January 5, 2012

Adobe Announces Pricing Change for Photoshop Upgrades

If you currently use Photoshop CS4 or older, you should know that Adobe has changed its policy regarding upgrades. Beginning with the upcoming Photoshop CS6 (anticipated mid-2012 release), you must have a current license for Photoshop CS5 to qualify for upgrade pricing to Photoshop CS6. This is a change from the previous policy in which photographers who owned Photoshop CS2 or newer could upgrade to the latest version at a discounted price.

If you don't have a license for Photoshop CS5, then you will have to pay full price to get a copy of CS6 when it becomes available. In the past, upgrade prices have been $150-$199 (depending on where you purchased) while full version prices have been $650-$699 (depending on where you purchased).

Adobe is offering "Creative Cloud" pricing for all desktop products (which include the Creative Suite of software), Touch applications, digital publishing services and community collaboration resources. This is a subscription service that costs $49.99 per month for individuals. It appears from the Adobe announcement that this entitles you to use any of the Creative Suite applications in addition to Photoshop (e.g. InDesign, Dreamweaver, Illustrator, etc.).

However, if you are only interested in Photoshop, then the cost of a subscription will equal the cost of purchasing a full copy of the new version within a year. If the production cycle extends beyond 12 months, you would end up paying more than the price of a full copy. But the benefit is that when a new version of Photoshop is released, it would be included in your subscription without your having to formally purchase an upgrade.

There has also been some discussion of the possibility that new features in CS6 would only be available through the subscription license and not in the individual upgrade license. If this turns out the be the case, people will undoubtedly express dissatisfaction with the arrangement.

There is some confusion over whether Lightroom is considered part of the "Cloud" of software or not. A video presentation by an Adobe Financial Analyst showed a slide with the Lightroom logo being part of the Creative Cloud. But Lightroom is currently not considered part of the Creative Suite. We will have to wait for clarification from Adobe on Lightroom's status in the new subscription model.

So if you only use Photoshop on a regular basis, you have a choice to make about moving to new versions. If you use Photoshop plus another Adobe product (such as InDesign or possibly Lightroom), then it may be more cost effective for you to purchase the subscription since this would cost less than buying upgrades to two or more programs.

This new pricing structure does not affect Photoshop Elements (now in version 10).

For more information about this change from Adobe, you can read the announcement here. My colleague Laura Shoe (from whom I learned about this change) has also written an informative post on the subject here.