December 21, 2019

Is Adobes subscription model that bad?

In the last 4-5 years there have been a lot of discussions/rants about subscriptions, are they good? bad? Are the companies holding our data hostage? Shouldn’t all change to apps with perpetual licenses” instead? And yes, I used to think that subscriptions were something really horrible and I started to look for non-subscription apps. I actually stopped using one piece of software when they went to a subscription model. It’s an really nice app that I was using every day, but the new price was too high in my judgment so I stopped using it.

Today I don’t know if subscriptions are as bad as I once thought, Sure, some subscriptions can’t really be justified, but others make sense to me. When it comes to photography Adobes Photography Plan is the subscription that have made people most upset. And yes, I was also really upset when Adobe moved to their subscription model … but now I don’t know. The rest of this post is about Adobes Photography Plan.

Why this change in opinion? First of all, I’ve seen how some other companies behave and I really dislike how they handle software updates. It can look like this:

  • The company makes a big PR drive about their new software with all the features that is going to be in the version released reel soon.
  • The company offers you to pre-order a copy for $80 (regular price $100), but you have to order really, really quickly.
  • The software is released and you can buy it for $100 … for a short time. Unfortunately not all of the advertised features works as advertised.
  • Some bugs get fixed but there are still problems.
  • It’s possible to buy the app using various discounts so the effective price is $80
  • After about 6 months there are rumours about the next major version, that will be delivered in about 6 months.
  • You can now find the current version in various app bundles that makes the effective price really low.
  • There are now rumours of new fancy features in the upcoming version … but very little about the missing features that was advertised for the current version.
  • There is an offer to upgrade to the new version for $80 if you upgrade soon.
  • New version is released, unfortunately there are some features missing because they couldn’t be completed in time for the release.

And this cycle keeps repeating. To me this is basically a subscription model which forces” me to upgrade to the latest version since I want the functionality that was promised for the original version + bug fixes for those things that never worked.

But wait!! You can keep using the older version

Yep, true … however, I’m the type of person who sees the new shiny features and want to play with them, so I would probably upgrade to get access to these new features.

Compare this to the subscription model of Lightroom which is more expensive - I think I pay about $150/year - which seem a lot. But remember that I also get access to Photoshop and some other programs & services … both on my desktop/laptop and my mobile units.

My subscription gives me access to the latest versions of all included software without me having to worry about the cost for the next update etc. Also, $150/year might not be that bad if you compare to the alternatives, some are considerable more expensive (assuming paid updates each 12-18 months), others are cheaper but usually doesn’t offer all the features of the Lightroom/Photoshop/etc combo.

But once you stop paying the Adobe Tax, you don’t have access to your photos anymore!!

Well, the photos are still there on my hard disk so they are not lost. But it’s true that I can’t access all the features of Lightroom anymore … I can only” use everything except the developer module. This means that I can still do anything to my photos except making adjustments to them … something I’m probably not interested in if I’ve stopped my subscription. So I’m basically OK with how Adobe handles this.

But Adobe can increase the price as they want and make it really expensive

Also true and I expect them to increase the price at some time. But they have had the same price all the years I’ve been using the subscription version so they don’t seem to raise the price that often. As any company they are free to set the price as they see fit … and I’m free to pay that price or stop using their software.

But I find it difficult to decide what I should use today based on what might happen some time in the future. The only thing I can do is to judge what Adobe has done so far and that is that they have kept the price at the same level for as long as I’ve been subscribing and they have improved both Lightroom and Photoshop during that time.

That said, if Adobe were to raise the price substantially then I would re-assess and see if I would get my money worth by continuing subscribing. If I think it’s too expensive then I’ll switch to some other app … but I’ll wait until that happens.

Don’t you see any problem at all?

I don’t like subscriptions and try to avoid them as much as I can. However, sometimes they make sense and in the case of the Photography Plan I think I get my money worth and I currently can’t see any real alternatives (for me at least).

Why not use X instead?

Well, I’ve looked at many of the alternatives (to be honest I still miss Aperture … although the memory is fading) and I can’t find anyone that is better considering value for money (or functionality).

So while I don’t especially like Adobe or their software I’m going to keep subscribing to the Photography Plan … for now.


photography adobe lightroom subscriptions


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