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Chris Pettit
Maxons approach as compared to Adobe
on Aug 27, 2013 at 12:20:05 am

Got a phone call today from sales at Maxon to remind me that my service agreement (Maxon Service Agreement) expires next week. C4D r15 releases next week, so I thought I may as well save money now by renewing the MSA. I renewed on the spot.

Maxon calls it a service agreement, but in a very real sense I think it's similar to what Adobe is after: reliable, consistent revenue from loyal, regular users of their software annually, in hopes of stabilizing revenue streams instead of "boom or bust" cycles. From my perspective it's essentially the same thing as a subscription. Win-win in my opinion: I support the company that provides me with great software, with added discounts and benefits, they get more reliable revenue stream.

As I've said before in various blogs, I understand this issue relative to software companies with mature products. Companies like Maxon and Adobe have become victims of their own success: The more stable their products become, the more users may be tempted to skip upgrades cycles because they're happy with what they have. Catch 22 for developers. I get it.

So what has Maxon done to solve this dilemma?: Provided me with all the reasons I need to renew. Simple. I get a discounted pathway to upgrades when they become available, access to their excellent pro training, and I get to support a company that I truly believe in and need for my career.

So what IS different between the Maxon and Adobe model? Chances are I would pay for the subscriptions in both cases for many years. They are both outstanding products that I use every day to make a living and will continue to support.

THE DIFFERENCE: If I choose to at some point in the distant future NOT upgrade my MSA with Maxon, I will still have the software that was obtained at the point at which I last paid for the MSA in hand. I will still be able to access my work. Simple.

How is it that Maxon gets this but Adobe just doesn't? Put another way: Is Adobe REALLY ready to never see a dime of my money ONLY because they just cant solve the exit strategy puzzle? Really?


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David Lawrence
Re: Maxons approach as compared to Adobe
on Aug 27, 2013 at 1:23:26 am

[Chris Pettit] "THE DIFFERENCE: If I choose to at some point in the distant future NOT upgrade my MSA with Maxon, I will still have the software that was obtained at the point at which I last paid for the MSA in hand. I will still be able to access my work. Simple. "

So simple, isn't it? Sounds like Maxon would rather keep customers coming back by making them happy, rather than locking them in with DRM. Sounds like a winning business model to me. Hope Adobe gets a clue soon.

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Jim Cunningham
Re: Maxons approach as compared to Adobe
on Aug 27, 2013 at 12:39:55 pm

+1!



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Rainer Schubert
Re: Maxons approach as compared to Adobe
on Aug 27, 2013 at 1:19:20 pm

1+

You are absolutely right with that.
As I wrote before in this thread - Maxon (for example) really cares about it´s customers.
They are reliable and serious. And ever helpful, in a way, I have never seen by any other software provider.
I have also the MSA and as long as they provide, I will stay with them.
(And I really hope, that the relationship between Adobe and the Nemetschek Group is not a sign for another overtake... Like all the other Adobe bought... and threw away not seldom)

And - as Adobe always telling - in the case of fast delivered updates:
I have a (Maxon-)similar contract with e-onsoftware for the VueXStream App.
And they CAN deliver fast upgrades to their MSA-customers.
They are doing that with providing free newer Beta-titled Versions to me (which I can take or not).
So they can deliver Updates without changing the contract (Adobes Marketing always telling it´s impossible to do so...)

I think, if Adobe would care about us, they can do the same or find an other way.
(Or: like in the past: Decide to take the Cloud or not. Wonder if I where in the cloud if they did not stop the option between CS and CC)
But - listen to their silence - in my eyes Adobe got that arrogant with their business success, that they lost a real view on the needs of most of us.
They know, how many of us are dependent to their stuff. They see, that in the pre-professional field competition is growing fast.
They know, how mature their apps are and how difficult to bring in "real" new features.
So they decided, to bind the customers who are most dependent or blue-eyed or newcomers (have a look to the support-questions in their forums!)
(...and please don´t answer, it´s easy to replace Adobe SW once you have learned and live with them. No: "you are free to take it or not". Adobe CAN be called a monopolist.)

No. They can´t tell me, that this change was made to do us a favor.
It´s just business and can (may be) only stopped by business (People who don´t subscribe or using alternatives).

Nothing against that users, who like the new distribution. And nothing against business, as a win win like you wrote.
But I´m really in fear, that - if they get away with this and MS too - we will have a scenario one day, where not well situated people are not able to start their PC, because their bank-account does not allow to do so.

The Software distribution like in the past was fair in my eyes.
Especially in that way, that you had something to work with, if you decide (or have to) stop paying.
I´m absolut against CashCow (as a non option and without Buy-out).
To me it´s a question of philosophy and fairness.
(Espec. to not good situated users - whom Adobe is telling that the entrance is made easy now. Be aware.)

Very hard and time taking to "get out of Adobes universe" but possible.
I will never subscribe to this "cloud" (which isn´t really a cloud, yet)


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Walter Soyka
Re: Maxons approach as compared to Adobe
on Aug 28, 2013 at 2:04:14 pm

I like the Maxon model, too. Perpetual license plus maintenance sounds like a great business model all around.

But Maxon is still basically selling a product. It seems to me that Adobe is trying to offer something different than Maxon: products plus services.

Right now, the services side is just file sharing, preference syncing, and Behance, so maybe the value proposition is a bit muddled. But these are still early days for CC. It took CS a few versions before integration features really ramped up, and I'd expect it would take some time before this new development philosophy bears fruit, too.

I have said from the beginning here that if Creative Cloud is just a new way to pay for Creative Suite, it'll be a huge disappointment. I really hope to see the services side developed more, because I think that there are huge opportunities for innovation there.

Watching this year's MAX keynote and reading the Creative Cloud open letter suggests that Adobe is moving to take CC beyond a bundle of desktop apps (like C4D), and I can understand why that might call for a different business model.

There's some great software in CC, and I'd love to see Adobe find a way to make you comfortable so you can use it -- but the future is not on disconnected desktop computers, and I'd hate to see Adobe back down from the vision that they've been describing for the last few months.

Walter Soyka
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Rainer Schubert
Re: Maxons approach as compared to Adobe
on Aug 28, 2013 at 6:53:33 pm

Can´t see why to rename the whole thing to "cloud"...
Can´t follow all the hype about "shared computing"... (Especially in Video-Editing via Web)
Can´t see what got different with all their Core Apps.
Can´t see why they have to left me in the rain after subscribing.

In my eyes they can pack all the Web- and Share- Stuff into one new App/Package called "cloud app" and sell this as a single product.
I simply don´t need and want it. And syncing my prefs... Hm... Nice but not more.
Web-Services are stored on my own Web-Server (long before THIS cloud) and I would never use the Storage of an provider like Adobe to hold it
(Espec. not after their behavior with killing the CS-solution)
And: It was fair as an option. It´s not fair as a must you must like.

No.
It´s not: "Following a philosophy" like they want to make us believe.
It´s simply business and trying to get the most earnings out of their mature Apps.
And,... I think, Adobe is also in fear, to loose in the "We have customers data" Market.
(Apple with their horrible business politics, Google, MS, Facebook... they all where simply faster. Adobe is late)
Nothing else.

And I hope competitors will see it as a chance to get new customers,
and not as a business model that should be copied.
In the end, may be, it´s a chance for us, to see great alternatives growing.
As I left Adobe with CashCow I´m looking around and I´m surprised, what others deliver.
Sure - Adobe delivers good stuff & thanks to all the people who made my brushes for so many years.
But for me this is not a acceptable. Not, what they call "their new philosophy", and not the fact, that I´m left with nothing after subscription.

I know you like CC. But in all the discussion here I can´t find any answer why Adobe has to change to a "cloud only" (not option) distribution.
It´s a single sided advantage for Adobe - not for us.
Simply no Win Win.


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Chris Pettit
Re: Maxons approach as compared to Adobe
on Aug 28, 2013 at 8:07:03 pm

[Walter Soyka] "But Maxon is still basically selling a product. It seems to me that Adobe is trying to offer something different than Maxon: products plus services."

[Walter Soyka] "Watching this year's MAX keynote and reading the Creative Cloud open letter suggests that Adobe is moving to take CC beyond a bundle of desktop apps (like C4D), and I can understand why that might call for a different business model. "

They haven't even really articulated a clear path as to where they're ultimately going with this innovation. I understand the enthusiasm, but all I've heard so far is talk about remote processing and multi-device concepts that I have major issues trying to understand how it would even work for video professionals. I'm sitting in front of nearly 30TB of RAID 6 storage as we speak. What possible use is remote editing or cloud based processing to me when it would take all my time just loading up and down from the cloud, even on the best possible broadband connections? And I really don't get mobile device access to projects. As has been mentioned before, I wouldn't edit or design or animate on anything other than the dual 30's I use now.

I do understand the and respect the sentiment on your part Walter. I guess where we differ is that I expect Adobe to actually produce the service innovations before I look at subscribing simply to be a part of a great new "possible" future.

While I have no doubt that there is lot's of sincerity regarding the service opportunities in the future on Adobe's part, I think at this point it's quite clear why they are instituting mandatory subscriptions: To stabilize revenue. It is without a doubt more to thier benefit that to ours, at this point.

But as I said, I'm more than willing to move ahead anyway, if they just FIX the exit issue.


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David Lawrence
Re: Maxons approach as compared to Adobe
on Aug 28, 2013 at 9:24:43 pm

[Chris Pettit] "I do understand the and respect the sentiment on your part Walter. I guess where we differ is that I expect Adobe to actually produce the service innovations before I look at subscribing simply to be a part of a great new "possible" future.

While I have no doubt that there is lot's of sincerity regarding the service opportunities in the future on Adobe's part, I think at this point it's quite clear why they are instituting mandatory subscriptions at this time: To stabilize revenue. It is without a doubt more to thier benefit that to ours, at this point."


Well said. Adobe may have plans for amazing future services, but until they actually build and deliver it's all vapor. Right now, CC applications are great, but the services are pretty shallow. Adobe needs to prove the value of their services with more than just promises. Maybe they'll get there eventually, but they're not there now.

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Walter Soyka
Re: Maxons approach as compared to Adobe
on Aug 30, 2013 at 5:23:50 pm

Rainer, Chris, David and Mike,

I absolutely understand where you guys are coming from. I fully understand why the CC value prop looks weak for you, and I don't expect to change your minds: only you can decide whether CC is right for you or not, and Adobe would have to do more to get you back.

I get that subscription is going to be a deal-breaker for some, but I don't understand the borderline "sky is falling" mentality that CC is a major threat to our livelihoods. Apps like Photoshop, After Effects, and Illustrator are all around 20 years old. Adobe has proven themselves to be a pretty constant partner to creatives. The delivery model has changed, but from where I sit, the dedication to the market hasn't.

A certain degree of faith is required from any of the major vendors in space. In alphabetical order,

Adobe: that my ability to work will not be interrupted.

Apple: that they will continue good development work in this space and keep their platform viable.

Autodesk: that Smoke will not be another *edit or Combustion, or another Avid DS.

Avid: that they'll offer a 4K-capable product real soon, and that they'll still be here next year.

Personally, I fully expect to continue relying on Adobe, Apple, and Autodesk for years to come. (I'm not a frequent Avid user anymore, but I don't think MC will vanish next week, either.)

Again, I have the utmost respect for your points of view. I don't see this as an issue of someone being right and someone being wrong -- I think we assign different values to different elements of the CS/CC offerings. I merely want to provide a little counterpoint because I don't see a threat here; I think CC is forward-thinking and a reasonable deal today.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Chris Pettit
Re: Maxons approach as compared to Adobe
on Sep 3, 2013 at 12:58:57 am

[Walter Soyka] "I get that subscription is going to be a deal-breaker for some"

I don't think that's the real story overall. Subscriptions are not necessarily deal-breakers (for me anyway), I'm just adverse to the idea of total dead-ends. Not sure why I need to keep saying that. (I started out by saying that subscriptions for both companies is something I would probably do. How long is Adobe going to wait to take "yes" for an answer?)

[Walter Soyka] " I don't understand the borderline "sky is falling" mentality that CC is a major threat to our livelihoods"

Sky falling? My post addresses the differences between Maxon and Adobe policies, don't recall saying the world was about to end. These are serious issues however Walter, and they REALLY matter, because there are plenty of other companies watching and waiting to see what's "next" in terms of market response to Mandatory subscriptions. What happens when they all decide to do this? Is asking that question the same as chicken little?

[Walter Soyka] " I think CC is forward-thinking and a reasonable deal today."

Perhaps,today. For many new users. For enterprises(in some cases). For former pirates. But not for a lot of smaller companies and creative teams that want to protect their work. Nothing reasonable about that aspect at all. What about tomorrow? That's the question that I think a lot of people like me are asking to be answered.

How do I protect the work? Simple question. Maxon has answered the question. Adobe has not.


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David Lawrence
Re: Maxons approach as compared to Adobe
on Sep 3, 2013 at 2:23:31 am

[Chris Pettit] "I don't think that's the real story overall. Subscriptions are not necessarily deal-breakers (for me anyway), I'm just adverse to the idea of total dead-ends."

[Chris Pettit] "My post addresses the differences between Maxon and Adobe policies, don't recall saying the world was about to end. These are serious issues however Walter, and they REALLY matter, because there are plenty of other companies watching and waiting to see what's "next" in terms of market response to Mandatory subscriptions. What happens when they all decide to do this?"

Well said, Chris. This is *not* about subscriptions. This is first and foremost a digital rights issue. This is about the seventh largest software company in the world forcing absolute, mandatory DRM lock-in on it's entire user base of millions of customers. You better believe every software company is watching this experiment very closely.

It's up to the millions of creatives like us for whom digital rights are as important as the tools we use to keep making this point. What we're asking of Adobe ultimately is for the benefit of all software users and (whether they realize it or not) Adobe as well.

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Chris Pettit
Re: Maxons approach as compared to Adobe
on Sep 3, 2013 at 2:52:28 am

David:

Wow. I simply had no idea Adobe was that big. (I feel less than informed for not knowing they were that dominant.)

Sometimes numbers and rankings put all of this discussion in remarkable perspective. As always, thanks for posting.

[David Lawrence] "It's up to the millions of creatives like us for whom digital rights are as important as the tools we use to keep making this point. What we're asking of Adobe ultimately is for the benefit of all software users and (whether they realize it or not) Adobe as well."

I truly believe that's exactly what the stakes are.


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David Lawrence
Re: Maxons approach as compared to Adobe
on Sep 3, 2013 at 3:28:44 am

[Chris Pettit] "Sometimes numbers and rankings put all of this discussion in remarkable perspective. As always, thanks for posting."

You're welcome, Chris.

Another thing I think is important to note is that of all the software companies on that list, Adobe is the only company that provides creative tools. Every other company on the list provides business and/or finance software. None of Adobe's competitors in the creative software industry are anywhere near Adobe's global scale, reach and influence.

The largest creative software vender on the planet is now forcing its millions of customers who want new and future software to pay rent forever, or lose the ability to work with their native digital projects. No other options.

I don't understand how anyone - especially digital creatives - wouldn't think this is a very big f-ing deal.

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Rainer Schubert
Re: Maxons approach as compared to Adobe
on Sep 3, 2013 at 9:01:37 am

Exactly.

In my eyes also: All the discussion if Adobe creates good software or not, if updates are delivered fast, if prices are OK, you have to take all or nothing...
Is not as important, as the fact, that - if Adobe goes away with this successful - it has the potential to change the software market in total.
And that´s my main concern & fear.
I also don´t understand, why there are people who accept this, or more: Call it an advantage.
In my eyes it´s not thought to the end.
Because this could have influence in the general usage of computers. And there are also social aspects.
Every bet, MS office would be the next, cutting the "as option". And that´s only the start.

And >Walter: Changing the software market (licensing of any software and OS) is a little bit (a very little bit, but) like sky is falling.


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Shawn Miller
Re: Maxons approach as compared to Adobe
on Sep 3, 2013 at 5:01:20 pm

[David Lawrence] "Another thing I think is important to note is that of all the software companies on that list, Adobe is the only company that provides creative tools. Every other company on the list provides business and/or finance software. None of Adobe's competitors in the creative software industry are anywhere near Adobe's global scale, reach and influence."


All very good points, David. Working in and around the enterprise software business for over a decade, I can say that this list isn't much of a surprise... truthfully, it never occurred to me that Adobe's scale and reach in the industry might not be apparent to everyone. To your point though, subscription software and services isn't new. Microsoft and others have been doing this for years, interesting to note though, is that these companies learned pretty early on that subscriptions are good for some kinds of customers and completely wrong for others. That's why none of them has a one fits all approach to licensing. I think this is why the annual maintenance works so well, because it's really two ways of looking at the software license, you can 'subscribe' to updates by maintaining your MSA, or you can use your software perpetually with a one time payment. It seems to work for Autodesk, Nextlimit, E-on software and others as well. I'm kind of surprised that Adobe didn't follow this model first.

Shawn



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Mike Smith
Re: Maxons approach as compared to Adobe
on Aug 28, 2013 at 7:46:26 pm

+1 Here as well.

This is the approach that Autodesk takes with Smoke and Eyeon also uses the same approach with Fusion.

My yearly subscriptions get me numerous updates AND phone support. For their part, they get sizable yearly renewal fees.

The key difference is this: if I decide to end my subscriptions, or defer them when business is slow, I don't lose the ability to use the software I paid for up to that point.

I can still open all my files to revisit and re-purpose past work or find new work. And all of this is unaffected by what these software developers decide to do with their product offerings or pricing in the future.

This makes a world of difference with my business. I can't count how many times I've had to resurrect or reconstruct projects created in old or dead software packages which I bought but can't newly license. I consider this kind of legacy access to be essential with mission critical software.

We could look at this another way:

Would Adobe allow key tools in its own business to be held under such transient, temporary terms even if the up front costs seemed low?

Would they write their own software with nicely priced but rental-only source code which automatically stops compiling 90 days after suspending or firing the developer who writes it?

I think not.

-mike


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Walter Soyka
Re: Maxons approach as compared to Adobe
on Aug 30, 2013 at 4:53:34 pm

[Mike Smith] "Would Adobe allow key tools in its own business to be held under such transient, temporary terms even if the up front costs seemed low?"

Maybe. I don't know what the terms are, but Adobe does bundle licensed third-party components.

Dropbox doesn't own their storage. They rely on Amazon S3 for it. Apple doesn't assemble their own iPhones. They have Foxconn for that. Construction companies rarely own their heavy equipment. They rent or lease it. Go back a decade, and production companies rented or leased Avid systems all the time.

I get why people here are nervous about using a product that they can't own, especially since it's a change from the current status quo in our industry.

Ideologically, the gap between ownership and subscription is huge. Practically, I think the gap is a lot smaller than is usually stated here.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
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Mike Smith
Re: Maxons approach as compared to Adobe
on Aug 31, 2013 at 4:40:38 am

Sorry Walter, but outsourced server infrastructure and outsourced manufacturing are not equivalent examples. Frankly, neither is the 3rd party software and 3rd party code that Adobe licenses.

I'm sure I could still install my 10 year old Zaxworks 3d plugin into the old copy of After Effect that it came with because its not designed to stop working if licensing partnership ends.

Similarly, when Apple dropped deck control in FCPX, they no longer needed to license the 3rd party code that dealt with deck control in Final Cut 7 and earlier. But that change didn't mean that the deck control in FCP 7 suddenly stopped working because that portion of the software was not perpetually licensable.

In both cases the widget you paid for doesn't stop functioning because you stop paying or decide you want to pay someone else. And whatever you've created with that widget can still be opened, manipulated and output again.

Actually, you raise an interesting question.

What if this inherently temporary model of "Software-as-Service" means that the underlying features of the software ITSELF become fluid because they can be governed by temporary agreements just like our subscription?

What if Adobe has a disagreement with a software partner or subcontractor and decides not to "renew" their agreement?

What if a casual software update suddenly results in certain features disappearing like CBS networks on Time Warner?

That would certainly make Adobe's software behave more like a "service," and in this case - I don't think we would like it.

Anyhow...to wrap up my previous rant...

iPhone manufacturing would only be comparable if Apple's blueprints, manufacturing processes and supply chain were proprietary to Foxconn and unusable without an active manufacturing agreement with them.

And Dropbox's reliance on a third party datacenter would only be comparable if all the data they stored was rendered unreadable when moved to a different provider's server infrastructure. (While changing the underlying infrastructure of a cloud service is far from trivial, its not impossible and since their database formatting is not proprietary to Amazon under a rental-only agreement, they could probably re-tool themselves at a different datacenter much more easily than I could open a Premiere project directly into an Avid!)

We Adobe users are at a severe disadvantage, because Adobe provides wonderful tools for creative work, but the project data we generate with Adobe's software is not really portable or editable outside of their software which makes us much more locked into their continued use even when they force fundamental changes to the very nature of software ownership.

-mike


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Walter Soyka
Re: Maxons approach as compared to Adobe
on Sep 5, 2013 at 1:50:16 pm

[Mike Smith] "Sorry Walter, but outsourced server infrastructure and outsourced manufacturing are not equivalent examples. "

I'm curious as to why not, Mike. I only used examples of businesses who are 100% reliant on other businesses for their key offering.

A point that's made over and over here is that it's unacceptable for a business to rely on a product they don't own. My point is that it's actually pretty rare for any business to be that independent.


[Mike Smith] "We Adobe users are at a severe disadvantage, because Adobe provides wonderful tools for creative work, but the project data we generate with Adobe's software is not really portable or editable outside of their software which makes us much more locked into their continued use even when they force fundamental changes to the very nature of software ownership."

Open standards would provide a lot more freedom than perpetual licenses.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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