It Can Always Be Better

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Settling Adobe's Dust Cloud

I buy the clip art I use so I can support the artist, do you?
Illustration: Art Explosion
“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
― Elie Wiesel

“Get up, stand up, Stand up for your rights. Get up, stand up, Don't give up the fight.”
― Bob Marley, Bob Marley - Legend  

By now, many of us have heard of or read about Adobe's rental scheme. They call it the Creative Cloud. Clearly, they have taken an unprecedented step toward a modern-day form of technological sharecropping system. For those unfamiliar with the term, sharecropping, I will explain: In America we had many freed Black slaves who rented farm land from white land owners. However, instead of keeping and reinvesting the profits and crops, the farmer had to give back a part of the crop and pay the owner—or his subsidiaries—inordinate amounts of money for living expenses, clothing, salt, sugar, etc. Adobe is doing the same thing. They know professionals need CMYK, Lab, channel blending and other essential features which their competitors have not yet mastered. They have us by the neck.

As David Pogue explained in his New York Times article: "In the old days, buying the annual upgrade cost $200, and you didn’t have to upgrade every year. In three years, you might have spent $200 or $400; now you’ll pay $720." Keep in mind he is only talking about (loyal) Adobe customers who only own Photoshop or Photoshop and another application and upgrade every other year (and less). However, that's still a lot of customers—including myself!

Regarding our outrage and the protests which have culminated into an online petition, Mr. Pogue concludes that "...the petition is utterly hopeless. Adobe won’t change its course, because Adobe doesn’t care about those people. It already considers them a lost cause."

So then what? Just roll over and do nothing? This comes across as arrogant and apathetic. Clearly, the above quotes about silence and standing up for one's rights is our duty! As human beings, Americans, Swedes, Zambians, Russians or (insert your interest group here), it is incumbent upon us to speak against wrongdoing—and do all within our means to stop it. Protest is healthy. Sitting on your frustrations will make you sick. Eventually, if they feel helpless, people just blow up.

Conversely, there are some popular voices such as the National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP)—who have an entrenched relationship with Adobe—that cannot just "drop" the corporation's products like a hot potato.

In the latest July/August edition of Photoshop User magazine, Mr. Scott Kelby consumes all the apathy juice given to us by stating "...I don't think there is any chance whatsoever that Adobe is going to return to the old way of developing and selling software. This subscription-only model is here to stay."

Now, instead of telling us that "Adobe is wrong, but NAPP has staff and salaries to pay," he comes across as arrogant: "This [scam] is here to stay [and you better just go along with it]." It's not that he and others want to be apologists or arrogant. They just come across as apologists or arrogant because they don't relate to us. NAPP could feature all its staff and show how much they would lose if he stopped teaching about Adobe products. We, the independent small businesses, can relate to strange bedfellows and unpleasant realities. This is what Mr. Kelby and those tied to the Adobe Machine need to tell us over and over until the anger subsides. However, they need to wake up to the reality that quite a few of us are saying goodbye forever to Adobe and NAPP would be wise to adapt that that model!

In my opinion, being "real" with us will encourage cooler heads and focus the negativity on the real enemy: Adobe. Moreover, it will rally more support for Adobe's serious commercial competitors such as Paint Shop Pro and PhotoLine.

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