The Adobe transition to a subscription-based business model has been successful by many measures, although it doesn’t meet everyone’s needs. If you want Adobe software but you don’t want to pay a regular subscription fee, do you still have options? Depending on what you need, the answer is “maybe”…although as of 2017, the non-subscription options from Adobe are fewer than ever. (Update: As of 2019, nearly all Adobe professional software is now available only through a Creative Cloud subscription.)
(Updated April 7, 2014)
Want a non-subscription license for Photoshop or any other CS6 software? Better get it now.
As Adobe has continued to advance their transition from traditional perpetual licenses (pay once per major upgrade) to Adobe Creative Cloud subscriptions (monthly payment for more frequent enhancements), users who don’t want a subscription wonder how long they can continue to buy perpetual license versions of Adobe Creative Suite 6 software.
Adobe has previously stated that CS6 will be sold “indefinitely,” which in the short term means CS6 is still available, but in the long term that won’t mean forever. Somewhere between “indefinitely” and “forever” is an end date. While Adobe has not announced an exact end date, statements Adobe made in their Q1 FY2014 earnings conference call on March 18, 2014 indicate that “indefinitely” will soon mean “no” for channel sales outlets.
During the conference call, Mark Garrett, Adobe Executive Vice President and CFO, said “As a result of Creative Cloud success across teams and enterprises, we will soon end general availability of CS6 perpetual licensing in the channel. This decision is consistent with our comments last December when we stated we expected no material revenue from perpetual licensing of CS6 in the second half of fiscal 2014.” Mr. Garrett also said “Looking to the second half of the year, in the coming months we are planning a major launch of our Creative products and the removal of legacy CS6 products from the channel.” (The Adobe fiscal year ends on November 30.)
After this article was first published, an Adobe PR representative reached out to clarify that the above statements don’t affect direct sales to individuals or education, only software in the reseller channel. More details are in this official statement:
“Adobe will no longer sell Creative Suite 6 via the Cumulative Licensing Program (CLP) and Transactional Licensing Program (TLP). This change will be applicable across the commercial segment worldwide, as well as the government segment (with the exception of Japan); there is no change for education customers. Note that CS6 products will remain available for individual purchase via electronic download on Adobe.com, as well as via licensing for education customers. Acrobat and other Adobe products sold via CLP and TLP will remain available.”
Even though CS6 will continue to be sold to individuals and education, concerns may arise about how long that will continue to be true given that CS6 channel availability will already be limited later this year. For now, if you want to make an individual purchase of CS6 software, you can still find it at Amazon, Apple, and other direct (not channel) or educational sales outlets. On the Adobe website the page for buying CS6 software is not easy to find, so below is a direct link for the entire suite, individual products, full versions, and upgrade pricing.
(January 6, 2016: The link above no longer lists Photoshop CS6. You must now buy Photoshop CS6 at this page: http://www.adobe.com/products/cs6.html. For more information, see my more recent article: Can you buy Adobe software without a subscription?)
If you’re a Creative Cloud user, the last part of Mr. Garrett’s statement indicates that a “major launch of our Creative products” is in the cards for the second half of 2014, so that sounds like something to look forward to.
You can read the complete Adobe Q1 FY2014 Earnings Call Script (PDF) at the Adobe Investor Relations website. You can also read the transcripts of both the presentation and the Adobe Q&A session that followed, at Morningstar.
Among other tidbits from the conference call was Mr. Garrett’s news that “…Q1 reported Creative revenue from subscriptions and ETLAs [Enterprise Term License Agreements] exceeded reported revenue from perpetual licensing for the first time.”
It’s unclear to me whether the timeline for removing perpetual licenses from availability applies to Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. While Lightroom is included in Adobe Creative Cloud, it never used the Creative Suite 6 branding and is also still offered as a perpetual license. Adobe has not announced any plans to convert their entry-level Elements line to a subscription model, and if they consider Lightroom to be in the same general category they might decide to continue offering a perpetual-license version of Lightroom as an entry point to Adobe software. On that we’ll have to wait and see.