Scott Kelby Speaks Out About Adobe Photoshop’s Upgrade Policy Change

Last week we reported that starting with Adobe CS6, only people who own the previous major release of the software (i.e. CS5 and above) will be eligible for upgrade pricing. Needless to say, Photoshop users are’t too happy about the changes, and now National Association of Photoshop Professionals president Scott Kelby is weighing in. In an open letter to Adobe, he writes,

While I understand that Adobe needs to make business decisions based on how it sees market conditions, I feel the timing of this new pricing structure is patently unfair to your customers (and our members). Here’s why: You didn’t tell us up front. You didn’t tell us until nearly the end of the product’s life cycle, and now you’re making us buy CS5.5 for just a few months on the chance that we might want to buy CS6 at a discount when it’s released. Otherwise, we have to pay the full price as if we were never Adobe customers at all.

Kelby also makes a plea for Adobe to either start the new policy with CS7 or to offer a tiered upgrade structure in which upgrade price is based on how recent your version is. That definitely makes more sense than having CS4 users pay full price to upgrade to CS6.

An Open Letter To Adobe Systems [Scott Kelby]

  • drrjv

    Buy Pixelmator or Acorn. Adobe is ridiculous with pricing. The days of $2000 software is over.

  • Scott K

    If you don’t like it, don’t stay with the company’s products! Buy some other company’s product and support them. Are you going to Occupy Adobe? You can copy this letter and send it out to a whole lot of companies now-a-days not just Adobe.

  • Anonymous

    I love those who use or don’t use their products charge too much for the results (ie; pictures and video) to their customers. OK for them to make money but gawd forbid they have to pay more than they want for the tools to do so. 

  • Flgraphics

    well said by Mr. Kelby.

    it’s a dumb policy by Adobe.  I love their software and have a licensed copy of CS5 which I paid full price for. it’s stupid that I won’t be able to purchase all the upgrades I want to the current version after I already forked out for a full version in the first place

  • Anonymous

    Not sure what you’re talking about, buying CS5 will allow you to upgrade to CS6 as an upgrade, not full version. And then with CS6, you’ll be able to get CS7. 

  • James Cantu

    I’m pretty sure your covered:

    “we are changing our policy for perpetual license customers. In order to qualify for upgrade pricing when CS6 releases, customers will need to be on the latest version of our software (either CS5 or CS5.5 editions). If our customers are not yet on those versions, we’re offering a 20% discount through December 31, 2011 which will qualify them for upgrade pricing when we release CS6.”

  • Mike

    So hold on here. The issue is people are complaining that they have to spend $699 (with 30% discount atm) on a product. That is an essential tool to their trade. Name me any photographer that would have an issue spending that much on a lens (cause that would be a cheap lens) or maybe on the cost of transport to get to photo shoots, or on the latest PC (cause this years model is 10% faster).
    It’s a business expense, write it off and pay less in tax! Or like everyone else has said, if you don’t like it then don’t buy it.

  • Robert Kenney

    Naturally Mr Kelby built his business on selling support and training for users of Adobe products, so he has a vested interest in seeing most people upgrade and continue to use Photoshop. He profits when people upgrade to the latest version, and turn to his firm for training. His point is valid, but his motivation is financial. I found it a bit dubious when he failed to disclose that relevant fact in his open letter. 

  • macjim

    well, if this happened with Lightroom 4, I’d buy Apples Aperture and move to them instead!

  • Dave

    We have been happy to give Adobe tons of money for years. A simple mind would miss this. The game has changed because now Adobe has adopted a forced upgrade policy where they are now strong-arming their loyal customers into giving them even more money than they already have in the past, which at this point they should be able to use as toilet paper. But that just isn’t enough. After putting their kids through college and getting them that Benz they needed I am finally at a point where I think supporting anther company in hopes that they can develop a competing product, or folding to the pirates is actually an option. Your welcome Adobe.

  • Paul Tobeck

    While I agree with Scott’s letter, it doesn’t affect me. I broke the superficial upgrade path of full-boat Photoshop years ago and now use a Lightroom/Elements combination. Unless you’re completely deconstructing photographs, Elements will do do 99% of what a straight up photographer needs and Lightroom blows away everything else when it comes to RAW files and management. The two combined are less than half the price of PS (minus my 2 cents).  

  • C.K.

    And what happens when Adobe – who owns Elements & Lightroom – does the same to those products?

  • C.K.

    I don’t like the policy, but that’s just a business looking to drum up revenue. If enough people dislike it enough and vote with their wallet, they’ll swing things back to center. Could be a good opportunity to check out the competition (but is there any?)

  • Jamestormiston

    For the photography, Aperture 3 and Pixelmator could do but for wveryrging else, non sadly!

  • Jamestormiston

    Ahem… Everything else, not wveryrging!

  • Anonymous

    When you whine about someone else being able to buy someone you can’t. You just need to shut-up and work harder. If you can do your trade w/o their products, GO DO IT. If not, make sure you think about pricing when you are charging your customer for your product AND remember they could be a harder worker as not have much money as you do. 

    If you think you can do better, invent something and put it off there at no profit for your blood, sweat and tears. 

  • Photographer Aspen CO

    I’ve been upgrading every other version for years.  I usually don’t see enough of a change in photoshop every version to pay for an upgrade even at the discounted price.  Not sure what I’ll do now.  I do have ps5, but wasn’t planning on upgrading until ps7.

  • Dave

    English please.

  • Mario

    I don’t see Adobe applying this new strategy to Elements and LR, which cost substantially less than CSx and are marketed more to entry and hobbyist level photographers. It’s not uncommon to find full versions of LR on sale for less than $150 (there was a recent offer for $99) and Elements has been running at $50 on sale recently as well. There are also competitors to both, although the Adobe products are better, IMO. This may be Adobe’s Netflix moment. Time will tell.

  • Anonymous

    This wouldn’t be a problem if their pricing scheme wasn’t so out of control.  To upgrade from CS3 to the new CS 5 design standard is $1,000 (with 30% off).  I can’t afford to give adobe a grand every year.  This is extortion!  They will de-facto break my version of Photoshop and Illustrator and force me to upgrade at a huge expense to get a few new tools that I will barely use. I’m sure by CS6, there won’t be an option to save down to older versions of Illustrator anymore.  Their monopoly needs to be broken up.

  • shamb

    I was forced to use PS 7 (came out about 10 years ago!) on an old machine a few weeks ago, and it could do everything I wanted it to wrt photo editing (and actually ran surprisingly quickly as most of the recent bloatware is not there!).

    There’s really not that much newer versions give, except incremental productivity, so may people are missing out every other version, and I think this is what Adobe is trying to prevent. Wrong way to go about it though.

  • webpaws

    I agree with Scott. Adobe should give their customers time to make the switch in policy. As any other business owner, I must budget for purchases and would appreciate if Adobe would go along with Scott’s suggestion. This is especially true in this economy! We have used Adobe products for years and feel that our loyalty is worth something. Adobe give us a break… it’s a win-win. Thank you.

  • Jiggs

    There will just be more people using bootleg copies, so in the long run less money to Adobe.

  • Yyc

    The continuous upgrade or full price software model is standard practice in the 3D CAD world.  Corporations grudgingly annually upgrade to keep up with everyone else for a common platform and becoming the number 1 complaint in corporate CAD IT management: institutional blackmail.  Smaller companies almost all just stop upgrading until it makes real technological sense, often about 5-6 years.  And one heck of alot of piracy by others.

  • Spb

    This policy really sucks. I work as a Photoshop trainer and I’ve made my money for the last 15 years with this software, so I have to keep up to date with each release version.  My problem with this is that since about the CS release cycles the amount of features you get with each upgrade gets less and less – If it wasn’t for the fact I need to keep up to date I certainly wouldn’t want to buy each upgrade.

    For example, CS5 looked good on paper but most of it was just the simple JDI stuff that they should fix for free. And of the new features like Content Aware tools and Puppet Warp ? – most are often proved to be under performing and sometimes plainly useless (like the implentation of 3D tools).If Adobe have been looking at their spreadsheets and trying to figure why customers skip a version or two, I think they have missed the point. Give us something worthwhile upgrading for and maybe people will buy the software.

  • Fierroj

    Fork out or shut up…. That is not the way to make customers or keep existing ones… And when people not associated with Adobe say this, it proves that we have gotten to a point in society where corporations are idolized and favored over common sense…. I am not upgrading… There are other option out there….

  • Fierroj

    I forgot to mention that perhaps now that Flash is its way out, Adobe needed to find a way to keep money flowing their way….

  • ErnieB

    This policy–announced near the end-of-life of CS5/5.5 with CS due out in a few months–is atrocious. I’ve been a loyal Photoshop user since 1993, and have purchased every incremental upgrade since PS3, with the exception of CS3 (leapt from CS2 to CS4). Likewise, I was planning to upgrade to CS6 when it comes out. Mine is a small business. and each purchase has to be weighed and justified. Now I have to fork over the upgrade price for CS5 just so I can purchase CS6…which will in turn force purchase of CS7. Bah Humbug, especially this time of year.

  • WLH

    I’m currently using CS4 and was planning on waiting to upgrade when CS6 is released. Right now I am pretty sure that I am no longer going to be a Photoshop customer.    

  • Anonymous

    My husband and I are just serious hobby users but have been using Photoshop for yonks years and then began purchasing the CS suites once they came out.  After coming across Scott’s open letter we decided last week to upgrade from CS4 to CS5.5.  We dropped back from Design Premium to Design Standard because we are no longer interested in Flash or Dreamweaver.  Well it just arrived and I hadn’t realised it came with Photoshop CS5 rather than Photoshop CS5 Extended.  I just had a live chat with Adobe who told me that the only way for us to get PS Extended is to return Design Standard and purchase Design Premium (and without the 20% discount there was last week, of course).  I said we downgraded because we no longer want Flash or Dreamweaver and the person said there is no other way to upgrade to PS Extended and then they just left the chat.

    I agree with a lot of the others.  We have been LOYAL Adobe fans for years and used to think they were a terrific company.  Even though their software was expensive, it was a pleasure to use and they were such a great company that we were almost glad to hand over the money just to support them.  Sadly this is no longer the case.  We find ourselves cursing at the software these days because it is continually hanging and giving errors.  When we speak with Adobe they are cavalier and snotty.  No thanks.  I resent putting my hands in my wallet to be treated like that.  No more.  It’s a shame really. Another formerly great customer focused company joins the ranks of the lowest common denominator.

  • Don

    I don’t like the upgrade policy any more than anyone else, but you made an interesting comment when you said that you were being forced to ‘upgrade at a huge expense to get a few new tools I will barely use’. I would think that the solution to this would be to NOT upgrade since you won’t be using any of the new tools to any great degree.  Then when a substantial upgrade comes along again you could consider paying the price then.  I am perfectly happy with CS5 and see nothing in CS6 so far that will improve the quality of my work or workflow. So for me I’ll be happy to wait for another momentous upgrade such as CS5 was, before I shell out the bucks. 

  • realpro12

    I can’t afford to give adobe a grand every year.  This is extortion! How is it a grand every year? It’s a free market. They can charge for a quality product, so can you. If your photography business can’t provide the capitol
    to upgrade $150.00, you do not have a photography business. Learn how to charge for your work. Scott runs an association – he is defending his members and protecting his interests. That is understandable.

  • JoANn

    I’m a little late to comment but I found this “open letter” because I have been going through extreme pains trying to convince Adobe that, because of their upgrade policy for PhotoShop CS6, I upgraded from CS4 to CS5 in February. Just three months later, I went online to upgrade to CS6 when I found that the policy had been reversed to allow upgrades to CS6 from CS4 (even CS3 I believe). for the same $199.00 I spent upgrading CS5. I believe, with every bone in my body, that I should not have to spend another 199.00 to upgrade from CS5 to CS6 because, as per Adobe policy, I spent it upgrading to CS5.
    Like many people, I have been loyal Adobe customer since Adobe PhotoShop v4.

  • Lawrenceg20

    If this is really the case, then Adobe are shooting themselves in the foot. I won’t pay annually for an upgrade. All this means is that Adobe will receive more money on fewer occasions – and piss off their previously very loyal customer base. I know I’m pissed off. I’m from New Zealand and they charge an extra $100 to buy the upgrade here. How is that fair? They may well be giving their opposition a leg up with this.

  • Phillip Blake

    Typically Adobe makes major improvements to Photoshop every other release. CS3 great, CS4 dud, CS5 great and so on. Don’t know what CS6 instills but I’ll bet CS7 is a bigger improvement.