Adobe InDesign CS becomes a Cloud-Only InDesign CC
Don’t panic. You might recall those memorable words from The Hitchhiker’s Guide, and they are certainly words of wisdom today. Adobe annouced today that they are adopting a cloud-only future, and the next version of InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, and all our favorite tools, will be be available only by subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud. Some people will flail their arms and say it’s the beginning of the end; others will breathe a sigh of relief; most folks will wonder what it all means.
There is so much news and background here that we’ll be breaking this into several articles. But I have to get a few quick InDesign-focused headlines off my chest:
- InDesign’s name/branding becomes InDesign CC.
- InDesign CS6 will continue to be sold.
- InCopy will be added to the Creative Cloud. (If you don’t want the whole cloud, you can get a subscription to InCopy only for $10/month!)
- InDesign gets a new dark UI (so it looks more like its siblings, Illustrator and Photoshop), a performance boost by going all 64-bit on the Mac OS, and a few minor features (like QR codes and a pretty awesome new Font menu in the Control panel).
- CC ships June 17.
Okay, now let me explain.
Adobe, like all software developers, needs income. They’re not trying to rip you off or reach into your wallet unnecessarily. They’re not overly greedy thugs or bullies, like some flamers have implied. They need income to keep supporting and improving their software. And, like most software developers, they have found that it no longer works to offer new versions once every 12-24 months and hoping that people will upgrade. That model, which worked for two decades, just doesn’t anymore. The world has changed, and it has become clear that the only way for Adobe to provide products is to provide them as a service.
Unfortunately, Adobe has not been particularly good at offering services in the past — they tend to kill them in one way or another. So many of us have wondered about the future of this whole “cloud” thing. But today it became very, very clear that this is different. Adobe is saying, “we’re betting the farm on this strategy. We cannot go back to the old days.”
That said, Adobe acknowledges that there are a lot of people who simply cannot jump the chasm and go all-subscription yet. That’s why they’re going to continue supporting (and selling) the CS6 product line. They may be crazy, but they’re not insane!
Dispelling a Myth
By the way, I need to take a moment and clear up something important: A “cloud” subscription does not mean you use the software in the cloud. It means:
- There are no more boxes. You must install the software by downloading it with the nifty, new “Adobe Creative Cloud” app.
- You still install the software on your desktop or laptop computer.
- The software “calls home” over the internet once every so often (at least once a month) to make sure you’re still a paid subscriber. This only becomes a significant problem if you’re going to live in a cave with no internet access for more than a couple months at a time.
For more myths debunked, please see Terry White’s article here.
Adobe is painfully aware that they need to “sell” this big change to their customers, and so they’re doing everything they can to make it clear this is a value proposition: You agree to a new pricing/distribution model and they give you a lot in return.
- Price: To be honest, the price of the Cloud is already reasonably low, but they’re making it even lower for the first year (and possibly longer). If you already own CS6, it’s only $20/month to get the whole cloud. That’s $240 for the whole shebang. (If you own an earlier version, there are other discounts.)
- Products: Remember Adobe’s “master collection”? It was over $2000? you’re getting all that plus more with the Creative Cloud. The only way to get Muse, Edge, and some other products is through CC.
- Fonts and Services: Adobe bought Typekit, the leading online web font service. Guess what: It’s a creative cloud service now! And even better: You’re soon going to be able to download Typekit fonts to your desktop to use inside InDesign! Adobe bought Behance, the leading online creative community. Guess what: you get a “paid” subscription free with the Cloud. It’s clear that Adobe is bulking up the value with these add-ons!
- Cloudy Stuff: Adobe has already started adding “cloudy stuff” — that’s what I call features that are directly related to cloud services. The idea is that there are things these programs can do when they know you’re connected to the cloud. We’re going to be hearing more about these features soon!
Remember when Steve Jobs and Apple did away with the floppy disk drive, telling people they didn’t really need it anymore? People freaked out and then, relatively quickly, realized Apple was right. I have no doubt that people will spit on the ground and stomp their feet at Adobe’s decision. Heck, personally, I hate the idea of not “owning” my software (see the Macworld article I wrote on the subject a couple of years back).
Ultimately, history will show whether this was the right choice for Adobe, but I think there’s a good chance that, over time, we all will find ourselves annoyed, then resigned, then curious, then, ultimately, excited about Adobe’s CC decision.