobe per se. It was more aimed at Walter's statement off all software being subscription in half a decade and the practical & philosophical implications of such.

I am a cloud subscriber, and at the intro price, pretty happy with it for now. Once that year is up, the jury is out whether I will continue or not. Less happy with CC being my only option past CS6.

I was more interested in the practicality of all software being subscription only. The only way I can see such a future being viable is if software subscription became like cable bundles from 3rd party vendors. With the current state of cable service bloat, I find the idea rather depressing. Locked into packages with boodles of applications and only a handful are useful.


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Todd Kopriva
Re: Implications of subscription only software
on May 31, 2013 at 11:33:34 pm

The ability to prepay for more than a year at a time is being looked into.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Todd Kopriva, Adobe Systems Incorporated
After Effects quality engineering
After Effects team blog
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


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David Lawrence
Re: Implications of subscription only software
on Jun 1, 2013 at 4:42:07 am

[Todd Kopriva] "The ability to prepay for more than a year at a time is being looked into."

Todd, I also want to say thanks for answering in this particular forum.

A prepay period for more than a year is a step in the right direction. If Adobe were to combine that with a way of exiting the subscription with a copy of the software that still works (without cloud-dependant features, of course) after X years and X dollars spent, I would sign up without hesitation. The idea of a loyalty buyout seems entirely reasonable, doable, and would end the controversy immediately. I hope senior management are listening and considering this idea.

I'd much rather be posting Futurama clips and talking about how awesome the new software is than debating business models. It's a lot more fun.

_______________________
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Rainer Schubert
Re: Implications of subscription only software
on Jun 1, 2013 at 7:28:37 pm

Indeed. The missing buyout plan is the main failure of this so totally wrong named "cloud" ("hire").
I don´t even need one of that cloud gimmicks & I wonder why professionals will use the cloud-solution of a software provider!?
I have my own server for that few services I need it for (Store clients files / Adressbook / and all the services that have to be synced like mail).
The complete workflow is done on very much faster inhouse server. Apps have to run local, as they are to much resource hungry in case of Adobes Core-Apps.
So I simply call it Gimmicks - simply don´t need them.
Cloud computing doesn´t make any sense in case of all their core-Apps.
And I still don´t have to sell my creations via Adobe, nor want to look for footage there, and so on as they point out as advantage.

But the missing access (editable) to archive is a knockout argument.
Absolutely not acceptable.
If they would have implemented that - I think the concerns of usership would even be half as big as now.
Also that was the first argument I really couldn´t believe after I heard of their decision on May 6th.
But they already declared that they will not change that in a way, that you can open, change and save your archived files.
There will only be made a few modifications for the Photoshop Enthusiasts.
So you still can save into useless, non-fully-editable file-formats.

So if they would have offered a solution with a Buy-Out strategy I would not likely, but I would have had an eye on the cloud.
Beside all the other lacks of that.
But for me the point is behind.


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Tom Daigon
Re: Implications of subscription only software
on Jun 2, 2013 at 4:12:14 pm

And Id be in line right behind you David, signing up as well.

Tom Daigon
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Juan Salvo
Re: Implications of subscription only software
on May 31, 2013 at 11:21:55 pm

[Dave LaRonde] "What if an update or an upgrade -- what will they call them, anyway? -- aces out your pricey plugins?"
You're under no obligation to install it.
[Dave LaRonde] "Will Adobe give plugin developers time to catch up before it releases a new revision?"
They've still got a testing and development process. So I'd imagine so.
[Dave LaRonde] "Will plugin developers introduce their revisions piecemeal?"
I'm not sure how you mean this. Plugins continue to work as they have. For what it's worth CC I'm sure will have broad plugin support.
[Dave LaRonde] "Will some plugins work with a newly-released cloud application, and some not quite yet?"
I think this falls under the "as it has always been, so it is now" banner. Sometimes updates will break plugs, sometimes just the plug installer. Sometimes they'll work perfectly with the new software. Plugin makers will have to occasionally update plugs.
[Dave LaRonde] "Will you find yourself in the unenviable position of really wanting new features in Adobe CC applications, but can't take advantage of them because the plugins you need won't work?"
I imagine this could potentially be the case. At AENY Steve Forde mentioned this as a concern of theirs and something they're looking to implement solutions, in order to minimize issues.

[Dave LaRonde] "Speaking of plugins, I wonder what an outfit like Red Giant Software, purveyors of plugins for all sorts of applications, thinks about this whole CC deal?"

Well I don't think Aharon Rabinowitz is speaking in an official capacity as an employee of Red Giant, but he did write a thoughtful and fair-minded article on the whole creative cloud issue a couple of weeks ago.

http://allbetsareoff.com/2013/05/creative-cloud/

Certainly worth a read.


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Todd Kopriva
Re: Implications of subscription only software
on May 31, 2013 at 11:43:06 pm

Regarding plug-ins:

There are three major kinds of things that make plug-ins not work with an updated host application (like After Effects):
1) changes to the architecture
2) changes to the API
3) changes to the locations of directories (e.g., installation directories)

regarding 1: We make changes to the architecture very rarely (e.g., like when porting to 64-bit in CS5). The pace of these changes won't likely increase, unless the changes are forced on us by other parties --- i.e., OS and processor makers.

regarding 2: Our API changes tend to be made to allow old plug-ins to keep working.

regarding 3: This is where almost all of the churn is, but it's very minor churn. If After Effects CS6 is looking in a CS6 directory for a plug-in, but the installer for that plug-in put it in the old CS5 location, the plug-in won't load. The easy way to work past that is to manually copy the plug-ins to the right place (or make an alias/shortcut). The plug-in makers usually get around to updating their installers right around the time that we release, though, so this isn't usually a problem. But there can be bugs. For example, Knoll Light Factory's preset browser is looking in one place for the presets, but they're in another place; Red Giant is fixing that now.

Overall, the pace and method of development for the plug-in makers isn't much affected by the Creative Cloud shift. The plug-in makers are involved in our prerelease testing, and we have a very open channel of communication.

I had dinner with Aharon Rabinowitz of Red Giant last night, and I'm sure that he would have let me know if there were any concerns.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Todd Kopriva, Adobe Systems Incorporated
After Effects quality engineering
After Effects team blog
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Implications of subscription only software
on Jun 1, 2013 at 12:02:12 am

[Juan Salvo] " I don't think Aharon Rabinowitz is speaking in an official capacity as an employee of Red Giant, but he did write a thoughtful and fair-minded article on the whole creative cloud issue a couple of weeks ago."

I read it. Despite your deft deflection of the intent of the question that prompted this response, I still wonder how the company itself and NOT Aharon is going to react, and more importantly, what it's going to DO. That word is "wonder". It is not "expect an explanation".

Dave LaRonde
Former Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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