Thoughts On Adobe's Press Conference

Posted on by Larry

This afternoon as part of the 2013 Adobe MAX, Adobe held a press conference featuring Adobe CEO Shatanu Narayen and Adobe SVP and General Manager of Digital Media David Wadhwani.

There was a lot of discussion of print media, business plans, web design and other cool stuff, but off-topic as far as I was concerned. So, here are the highlights, in no particular order, on what they discussed that was relevant to audio and video media creators.

First, it is important to note that, although Adobe has not made a big point of this, using the Cloud does not require that media or documents be stored on the Cloud. All Adobe applications are downloaded to your system and run locally. If you are concerned about security, media and projects can be stored locally. You, the user, need to make a conscious decision to store media and projects on The Cloud, it does not happen automatically.

Adobe MAX has 5,000 attendees from 50 countries, with 50% of the attendees describing themselves as designers.


Question: Why did Adobe move so aggressively into The Cloud?

Answer: Mr. Narayen explained Adobe’s strategy as:

It is Adobe’s expectation that in the near future, all computers will be connected everywhere with high-speed Internet connections.

Mr. Narayen used these key words multiple times in describing the process: Adobe wants to help creators “Make, Manage, Monetize, and Deliver” creative media products.

Adobe views its key market segments as:


I couldn’t sit still any longer, so I asked: “Today’s keynote focused on web and print creation, which are undoubtedly important. Why was there no mention of video (with the exception of an After Effects demo), audio, “Adobe Anywhere,” or the impracticality of storing media in 20GB of Cloud storage?”

David responded by saying that there just wasn’t time to cover everything in the morning keynote. Premiere Pro won Best of Show at the 2013 NAB Show and Adobe Anywhere, using The Cloud for media production, is central to many, but not all, of the Adobe applications.

NOTE: I have a meeting later today with Bill Roberts, Director of Audio/Video Product Management for Adobe, so I’ll post results of that conversation in another blog.

Regarding Adobe Anywhere, Adobe wants to start this with larger media companies, then move it into the broad market. For them, it is an issue of timing. It will be added to Creative Cloud applications in the future.


Adobe will offer to all Creative Cloud subscribers a license that allows installation on two computers, PLUS the ability to download any or all of the CS6 versions of their software. This is specifically designed to allow Cloud subscribers to work with designers that haven’t upgraded to the new system.

So, this means that you can have BOTH CC and CS6 applications installed on up to two systems at the same time and easily switch between them.

Remember, all CC applications are stored and run locally, they are only downloaded from the web.


A key insight happened near the end of the 35-minute press conference. Mr. Narayen was asked if Adobe has plans to open the Cloud distribution model to other developers, similar to the Mac App Store?

He replied that Adobe has plans to offer additional applications, as well as allow developers to deliver products that add value to Creative Cloud applications using Adobe’s Creative Cloud.


Two things I’ve also learned, that weren’t covered at the press conference:

I’m off to cruise the trade show floor. I’ll have another report after my meetings later today.

As always, your thoughts and comments are appreciated.


20 Responses to Thoughts On Adobe's Press Conference

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  1. Seth says:

    Two words for Adobe: Bye-bye. I have used PS since version 2.5 and have routinely upgraded it thru CS5. I’m a hobbyist user; I do some large format printing to a Canon IPF series thru the Photoshop plugin. Fortunately that plugin also works in Canon’s own Digital Photo Pro software. 8-bit Elements doesn’t really cut it for me. I’ll find a CS6 upgrade somewhere and that’ll be the end of the line. What use will Photoshop files be a few years down the road when I want to reprint something and I’m not subscribed and can’t open the document? Maybe Elements would be of some use, maybe not. I want to own my software, thanks very much.

  2. Claes J says:

    Not a surprise. Adobe has indicated for a long time that this is where they wanted to go. And why not from their perspective? They are now guaranteed $50 (or more) each month from their users. No more skipping a version (or 2) to save some money and also because Adobe just didn’t add anything compelling to their (bloated) software. I was just fine with their 18-24 month upgrade cycle several years ago.

    And I know plenty of designers who generally work a version or 2 behind on Adobe apps. For lots of bread and butter work, you just don’t need the bleeding edge…

    Will I join the fray and move to their subscription model? As a pro I don’t really have a choice, it’s just a matter of timing. And I will wait a few months. The only silver lining is that I will get access to all the Adobe creative apps, not just the ones they deigned to include in whatever CS package I bought (and yes, the Master Collection was outrageously expensive for some apps that I’d use once in a blue moon).

    Will this be enough to bring about real alternatives to Adobe’s products (I’m talking about Photoshop and Illustrator)? We can hope so, but I’m not holding my breath.

    So the cat is out of the bag. Now we will have to see what happens when it lands.

  3. Ken Berger says:

    Adobe is the perfect example of what happens with there is not competition in a market segment.
    1st they leveraged a great product (photoshop) into a package killing off may of their competitors Adobe – Creative Suite replaced >Freehand, Quark Xpress, Pagemaker, and many more. Then they stopped realy developing most of their products in the suite Illustrator, and Indesign and Dreamweaver have barely kept up in terms of usability under growing feature bloat. And now they want to tax you for using them even though they are not fixing the real problems of bad interface (windows Next hybrid)

  4. fernando says:

    I agree with Lindsay and Craig. As a small independent producer, I am totally in favor of ownership and oppose not being given an option at least. CC is an excellent move for large/ corporate clients with deep pockets but abysmal for everyone else. All the mid size or small businesses, who truly can’t afford CC, will be at the teet of Adobe. CC is in it’s initial offering, what happens when Adobe unilaterally, because it’s their product, decides to raise the monthly charge? What about the users who are unfamiliar with the software? Imaging the bill users will incur during their learning curve. I would rather own software with periodic updates to learn at my leisure as opposed to feel like I’m on the clock all the time. Another bill? That’s just what I needed. I suppose the only way to truly show my displeasure is to not purchase CC no matter what new features Adobe dangles in front of me. The boycott is officially on. For now I’ll stick with my boxed CS6.

  5. Salatori says:

    I hoped against all odds this won’t happen but it did. Looks like Photoshop CS6 will be the very last Adobe product I will own and I just upgraded a month ago! I work as a pro photographer that uses a lot of photoshop but I don’t need to update everytime Adobe releases a new version. It is just no cost effective for the little guy like me. Before my CS6 upgrade I used CS4 for a couple of years. Great for big corporations but not so good for individuals and small businesses.

  6. Bill says:

    Once again, a greedy company doing what’s best for them and not their customers. If they would have priced their software reasonably in the first place they wouldn’t have such wide-spread piracy… and wouldn’t have to resort to this subscription based garbage. I hope it fails miserably.

  7. Claes J says:


    Maybe comments are trending negative to Adobe’s subscription model because Adobe for years has made no secret of wanting to get more revenue from their users. Every survey they have sent me for at least the last 5 years was focused on subscription and finding out what the threshold of pain was for the cost of said subscription.

    Even in their announcement now, they make it clear that this move is about stabilizing their revenue. In short, Adobe doesn’t want me to just pay $600 to upgrade every other version. They want to force me to pay $600 every year.

  8. Andrzej says:

    Question: Why did Adobe move so aggressively into The Cloud?

    Answer: real Adobe’s strategy as:

    First, as a canvas for their engineers to innovate more rapidly, then bring those innovations to customers.

    Real answer: we have no new ideas to motivate users to upgrade, so we need to trap their credit cards

    Second, to attract the next generation of creators that don’t have experience in buying and upgrading software. A cloud-based installation process is both fast and easy.

    Real answer: if you belive in “our” answer you are simply stupid. Is it really so hard to buy and upgrade software? We’ve been doing it for 20+ years. Do you think that “next generation of creators” will be stupid and unable to buy and upgrade?

    Third, subscription revenue makes the business more predictable by smoothing cash flow.

    Real answer: There were no reasons to upgrade CS each year. So first we had “only one version back” promotion, and now, well… give us your credit card number.

    Fourth, because distribution is via the Cloud, the needs of different countries can be more easily reflected into different products.

    Real answer: we don’t have any good reasons, so we had to put there something really stupid.

    And after all, there are still many unsolved bugs in our software, and we don’t know how to solve them.

    • Larry says:


      I am not this cynical, but posted your comments anyway. However, I do agree with you that the burden is on Adobe to provide a compelling case on how users benefit from this new system.


  9. Creative Cloud might not be the best option for those who only use a single program, or for those who only occasionally use Adobe software. I don’t know how much Adobe really considered these users when they developed their new pricing and distribution method, and I completely understand the frustration I have been hearing from those two camps.

    However, despite simple math showing Creative Cloud to be more cost-effective over a 3-year span than purchasing the software outright, I’ve read reports from a number of people and production houses who say Adobe has now given them an unsustainable business model. This makes no sense. If this software is cheaper, able to be more easily and frequently updated with bug fixes and new features, not to mention the other benefits afforded to Creative Cloud members –what is the problem? $30-$50 a month is not a lot to pay to have regular use of some of the world’s best creativity software (Photoshop has become a verb…), especially for those who use the software to earn a living –many of whom will earn the equivalent of that monthly payment in a single hour of work.

    How much does the average American spend on their cell phone bill? On their cable TV bill? How much on junk food? Even for those who don’t use Adobe software to earn a living, Creative Cloud is quite manageable. Those who cannot afford the monthly payment would have had an equally difficult time buying Adobe software before, at hundreds of dollars per program and thousands for entire suites.

    In the end, it is what it is. Adobe doesn’t owe us anything, and it doesn’t exist to make each and every one of us happy. And if we’re not happy, we can buy our products from someone else. It might be stressful, but it’s not the end of the world. The sky is not falling.

    There are bigger and more important things happening in the world to get fired up about.

  10. Craig says:

    Although expressed cynically, I think Andrzej touches on some “truths.”

    Adobe was faced with a few business problems. Uneven revenue with a peak during release followed by a decline. A large user base that was skipping one or more upgrades. Fragmented markets in which users would pick one or another tools, some not upgraded regularly.

    The problem may be that as the programs matured, the upgrade features only hit some niches. If a new feature is needed by only 20% of their market, that leaves a lot of users skipping upgrades. All this hurt cash flow and R&D. It meant they had to weigh priority between a potentially broadly useful feature vs a “high end” feature that would only motivate a niche to upgrade. In addition some of those features might require newer hardware so if the customer has to consider that purchase as well and may decide to hold off.

    The CC ensures Adobe gets steady cash flow and that money happens whether or not a user upgrades. Those who upgrade regularly (software and even hardware) benefit from CC. Those a bit more irregular but use at least two apps may suffer the additional expense (paying even if they have no need for the upgrade). What Adobe loses are those who are most likely to skip upgrades or use their products secondarily. This is the least profitable group.

    I think there’s a very large base of “part time” users, those who might buy and maintain Photoshop or After Effects or InDesign for a few years running before upgrading. That’s probably a big portion of the unhappy response.

    Ultimately this is good for Adobe and not as good for those who are not day to day users who keep up with their upgrades.

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