Head in the Clouds – Adobe Officially Unveils New Creative Cloud

Today at Adobe MAX, an annual celebration of all things Adobe, the multimedia production company launched their vision of what a future Adobe landscape would look like:

First the press release:

LOS, ANGELES — May 6, 2013 At Adobe MAX, The Creativity Conference, Adobe (Nasdaq:ADBE) today accelerated its shift to the cloud with a major update toAdobe® Creative Cloud™, the company’s flagship offering for creatives.  Today’s update to Creative Cloud is packed with features, reimagining the creative process through a new set of “CC” desktop applications and enhanced cross-device collaboration and publishing capabilities (see separate press release).  With this update, creative files can be stored, synced and shared, via Creative Cloud, on Mac OS, Windows, iOS and Android; and Behance, the world’s leading online creative community, is integrated with Creative Cloud, so customers can showcase work, get feedback on projects and gain global exposure.

Creative Cloud’s advanced capabilities are making it a hit with the worldwide creative community: more than a half million paid members, and well over 2 million free members have signed up for Creative Cloud since it was launched in April 2012.

Adobe also announced that the company will focus creative software development efforts on its Creative Cloud offering moving forward.  While Adobe Creative Suite® 6 products will continue to be supported and available for purchase, the company has no plans for future releases of Creative Suite or other CS products. Focusing development on Creative Cloud will not only accelerate the rate at which Adobe can innovate but also broaden the type of innovation the company can offer the creative community.

“We launched Creative Cloud a year ago and it has been a runaway success,” said David Wadhwani, senior vice president and general manager, Digital Media, Adobe. “By focusing our energy — and our talented engineers — on Creative Cloud, we’re able to put innovation in our members’ hands at a much faster pace.”

On top of new collaboration and publishing services and the integration of Behance, today’s announced update to Creative Cloud includes stunning versions of Adobe’s next generation of desktop applications — including Adobe Photoshop® CCInDesign® CCIllustrator® CC,Dreamweaver® CC and Premiere® Pro CC.  Adobe’s desktop tools, previously known as Creative Suite (CS), are now branded CC to reflect that they are an integral part of Creative Cloud and have been reinvented to support a more intuitive, connected way of creating.

Adobe is facilitating the transition to Creative Cloud with attractive pricing plans and promotions for individual members, teams and enterprise customers.  For more details, visit: https://creative.adobe.com/plans.  Adobe will continue to sell licenses for all CS6 products via electronic download from adobe.com and participating resellers.

About Creative Cloud
Adobe Creative Cloud is a membership-based service that provides users with access to download and install Adobe creative desktop applications; game developer tools and integration with the Adobe Touch Apps. With Creative Cloud membership, users also have access to: a vibrant global creative community; publishing services to deliver apps and websites; cloud storage and the ability to sync to virtually any device; and new products and exclusive updates as they’re developed.

Membership Plans and Availability
By signing up for Creative Cloud today, creatives will be set up to immediately download and use these latest cloud-enabled innovations from Adobe, when they are available next month.  Creative Cloud membership for individuals is US$49.99 per month based on annual membership; existing customers who own CS3 to CS5.5 get their first year of Creative Cloud at the discounted rate of US $29.99 per month. Students and teachers can get Creative Cloud for $29.99 per month.  Promotional pricing is available for some customers, including CS6 users.

A team version of Creative Cloud includes everything individual members receive plus 100GB of storage and centralized deployment and administration capabilities. Creative Cloud for teams is priced at US $69.99 per month per seat. Existing customers, who own a volume license of CS3 or later, get their first year of Creative Cloud for teams at the discounted rate of US $39.99 per month per seat if they sign up before the end of August 2013.

Now for what this means to you…

I don’t want to dive too much into the nitty gritty of what specific features are coming in the new versions of Adobe Products (Which now have the moniker “CC” replacing the “CS”). That information is commonly available and although the new features are nice additions, they pale in comparison to the fundamental shifting philosophy that the new emphasis on Creative Cloud represents.

What Adobe is doing is building from the ground up a complete cloud based production solution from start to finish for creative professionals (Images, Video, Design & Web). As you may have already experienced, we’re moving away from the world of one creative – one computer. Now we carry our laptops on the field, working from tablets and smart phones…  an environment where we’re expected to seamlessly bounce around from device to device and collaborate effortlessly with fellow creatives.

This is the world that Adobe’s new push toward creative cloud is trying to serve. And Adobe is perhaps the only company that has the kind of vertical integration (especially with it’s practically ubiquitous and genre defining Photoshop) to make good on a promise of “everything you need in one place”. Buy a membership and you have everything you need – install what you need and never have to figure out when the update is going to ship. They’ll even support previous versions (starting with CS6) in case you have to work with a client that’s using an old version.

From Adobe’s perspective, the cloud service is a no-brainer. It captures the new generation of users for who it makes more sense to plunk down monthly payments rather than buying a full license. The cloud also enables Adobe to go into new international markets where there aren’t a lot of traditional distribution channels and software is sold mainly through gray markets. It also makes revenue streams more predictable and frees up engineers to release new updates to software when they’re ready rather than adhering to a rigid product cycle.

The cloud ideal is here and that kind of control can be kind of scary to hand over to just one company. Being entrenched to Adobe may make lazy in terms of upgrades. But if you remember the Final Cut X fiasco, creatives will, even painfully, abandon any software company that decides it knows best how things should be done. Unlike Apple, Adobe has been committed to having open APIs and encouraging developer communities to work with and enhance their products. We can only hope they maintain that commitment to the creative community.

Personally, I’m excited by what’s to come in this brave new world. This is about freeing the creative person from the tool – to open up the way we work. For video, Adobe Anywhere is starting to fulfill that promise (right now it’s mainly for enterprise scale video applications), with this Adobe Max announcement, they are committed to serving the rest of the design world with that vision.

Adobe is the only company that is in a position to do it. And they’re the only ones that can foul it up. As a long time Adobe user and fan, I hope it’s the former.