Is Adobe’s New Cloud Subscription Really Cheaper Than Buying Photoshop?

On Monday Adobe officially announced its upcoming Creative Cloud subscription service, which will allow users to “rent” CS6 for $50 a month or Photoshop by itself for $20 a month. Whitson Gordon over at Lifehacker did some calculations on whether subscribing is actually worth it. Here’s his conclusion:

If you’re upgrading from a previous version of the program, it’s quite a bit cheaper to just grab the upgrade from Adobe instead of subscribing. And, if you can get a student discount (which nearly anyone can do), that’ll be cheaper too—at least in the case of Photoshop, which doesn’t seem to offer a subscription for students. In the case of the Master Collection, the student subscription is cheaper than the regular student version, but still not cheaper than upgrading from a previous version. However, once you get past the two year mark, all bets are off—the subscription is more expensive than buying, even if you plan on upgrading every two years.

[…] our official recommendation is to stick with the retail versions unless you only plan on using your Adobe product for under two years. The subscription is great for the short run […], but it’ll cost you quite a bit more in the long run.

Adobe’s John Nack also writes that one of the huge benefits of the new model is that it drastically reduces the barrier to entry. Previously you had to pay $700 to get started with using Photoshop. Now the cost is $20.

Is Adobe’s Creative Cloud Subscription Cheaper than Buying Photoshop? [Lifehacker]

  • will hall

    considering the level of piracy present around adobe software, im not sure there’s ever been much of a barrier to entry

  • lennartbnl

    But a giant barrier to legal entry.

  • Steve Job’s Ghost

    Just download the demo and google the serial. Adobe makes it too easy nowadays.

  • Jon

    It is only cheaper if you are a Master Collection user or you want some other features like Digital Publishing Suite (which is expensive in its own right).

    However for Photoshop w/ Lightroom you are paying $850 or so. That is 17 months of Cloud Suite at the commercial price of $50/mo (I am not including the discounted $30/mo for CS3-5 customers). So you will end up paying more provided Photoshop doesn’t receive an update at the .5 level on the odd years as you will pay $1,200 for Cloud Suite over two years.

    For someone who just uses Photoshop and Lightroom only, just buying those two pieces of software is still the best investment.

  • snapshot1

    I was just posting this somewhere else. For the Master collection it makes total sense and you pay far less over 4+ years then you would to buy it outright plus buying all the updates. And honestly why wouldn’t get you Master Collection if you are going the subscription route? How many people just uses one Adobe product and if you going to pay for two, then it’s the same price as Master Collection and you then can pick and choose what you want installed on your system at any given moment.

    Here is my breakdown:

    CS Master collection subscription=$50 a month CS Master Collection Retail=$2020 on Amazon Adobe upgrades about every 1.5 years = $400-$500
    $600×2(years)= $1200

    How is $2020 cheaper then $1200 for the life of the CS6 product cycle?


    4 years subscription with all updates = $2400
    RETAIL:Amazon price=$2020
    +CS6.5 upgrade after 1.5 years=$2500
    +CS7 upgrade 1.5 years later= $3000
    +CS7.5 upgrade 1.5 years later=$35004 years after paying full price plus upgrades= $3500 $3500 or $2400 in 4 years for Master collection?

    course it’s obvious if you already have the suite and just pay the
    upgrade cost, but technically you had to pay full price at some point.

    Also saying “well everyone can cheat and
    get the student price” then you might as well say, “well everyone can steal
    it online for free.” It’s not really an debatable argument of either paying for a copy or subscribing.


  • Justice

    Here’s the thing: you can pay 999.99 for the master collection as a student and you’ll have to pay 500 to upgrade that every 3 +- years OR, you can pay 20/month (temp. discount) as a student which will cost you $240/year. It would take 4 years for you to total up to the cost of buying the whole package. By then, there will likely be CS7 and with the subscription there is no additional cost. That means that you you are fully up to date and if you decide it’s not for you after a year, you are only short of 240, not 999.

    Here’s the easy math: (4 year subscription = $960.. *Stand-alone + upgrade* = $1500.00 … You save: $540) Oh, and hey: if Adobe wants to update their suite every 2 years with a new addition and you want to stay updated, you get the 999 for free. But remember this: it’s an investment and/or a hobby. If you are working for 20/hr, you are only putting in 15 min a week to obtain this awesome suite of programs that allows you to do all sorts of cool stuff that has the potential to either make you one happy artist and/or a nice career. It’s simple math, and a great value as you can opt out after a year if you don’t like it.

  • Justice

    Frankly, I’m sure a lot of people will welcome being legal again. It sure beats the heck out of the fear of getting viruses through torrents/other sources. That, and this is such a great value. Heck, that’s 30 minutes a week of work(10/hr) to afford something that may give me an awesome career. :)