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Adobe killing Photoshop boxed copies

So the other shoe has dropped. Adobe have just announced that they won't be selling boxed copies of their creative suite products any more. That includes Photoshop, Premiere Pro, Illustrator, InDesign and so on. This is because they want you to use their new purchasing model, the Creative Cloud, which was launched less than a year ago. With Creative Cloud you can buy either the entire Creative Suite for £47/month or a single application for £17.49/month. Some reports are saying that Adobe have reduced the price for a single app from $20/month to $10/month but I'm not seeing any UK prices yet. Presumably they'll also drop UK prices by 50% as well making it somewhere around £9/month.

Based on the currently advertised £17.49 price you'd pay £630 over the next 3 years, which is about how often most people seem to upgrade. Under the old model you'd pay about £200 for an upgrade if you already owned a full copy of Photoshop. If Adobe do halve the single app price that'll be £315 over 3 years - still way more than the old upgrade price. And if you want more than one application from the creative suite there's no option for you besides buying everything.

[Update: the 50% off thing looks like being a limited time for existing owners that lasts just for the first year]

So what are the pros and cons of this change? Well first of all, once you get on board with the new scheme you'll have to keep paying every month forever because when you stop paying the software stops working. Not so good for those people who only use Photoshop occasionally. But on the upside you get all upgrades as soon as they're released. And as we know every version of Photoshop has included *must have* improvements that we could never live without. Right? In fact, doesn't a subscription model like this remove any incentive for Adobe to develop Photoshop at all? Right now they have to come up with new headline features to tempt people to upgrade every 3 years. But once they're collecting your cash every month - why bother?

I'm a Photoshop trainer so I talk to a lot of Photoshop users. I'd guess that about 50% of the people I talk to are using a pirated copy. Why is that? Because they feel that have to have it but they can't afford it. I answer endless questions from people about ways to get a discount like using the student version. It's clear to me that Photoshop is already way over priced. Quite out of reach of most amateur photographers. And it's also clear that with the rise of Lightroom and other, quicker processing tools Photoshop is being used less and less. So when does the price and the usefulness equation stop people wanting Photoshop at all? I'm guessing right about now - the same moment that Adobe forces everyone onto a software rental model. Adobe is killing its own sacred cow.

The most damaging thing for Adobe, I think, is discussions like this one that remind people they don't actually need Photoshop. There are lots of other, cheaper tools on the market these days that can replace Photoshop for the few remaining things we do with it. Corel's Paintshop Pro is a pretty good facsimile of Photoshop and it's got 16-bit colour support, which is the feature Photoshop Elements lacks that prevents me using it. OnOne Software's Perfect Photo Suite offers a lot of creative options including layers and it integrates with Lightroom beautifully. And there are a ton of other very affordable products coming onto the market that do one or two things really well, like SnapHeal which replicates Photoshop's spot healing and content aware features plus more. 

If you're looking at this situation and wondering what to do now I would recommend waiting. It's not clear what the future holds for Lightroom. Lightroom 5 beta just became available but I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to buy it without a Creative Cloud subscription. I'll try and find out. As for Photoshop - I'm really not sure I'll bother teaching it any more. I don't want to rent it. Not at these prices. And I'm not at all convinced there'll be much demand for Photoshop courses in the future.

[Update: Although Lightroom 5 has been included in the creative suite in the past it will continue to be available separately as a one-time purchase outside the creative cloud]

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The 7 stages of Nik/Google grief

Nik software's heads must be spinning right now wondering what hit them. One moment they're on an all time high because Google just bought their company and the next the internet is filled with photographers all clearly somewhere in the 7 stages of grief about it. Check out the comments on Nik's announcement post: http://education.niksoftware.com/2012/09/17/google-acquires-nik-software/. Here are a few highlights from their comments and from Twitter:

1. Shock and denial

Comment on Nik's post: This is terrifying. You make the best plug-ins in the business. I am scared.

2. Pain and guilt

Comment on Nik's post: You just ruined my day. Sorry to see this happen to a good product line :-(

3. Anger and bargaining

Comment on Nik's post: It would be helpful to have a statement from you or Google or GooNik or Nikoogle as to what this means for your products.

4. Depression, reflection, loneliness

Comment on Nik's post: I guess this is the beginning of the end, after 12 years of using your plug-ins, probably time to move on.

5. The upward turn

Comment on Nik's post: I was planning on upgrading my complete collection, but I’m glad I haven’t done so yet. Time to look for a replacement.

6. Reconstruction and working through

Comment on Nik's post: Oh well. Snapseed was great while it lasted. Time to find an alternative app I guess.

7. Acceptance and hope

On Twitter @chrismarquardt: I see it as an opportunity to do more education around how to get great b/w conversions without the help of NIK

Ok so that's all very entertaining but seriously, should we be worried? Well I'd say yes - worried. But not necessarily in despair, yet. So far we've not seen a response from Google or Nik describing what will happen to Nik's existing product line. All we have to go on is Google's previous track record. Sadly that  hasn't been so good. The recent google acquisition, Sparrow, immediately ceased development. And before that Picnik, the web based photo editing software - was also closed down. Certainly the future looks very bleak for Nik's IOS products.

No doubt we'll see improved photo editing tools in Google's own products like Android and Google+ but what about Nik's existing product line? At the very least it seems likely that talent within Nik will be at least partially distracted into Google products. It seems like Google likes to acquire companies for the talent rather than the products. If that's the case here I believe it'll be the end of the very best plug-in products on the market - products I use very regularly. But perhaps part of the deal with Google is that the Nik plugins will go on. Or perhaps I'm just in stage 1 myself.

Those of you looking for good alternatives should look at Topaz Labs and OnOne Software. This is a huge opportunity for those guys and if they're smart they'll think about offering discounts or cross-grade deals.

[The attached picture, by the way, is one of my old black and whites which I just recently re-processed from the original RAW using Silver Efex Pro and got a very pleasing result in a fraction of the time it originally took me with Photoshop]

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Get Snapseed Free!

As part of Apple’s 72hr App Store on Facebook free app program, Nik Software announced that it will be giving Snapseed away for free for just 72 hours beginning at 12:00 p.m. PST on September 20, 2011 through 12:00 p.m. PST on September 23, 2011.

I reviewed Snapseed on PhotoWalkthrough a few weeks ago. Snapseed normally sells for $4.99 and is worth every penny.

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Yogile makes collaborative photo collections easy

A new free photo sharing site just launched that makes it easy to share photos and make a collection with multiple contributors. It's called Yogile and it isn't just another Flickr or PhotoBucket. Signing up is a doddle and you'll automatically make your first collection. All you have to do next is hand out the simple URL or email address for your collection and your family and friends can upload photos too without even having to sign up.

So if you've had a wedding lately Yogile is a great way to collect pictures from all your guests. Just send everyone the URL or email address of your collection and everyone can upload their best pictures to your shared collection without even needing to sign up. There's a 100Mb/month upload limit and you can add a password if you want to keep things exclusive. The opportunities for collaborative collections is huge. Imagine collecting all the pictures from your latest photo walk, training course or family holiday.

You can try it out at www.yogile.com or have a play with the PhotoWalkthrough collection at www.yogile.com/ort250u.

Overall I like Yogile very much. Anyone who's tried to make a collection in Flickr and then get people to add their pictures will know how difficult that can be. Yogile makes everything much easier and there's even a handy slideshow view so you can sit back and enjoy everyones shots. There are a couple of features I'd like to see like a "download all" button, the ability to re-order the pictures and possibly even the ability to select a few shots in a collection and make them into a new collection. But as a brand new service I think Yogile gets the core features right and I look forward to seeing where they take it next.

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UK Photographers' rights are at risk

If you're a british photographer of any kind (amateur or professional) you should be aware of the new Digital Economy Bill which effectively removes your automatic copyright on images you create. It will open the doors to wholesale theft of formerly copyright images through the orphan works provisions and what's worse much of the bill covering descriptions of "orphan work" or "adequate search" are not even included.

At the same time, and in a completely unrelated piece of legislation the Information Commissioner's Office is proposing changes to the Data protection Act that will make non-consentual photography of people in a public place illegal. Rather than re-hash what's already been well reported elsewhere I suggest you check some of the links included below.

Both of these issues will be implemented in a matter of only a few weeks so NOW is the time to take action. I urge all british readers to write to your MPs letting them know how you feel. Writing to your MP is really easy - check out www.theyworkforyou.com for a very simple and effective browser based way to contact them. More information on both issues is available at Copyright Action along with templates for letters to your MP and links to comment on the ICO changes. There's also a very well written article on the subject on the Online Journalism Blog and you can see the British Photographic Society's response the the Digital Economy Bill also.

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