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Adobe Creative Cloud: This Ain't Dropbox

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[Editor's Note: After publication of this article, Adobe clarified its position on Edge's availability after the May 11 launch date for Adobe Creative Cloud, stating "Users are currently able to get Edge Public Preview for free on Adobe Labs. Adobe will detail purchase and/or subscription options when Edge 1.0 is released later this year."]

Yesterday's announcement regarding the launch of Adobe's Creative Suite 6 (CS6) and the Creative Cloud received significant editorial attention across the globe. Yet during a post-launch question and answer session at the de Young Museum in San Francisco, Adobe executives admitted that not everyone will find the Creative Cloud offering appealing.

"We still see a large market for our perpetual licenses," said David Wadhwani, Adobe's senior vice president of digital media, referring to the boxed sets of products that consumers and businesses alike buy for prices ranging from $899 to $2499.

"We feel that creative professionals, over the next few years, will migrate to the Creative Cloud for a number of reasons," he continued.

A few of the points that Wadhwani and Adobe CEO, Shantanu Narayen made during the Q&A session may shed additional light on Adobe's plans.

More Relaxed Licensing for Creative Cloud

Those who sign up for Creative Cloud will receive a more relaxed end user licensing agreement (EULA) that allows the individual cloud subscriber to load Creative Suite applications on up to two computers, whether they be Macintosh or Windows computers.

"We find that customers want flexibility," said Wadhwani, noting that some customers have a Windows desktop and a Mac laptop. "Our previous EULA only allowed for installation on two computers with the same operating system, so we think the expanded licensing will help our customers."

While there are numerous programs—somewhere north of 30 applications are included in Creative Cloud—the EULA will not allow the "lesser" applications like Adobe Edge to be loaded on to other machines. In other words, loading any Creative Cloud application on any device uses one of the two available licenses, a point that may be frustrating to those freelancers who have multiple machines dedicated to specific tasks such as print work, web development and even video production.

More Applications Coming for Creative Cloud

One of the oddities of the Creative Cloud public launch was a video that showed features that would be offered at a later date to Creative Cloud subscribers.

It seemed an odd thing to showcase during the launch, almost a tease to those who might be considering purchasing the perpetual license, or who were hesitant to buy into the Creative Cloud concept.

"We're just at the beginning of the flexibility we will offer Creative Cloud subscribers," said CEO Narayen. "We will continue to add value going forward, including new applications."

Some Applications are Cloud-Only

We've covered Adobe Edge during the preview phase, with Adobe pushing out updates on a monthly basis. We were surprised, however, to find out yesterday that Edge will only be available in Creative Cloud and will not be available for separate purchase. The same is true of another application we've covered: Adobe Story.

When asked about this Wadhwani noted that Adobe can do faster iterations of non-point products for inclusion in Creative Cloud.

This carrot-and-stick approach, where some applications are held back from perpetual licensing as a way to force users into the Creative Cloud, may backfire. Edge has a compelling value proposition to someone who might already have a Creative Suite perpetual license, but who might not want to pay $49.99 per month (or even the $29.99 per month introductory price for the next year) just for access to Adobe Edge.

Additionally, Some products that have been point products are now slated to be moved to the Creative Cloud. For instance, the inclusion of Adobe Lightroom 4 was mentioned in the "what's coming" video as a later addition to Creative Cloud. As such it will be interesting to see what happens in the near term to sales of the Lightroom point product.

Creative Cloud Offers More than Just Storage

In the launch session, Adobe's Jeff Veen took significant time to explain what Adobe's 20GB of online storage could do for Creative Cloud subscribers.

"When an Adobe file is put into Adobe's Creative Cloud," said Veen, who is Adobe's senior director of products, "we can do a number of things with the file, including rendering out previews, allowing basic manipulation of layers in programs and even generate metadata."

This last piece, generating metadata from video or project files, may prove especially useful for the streaming video world. In addition, the ability to view these rendered previews on any device—including Apple's iPad and iPhone devices—will allow for mobile access to content.

What is less certain, though, is whether video content can be streamed from the Creative Cloud, so we will report again on additional details after general availability of both CS6 and the new Creative Cloud.

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