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Software is a multi-billion dollar industry but that doesn't mean it hasn't changed dramatically in the past several years. From the rise of the app store to software-as-a-service, how software is bought and sold has been evolving rapidly.
That creates both opportunity and challenges for software's biggest players.
Case in point: Adobe, which yesterday unveiled Creative Suite 6 (CS6).
Adobe's Creative Suite is must-have software for graphic and web designers, and CS6 brings to the table a number of new features in the latest versions of popular applications including Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. In Photoshop, for instance, there are Content-Aware features which are designed to make photo retouching easier than ever. And InDesign adds support for liquid layouts.
But the biggest change in CS6 isn't found in the applications themselves; it's found in how Adobe is offering the software. Want to purchase the software outright? You can shell out for CS6 the same way you bought earlier versions of Creative Suite. But for the first time, Adobe is also offering Creative Suite in a software-as-a-service package Adobe calls Creative Cloud.
With a one-year commitment, Creative Cloud customers can access every application in the CS6 suite for $49.99 per month. Those preferring to pay on a month-to-month basis can purchase a $74.99/month subscription. In addition to access to the CS6 applications, Adobe is also bundling file sharing, collaboration, community and publishing tools into Creative Cloud in an attempt to turn it into a sort of "digital hub" for creatives.
Will those added 'cloud' features be enough to convince for-sure CS6 buyers to purchase a Creative Cloud subscription instead of software-in-a-box? In other words, will Adobe be able to shift traditional CS6 demand to Creative Cloud demand? Maybe, but maybe not. Instead, it would appear that what Creative Cloud may be more likely to do is give those who can't or won't shell out $1,000-plus for software an opportunity to pay for that software over time with an option to quit if they no longer need it.