This editorial was originally printed in Issue 3 of the WalterBiscardi.com newsletter.
It's been a few weeks since the announcement from Adobe that henceforth all new software will only be available via the Creative Cloud subscription service. No doubt you've seen and heard the outcry from folks who want to continue to "own the software."
As my good buddy Aharon Rabinowitz said so eloquently in his blog
, "YOU DO NOT, NOR EVER HAVE, OWNED YOUR ADOBE SOFTWARE. You have licensed it."
Yes it's all semantics since you DID have a box with software in it, or you downloaded software which you backed up and kept somewhere in your files. As long as you have the serial number, you can launch that software at will. But you never actually "owned the software."
There's definitely the comfort factor of "holding the box" and knowing that the software is there ready to be used at any given time. But what good is that box when the software turns obsolete because the current OS will no longer support it? At that point you have two choices; keep running an older computer system so you can keep using that software or you upgrade so you can run the software on the latest and greatest systems. I don't know about you, but I tend to upgrade my computers at least every three years and running old software on a new computer kind of defeats the purpose.
The subscription model actually makes very good sense for the software industry. The biggest thing is that the industry is no longer driven by the need to keep holding back "key new features" until select times of the year to coincide with events like IBC and NAB. Think about how many times we start speculating in January or July about "I really hope Adobe / Avid / Apple / Autodesk releases these new features I really want at NAB / IBC!" And then the companies keep telling us to "hold tight until NAB/IBC to see what's new." With the subscription based model, it behooves the software company to continuously roll out new features to keep the subscriber base happy and feeling like they're getting their money's worth. I very much like this idea of constant evolution instead of arbitrarily holding stuff back to have a fatter press release at a convention.
Look whether you like the Adobe model or not, you better believe it's coming to all software eventually. It makes sense both economically and from a distribution standpoint. Steady income for the company over the year and distribute new features on the fly. It's not a question of "if" the other software manufacturers will go subscription, but "when."
If there's one lesson the others can learn from Adobe is to make sure to give a 'one year warning' as in "this will be the final year to purchase a license, after that, it's all subscription." To just come out and say "As of today, it's all subscription" was a bit of a dick move by Adobe, but with the success of the Cloud over the first year, the writing on the wall was pretty obvious to most folks.
So love it or hate it, I would not be surprised to see a subscription based model for all our software within the next 5 years.