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Cloud Keyboard

Head in the Clouds?

In early May, Adobe announced that it was going to stop selling boxed versions of their design software and move completely over to Creative Cloud. This means that for design professionals and agencies who want to use the latest products from Adobe, who’s software is acknowledged as the most popular and widely used by far, you now must have a subscription and a good internet connection. Customers have been up in arms and so far an online petition has reached 9,000 signatures.

So what’s the story here? Looking at the broader picture , it is not a huge shock that this decision has been made. The internet has now taken over our lives, and more companies are incorporating cloud based systems into their infrastructure, which means that everything can be stored wirelessly and remotely. It is now a key area of functionality on Apple’s phones and tablets, and as another example, last year Sony purchased the Gaika cloud service for 380 million USD, as it looks to incorporate the technology in their next generation gaming devices.

As well as this, large companies are pushing subscription services more than ever to keep cash flow coming in as the economy has become ever more competitive. Businesses can no longer afford to invest huge amounts into products that will see an initial burst of profit only to drop off over time. In some areas we are acclimatising to this, as anyone with a Sky subscription will probably agree they no longer think too hard about the amount of monthly cost merely to watch televison programmes.

The issue with Adobe’s move seems to be two-fold. Firstly, in the eyes of the customer they are removing a choice, particularly with small business customers who may only have the budget to purchase or upgrade their software intermittently. Secondly, there are big questions over whether the infrastructure is actually ready for this service to work effectively.

The first issue is a valid one, and if you only upgrade your software every 3 or 4 years you are going to be out of pocket over time with the online subscription. Regular Adobe customers will however notice a saving. As already mentioned, companies will do all they can now to keep customers coming back onboard and increase the regular return on their investments. It is also a clear fact that any company will now do all it can to stamp out piracy. And a company that is not losing money to piracy should, in theory, be able to offer the benefits of a better product on to its customers. The benefits of Creative Cloud should be obvious. All subscribing customers have access to the latest and most innovative software packages which they can download freely as they become available, as well as using the cloud as a safe and secure storage point for their files, and also being able to access files across various media.

Which brings us onto the second issue. Are your broadband connections stable enough to cope with the transfer of extremely large software files, and can Adobe’s I.T. infrastructure cope with the demands of, in the main, design agencies who are reliant on this service for them to be able to run their studios? Well, not yet. As of a week after Adobe’s announcement, the file syncing part of the technology had been intermittently broken for a week, taking the ‘cloud’ part out of Creative Cloud. Adobe suspended this feature for a couple of weeks to make updates. 1-0 to the naysayers.

In conclusion, change can always be a painful thing and not embraced by the majority, but ultimately as the infrastructure improves, the benefits of this service will become a lot more clear. However, it could take up to a decade before this is clear enough for all consumers to decide to move away from physical products wholesale, and in the clamour for companies wanting to tie consumers into an online cloud subscription now, a more gradual process of evolution needs to be taken if they don’t want to alienate them in the long run.

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