Adobe Creative Cloud: What it means for you (no matter who you are)

Adobe Creative Cloud means many different things to different people - read on to find out if it's worth the monthly subscription.

Covered in depth by Digital Trends’ Geoff Duncan, Adobe’s Creative Suite CS6 announcement introduced an entirely new way to license the company’s products: Creative Cloud, which provides access to a vast library of Adobe’s software for a monthly or annual fee. Below, find out if Creative Cloud makes sense for you, no matter who you are.

What is Creative Cloud

Creative Cloud makes Adobe’s most powerful applications available via a subscription model for the very first time. Creative Cloud users can access all software contained in Adobe’s formidable (and, at $2,599, costly) Master Collection CS6 bundle at a much more tenable price point: $49.99 per month for the service’s annual plan or $74.99 per month when paying on a monthly basis. Adobe offers discounts for students and teachers ($29.99 per month in an annual-only plan) and owners of any Creative Suite version 3.0 or later (also $29.99 and requiring a year-long commitment).

The Math

If I need access to Adobe’s entire software library, I have two options: Creative Cloud or Master Collection CS6. A Master Collection license is forever. Creative Cloud requires money on a constant basis. If you know that you will need access to Adobe’s entire application library forever, Master Collection seems to be the better option — if you have the means.

However, it’s not that easy when you consider software updates. Upgrading to Master Suite CS6 from a previous version will cost a minimum of $525. Creative Cloud provides up-to-date software without additional cost. Theoretically, Master Suite CS7 would cost a CS6 owner a total of $3,124: $2,599 for their original CS6 license and the $525 upgrade fee. That same $3,124 purchases more than 5 years of Creative Cloud access to the same applications.

Adobe Creative Suite may be suited toward certain users, but a large share of Adobe's customers may want to hang on to their one-time licenses.Factoring in upgrade fees (and assuming that Creative Cloud always provides access to the most up-to-date software), Creative Cloud will provide access to Adobe’s latest, greatest applications at a lower cost than Master Suite — as long as Adobe updates Master Suite to CS7 sometime in the next five years.

Creative Cloud becomes a worse option the fewer applications you use. If you only need Photoshop, Creative Cloud will become more expensive than that single application license after just 14 months. Purchasing a Photoshop license outright would probably be a better option in this case.

Good News, (Almost) Everyone!

Creative Cloud will make Adobe’s applications available in a way they never were before. Many customers will benefit from this offering. So will Adobe. Here are the parties that will benefit most from Creative Cloud:

Power Users – If you need the power afforded by Adobe’s entire Master Collection, this is the plan you have been waiting for. Creative Cloud offers all applications included in Adobe’s largest bundle plus access to new, online-only apps like Muse and Edge (though at an additional monthly cost). Over the same span of time, the total cost for Creative Cloud is likely to be less than that for Master Collection.

New Users – Creative Cloud is also a great option for users new to Adobe’s family of applications. If you need more experience than Adobe’s month-long trials afford, $74.99 is a lot easier to pay than several hundred or even thousands of dollars.

Temporary Users – If your client project requires the Master Collection and ends in three months, it’s a lot easier to pay $225 for three months of Creative Cloud access than to pay $2,599 to own Master Collection for the same period of time.

Adobe – Creative Cloud makes Adobe’s software an option for many who can otherwise not afford it. Further, even existing users may gain access to software previously unavailable to them. In this way, Creative Cloud serves as a showcase for Adobe’s product line, hooking users on new apps which require them to remain Creative Cloud subscribers.

Other Perspectives

Creative Cloud will be less attractive to other user groups. They are:

Master Collection Owners – Though Adobe is offering Creative Cloud at a 40% discount to Master Collection license holders, “upgrading” to Creative Cloud may not offer much beyond convenience features like cloud storage and syncing. Any designer worth his or her salt probably already has a data management solution. Existing Master Collection users may want to hold off from subscribing to Creative Cloud.

Hobbyists – If you’re using Adobe’s products “just for fun,” it may by psychologically easier to splurge on their expensive software once as opposed to spending money every month. We may have no problem justifying an unnecessary purchase if we are temporarily-rich from our last tax refund, but when we’re spending hundreds of dollars each month just to keep our tech services running we may start to be more conscious of where that money is going.

Old-School Users – If Photoshop CS4 was the perfect Photoshop for you then there isn’t really any reason to upgrade until Creative Cloud offers features that you can’t live without. Before those features become available, Creative Cloud won’t be worth the switching cost or the monthly fee.

License Abusers and Pirates – The millions of people stealing Adobe’s applications should heed Creative Cloud as a “shot across the bow.” Though pirates always seem to be one step ahead, subscription software models will probably make software theft much more difficult.


Though software-as-a-service isn’t a new concept, Creative Cloud is the most prominent professional-grade example so far. If it is successful, the business strategy could lead to similar plans from other publishers. Those purchase decisions should be considered in the same way as they are for Creative Cloud. Balance the one-time purchase price against the monthly fee. Consider the other benefits and drawbacks of that service, and then make your decision accordingly.

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Home Theater

Sling TV ramps up its base programming with Discovery Networks for free

Sling TV has grown a great deal since its launch. Now there are more channels and more packages to chose from, with prices to match, and more is being added all the time. Everything you need to know is right here.

Having enough RAM is important, but stick to these guidelines to save some money

Although not quite as exciting as processors and graphics cards, RAM is one of the most important parts of your PC. Not having enough can hurt performance. So, how much RAM do you need?

Snatch Apple’s 2017 15-inch MacBook Pro for up to $1,200 off at B&H

The latest deal at B&H is offering up 2017 15-inch Apple MacBook Pros, in space gray and silver, with Intel Core i7 quad-core CPUs, 16GB of RAM, and AMD Radeon Pro 560 GPUs with up to 2TB of SSD storage.

I tried an LTE laptop for a month, and I wasn’t really convinced

LTE laptops offer up plenty of benefits and are becoming more common. After spending one month with one in my daily life in New York City, I really wondered if it is something that consumers really need in their lives.

Microsoft’s Chromium Edge browser may be adding your Chrome extensions

Fans sticking to Google Chrome because due to its vast extension library might be able to switch over to Microsoft's latest iteration of Edge, as a project manager confirms that the company has its eyes on Chrome extensions.
Emerging Tech

An A.I. cracks the internet’s squiggly letter bot test in 0.5 seconds

How do you prove that you’re a human when communicating on the internet? The answer used to be by solving a CAPTCHA puzzle. But maybe not for too much longer. Here is the reason why.

Apple Mac users should take a bite out of these awesome games

Contrary to popular belief, there exists a bevy of popular A-list games compatible for Mac computers. Take a look at our picks for the best Mac games available for Apple fans.

Qualcomm’s dual-screen PC concept looks like two connected Surface Go tablets

In Qualcomm's video teaser, we got a glimpse of the company's vision for how a dual-screen ARM PC should work. The internet reacted to Qualcomm's video, calling the device in question merely a mashup of two Surface Go tablets.

Check out the best Green Monday deals for those last-minute gifts

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone, but that doesn't mean you've missed your chance of finding a great deal. We're talking about Green Monday, of course, and it falls on December 10.

Hololens 2 could give the Always Connected PC a new, ‘aggressive’ form

Microsoft is said to be leaning on Qualcomm to power its Hololens 2 headset. Instead of Intel CPUs, the next Hololens could use a Snapdragon 850 processor, allowing it to benefit from the always-connected features.

Chrome’s dark mode may cast its shadow over Macs by early 2019

By early 2019 Google may release a version of Chrome for Mac users that offers a Dark Mode feature to match MacOS Mojave's recent darkening.

These laptop bags will keep your notebook secure wherever you go

Choosing the right laptop bag is no easy feat -- after all, no one likes to second-guess themselves. Here are some of the best laptop bags on the market, from backpacks to sleeves, so you can get it right the first time around.
Home Theater

Step aside set-top boxes, the best streaming sticks are tiny and just as powerful

Which streaming stick reigns supreme? We pit the Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra against the Roku Premiere, Roku Streaming Stick+, and the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K to help you decide which one will be the best fit in your living room.