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.