Lightroom Creative Cloud?
Adobe announced a new Creative Cloud Photography plan bundling Photoshop CC and Lightroom but many of us didn't really take notice until an increased round of press coverage for the bundle following the keynote presentation at Photoshop World in Las Vegas at the beginning of September. No, I wasn't there. But I'm definitely intrigued by the implications of this new Photography plan.
First of all, some background for anyone not already aware. Adobe Creative Cloud is the successor to the successful Creative Suite of products including Photoshop and pretty much every other create application Adobe offers. This could easily be looked at as nothing more than a marketing driven name change if weren't for the accompanying licensing change. No longer could one purchase a physical copy of any of the included software products. All you can with the Creative Cloud versions is license their use on a month to month basis. You subscribe to them, and you get to use them. Stop paying for the ongoing subscription and you no longer have the right to use them. Needless to say, this riled up many loyal users who didn't want to be locked in to paying Adobe forever. With the old Creative Suite products, you could skip versions, or stop upgrading all together and stick with what you already owned. All that became history with the move to the Cloud. Adobe can add new features more easily and more often with the Cloud, but you have to pay whether you want those new features or not.
Obviously, many of us have paid Adobe quite a bit for upgrades every year or two anyway, and if you're a heavy Adobe user the subscription model might even be a welcome change as it allowed for simplified budgeting and quicker access to the latest features. But as the photography community has migrated away from deep dependence on Photoshop and toward Lightroom which, until now, hasn't been part of any CC plan. As such, justifying even the monthly $19.99 "Single App" plan to use Photoshop was a bit steep.
Now along comes the Creative Cloud Photography plan. For just $9.99 per month, you get access to the latest Photoshop CC version plus the latest version of Lightroom. The reduced rate certainly causes one to rethink this whole Creative Cloud thing.
First off, the annualized cost of roughly $120 is far better than the previous "Single App" price of $240, and you get Lightroom thrown in to boot. The upgrade prices for the old boxed versions of Photoshop typically cost $199. Upgrading Lightroom would run you about $79. Add these together and you'd pay $278 to upgrade both. If you did so only once every two years, you'd pay $38 more than the total monthly payments with this new plan. That makes the cost of the CC Photography plan much more reasonable than earlier CC offerings.
But wait you say, you already own Lightroom 5, the latest version. Rumor has it though that the next version will be out for beta testing this fall, with a planned release date in the spring of 2015. If you look at the historical release calendar for Lightroom, this sounds about right and even if it is off, it can't be off by much. According to Wikipedia, Lightroom version 1 came out in February 2007 and was followed by version 2 in July 2008. Version 3 was released in June 2010. Version 4 debuted in March 2012 and the current version 4 of Lightroom was released in June 2013. Yes it has been over a year since Lightroom 5 came out. Within the year, it will be time to upgrade Lightroom again if you want to stay current.
And just what will the next version of Lightroom be? Especially in light of this new plan, I wouldn't at all be surprised to see Lightroom CC rather than Lightroom 6.
Think about it. Despite the grumbling from us photographers, Adobe reports that acceptance and profitability of the Creative Cloud licensing model has met their targets. And with so many of their major product offerings already part of the Cloud, it's only a matter of time before Lightroom joins them. That's not based on anything Adobe has said that I'm aware of, it just seems like common sense. It's the direction Adobe and indeed a number of other software vendors are moving. If the change to Lightroom in the Cloud doesn't happen this time around, it almost certainly will. And I think Adobe is strongly hinting at their intentions with this new announcement.
Moreover, Lightroom is already has a mobile iOS offering (strangely, no Android Lightroom yet) and the new Photography plan lists Lightroom Desktop, Mobile and Web. Seems to point towards their future plans. The current Lightroom Mobile already requires users to have a Creative Cloud subscription.
So isn't this just a limited time price? Well, seemingly yes and no. Adobe could change their minds at any time, but the current answer is that it is indeed a limited time deal, but for those that subscribe by the deadline, the monthly $9.99 price continues in perpetuity. Depending on where you look, the current offer is either open-ended or closes as of December 31 this year. At a minimum, you have some time to think things over before having to decide either way. In any event, the cost equation has changed with the Creative Cloud Photography announcement so the subject deserves a second look.
My best reading at this point though is that indeed Adobe has heard our concerns and rethought things themselves. If they wanted to keep the photography community from jumping ship entirely, they had to do something. And unless you plan to turn your back on Adobe completely within the coming years, you have to do something as well.