I just read a very interesting open letter, penned by Scott Kelby, the president of The National Association of Photoshop Professionals. That's an organization of some 70,000 professionals using Adobe’s flagship Photoshop products, the software used to prep a great number of the photos and graphics used on Websites worldwide.
According to Mr. Kelby’s letter, Adobe is engaging in the practice of cutting its nose off to spite its face (my words, not his).
Now, I’ve always been of the opinion that Adobe produces little but overpriced, overhyped software that, in many cases, should still be in alpha or early beta when released to the public. That usually happens in the form of a major version upgrade, nearly always filled with enough holes and bugs to insure the livelihood of software pros and security vendors worldwide.
It has long been the practice of professionals to evaluate each version of any software product for features and benefits that appeal to them, that justify the expense and retraining involved in any version upgrade. And it has long been the practice of the publishers of software these professional rely on to acknowledge this in their upgrade cycles -- offering discounts to anyone owning any previous version, or the last several versions. It’s a business model that makes sense and works.
Mr. Kelby’s letter states:
It’s my understanding that when the next version of Photoshop and the Creative Suite is released, if you do not already own Photoshop version CS5 orCS5.5 (or the 5 or 5.5 Creative Suite):
(a) You will not be eligible to upgrade to Photoshop CS6 (or the CS6 Creative Suite). Instead the only way to get Photoshop CS6 at that point will be to repurchase the entire product again at its full price (presumably $699 US). If you’re a CS4 Creative Suite User, you’ll have to buy the entire suite all over again to move to CS6.
(b)For Photoshop CS4, or CS3 users, their only real option is to pay to upgrade now to CS5.5 (though you are offering a 20% upgrade discount upgrade until the end of the year), and then to pay again to upgrade when Photoshop CS6 is released, or sign up for your new monthly subscription plan.
Nose, meet knife. Face, prepare for scorn and ridicule, and the terrified cries of small children.
If Adobe goes forward with this plan, it will, in my opinion, be one of the most blatantly stupid things championed by a company in recent memory. And I can only assume that it feels its product is so dominant, so necessary, that professionals will have no choice but to acquiesce.
There are viable alternatives to Photoshop. In fact, there are viable alternatives to virtually everything Adobe makes. And, these alternatives are virtually always a fraction of the cost of the Adobe equivalent, if not free.
For example, GNU Image Manipulation Program, better known as GIMP, is an open-source, free alternative to Photoshop. It’s powerful (and free); uses fewer system resources (and free); will use most Photoshop plugins (free); and is available for all the major and many of the minor operating system platforms. And it’s free -- just download and install away.
Corel’s Paint Shop Pro (formerly Jasc) has a strong following, uses Photoshop plugins, and currently is less than $50. Corel’s entire Graphics Suite, which includes some very nice products, is a little over half the price that Adobe charges just for Photoshop, and it includes all kinds of goodies for Website publishers that Adobe charges even more for.
Indeed, this situation may be all that these other platforms need to become dominant -- they’re just a few influential users away from acceptance, and acceptance leads to dominance.
We’ve seen it before. And, we’ll see it again. The question is: Will we see it here, or will Adobe come to its senses?
[Editor's note: We have contacted Adobe for comment on Scott Kelby's letter and on this blog's assertions. The company was closed for the holiday at press time.]
— John Myers is manager of technologies at the Knoxville Zoo as well as the owner of several technology-related companies.