If you're a photo enthusiast who uses, or has even thought about using both Adobe's Photoshop and Lightroom, you might want to at least consider this deal that Adobe is still offering — but not for long!

For $9.99 a month, when you sign up a one-year plan, you will have ongoing access to the latest versions of both Photoshop CC (Creative Cloud) and Lightroom (currently version 5) via their new Creative Cloud subscription model. This is not an introductory price, but after 12 months, the price will “renew at the current price of the offer.” (Updated: see below)

But don't spend too long deciding if this is right for you — this deal is only being honored until December 31, 2013.

Honestly, I'm thinking about signing up for this.

Photoshop Photography Program

What Is This Creative Cloud?

Like it or not, Adobe announced this year that almost all of their software is moving to a cloud-based subscription model. Even though the programs are still installed on your computer in the same manner (these aren't web-apps), you are now basically “leasing” the software on a monthly basis. Which means when you stop paying that monthly fee, you will no longer have access to the software.

I would be willing to bet part of the reason they are doing this is to curb the digital “theft” of all of their software. When just one of their applications, Photoshop CS6, costs $699 for the previous full (DVD) version, I suppose it's understandable why many were reluctant to do the right and legal thing and pay for it.

 

Here are the current plans and prices Adobe put out for their Creative Cloud line of software:

Entire Adobe Suite Icons

Applications in Adobe's Creative Cloud

  • $19.99 / month — Single App from the Suite
  • $49.99 / month — Complete Access to Entire Suite (New Customers)
  • $29.99 / month — Complete Access to Entire Suite (Existing Customers — save 40% on your first year)
  • $19.99 / month — Complete Access to Entire Suite (Student & Teachers — save 60% on your first year)

 

The math may work out to your advantage for this new subscription model if you are someone who likes to upgrade your software often. You could actually end up saving money.

But, if you are the type of person who likes purchasing a version and using it for many years before paying for a major upgrade, this could possibly be the deal breaker.

 

For many pro-sumer and casual users who just dabble in the use with any of the various programs in their massive suite — such as Photoshop, After Effects, Illustrator and Dreamweaver — you might already be starting to consider what other options are out there from other software companies.

$599.88 is probably too much to pay on a yearly basis just to do some occasional editing of photos and light video editing for example.

 

This is just my opinion — Adobe did not say this. But after I first read about Adobe's move to the subscription model and had time to process it, my interpretation is that Adobe is basically drawing a new line in the sand and is communicating the following belief to their current and future users:

 

“Look, our software is something really special — actually we think it's amazing! But it's for true professionals earning a living using it and also those who are extremely serious about creating digital stuff on their computers and are therefore willing to sacrifice something else important in their monthly budgets to pay for it.

We no longer want our software to be used by just anyone, and are now proving that to the world with the prices we're charging in our new subscription-only model.”

Limited Time “Photoshop Photography Program”

Even though I do earn a living creating digital content, I can't say that I honestly need to subscribe to every product Adobe makes. Sure, I would like to be able to say I not only know them but actually use them all too. But, the truth is I just don't have that much time on my hands. wink

However, I do like to use Photoshop fairly often. And as you may probably already know, even though I use Aperture more, I love Lightroom and highly recommend it as a photo managing program for people with “advanced goals” on both a PC and a Mac.

 

I have the Adobe CS5 Production Suite installed on my Mac right now. And these already outdated versions are still working fine for me. But, they aren't going to work forever. I know I personally like to upgrade to the newest version of OSX every year it comes out, and eventually this suite just may no longer be compatible.

So basically at $5 a piece per month for both Photoshop and Lightroom, this special limited-time “Photographer's Bundle” may have been made specially for someone just like me.

And it just might possibly be a perfect fit for you too.

 

Let's Break This Down More

Lightroom Only

Now, if you are just interested in using Lightroom, either now or sometime in the future, Adobe did state in a recent FAQ on their blog that Lightroom will be available for purchase outside of a subscription in the same manner as it has been up until now.

Q. Will Lightroom become a subscription only offering after Lightroom 5?

A. Future versions of Lightroom will be made available via traditional perpetual licenses indefinitely.

So, if Lightroom is all you want or need, and the idea moving to this subscription model was causing you a new medical condition, you may now resume a normal breathing pattern. You are safe! (Cheering is allowed)

You will of course just have to pay the normal discounted “upgrade” cost when you choose to move up to a newer version which is currently $79.00. Check out their Lightroom Buying Guide page for additional information.

Photoshop CC + Lightroom

So outside of this special deal, if I am not overlooking something, the cheapest way you could own the latest versions of both Photoshop and Lightroom for the future years to come is one of the following 2 scenarios:

  1. Pay $19.99 a month for each app subscription separately ($39.98 total /month)
  2. Subscribe to just Photoshop CC and then pay for yearly upgrades of the standalone Lightroom (perpetual license) which is currently $79.00 ($149.00 for the full version if you don't already own it).

I probably don't need to do the math and show you my work to convince you that this $9.99 a month deal is in fact the best option on the table today.

Is there Any Fine Print?

Unfortunately yes, there is some fine print you need to be aware of if you are considering this offer.

  • Photoshop CS3+ Owners Only — You need to not only already own a copy of Photoshop to be eligible for this offer, but it needs to be version CS3 or later. Don't fret though, I doubt they would turn you away if you were to legally acquire a license from someone else (Think Craigslist, Ebay, buying one from a friend etc.). It's not stated in the terms as of this posting, but I've also learned it also must be a standalone version of Photoshop — not one of their bundled suites. (See update below)
  • One-Year Purchase — You can't sign up on a “month to month” basis to get this $9.99/mo deal. The terms state, “Offer valid for purchases of an annual plan, which requires a 12-month contract.” You can cancel within 30 days and get a refund. After that, you only receive 50% of amount paid in.
  • Internet Access — Unlike the older model where you purchased a DVD with the software on it as part of their Creative Suite, this Creative Cloud model requires you to have internet access so that the software can occasionally “phone home” to Adobe's headquarters to make sure you are still a current and paid-up subscriber.
  • Taxes — the fine print does say “$9.99 + local taxes.” So many of us may not be able to brag to our late-to-the-party friends, “Hey dude, mine costs me less than 10 bucks!”

 

If you live outside of the United States, check out this article that also lists the prices for the major regions outside of the U.S.

Additional Mac / PC “Switchers” Benefit

This may not apply to you, but if you are like me and switch back and forth between using a Mac as well as a Windows computer, you will be happy to learn that unlike the old DVD-based model of owning your software, their new subscription model now allows you to legally run it on both platforms!

I was reading an article on Forbes and discovered this wonderful bit of news:

Another difference is that unlike the DVD version of the Creative Suite, a Creative Cloud subscription allows you to install your software on two different platforms, so if you run both the Windows and OS X versions simultaneously. While a Creative Suite license gave you the ability to install the software on two systems, you had to choose at the time of purchase whether you wanted the Windows or OS X version.

 

Alright, so if you're interested in this deal and meet the qualifications, click here to get started signing up. And remember, you only have until December 31st of this year to take advantage of it.

(Full disclosure: I am not affiliated with this offer — I will not gain anything monetarily if you join)

Photoshop Photography Program

So what do you think? If you use both of these programs now and want to continue using them in the years ahead, or maybe you are someone who uses Picasa now but wants to try out some more advanced things by getting Photoshop and Lightroom, does this deal seem too good to pass up?

Or is this move to the subscription model making you think now is finally the time to break-up your long love affair with Adobe and try out new programs entirely?

Let's talk about it in the comments below. I'd love to know what your thoughts are.

Polaroid icon

 

Updates Since Publishing:  (2013-11-18)

You Must Own CS3 or Later — Now “Standalone” Versions Only

I spoke with “Scarlett” this morning on Adobe's online chat support to find out the answer to someone's question asked in the comments below. I was stunned when she later told me that I wasn't even eligible for this offer because I own the Creative CS5 Design Standard Suite. She said:

To get this Photography program offer a customer should own the older versions of  CS3 + Photoshop or Photoshop Extended under retail version. The suite will not be qualified for this offer. For this offer a customer should own the standalone product. If you have the standalone product like only Photoshop CS5, not Creative Suite 5 Design Standard which includes Photoshop.

This is not what the terms say. So I copy and pasted them so she could see what I was reading. They state:

This offer is only available to customers who own an older version of a Photoshop or Photoshop Extended product, version CS3 or later (CS3.x, CS4, CS5.x, or CS6), and who purchase directly from the Adobe Store or by calling a regional Adobe Call Center.

Adobe Photoshop Photographers Program Terms

Screenshot of actual Terms (2013-11-18)

It says a little bit more than this, but nowhere in the terms does it say anything about it needing to be a standalone product.

(I'm posting a screenshot of the terms and conditions as they appear today on their website just in case Adobe modifies them later)

After pasting into our chat what the terms state, and explaining how confused I was because I clearly own a version of Photoshop CS3 or newer — it just happened to come in a bundle with additional applications — Scarlett added:

I completely understand your concern, however, as per the terms and condition, it is mentioned for standalone for us. So, for more information, you can check with our customer service team, also. I will help you with the contact number of our customer service team, alright. Please contact our Customer Service at 800-833-6687 they will be glad to help you with that. Nice to have you on chat today smile

What she is saying here is that even though the terms customers can access online don't state this (at least as of today), only the terms that their customer support and possibly other Adobe employees have in front of them, you actually have to own a standalone version of Photoshop CS3 or later to qualify. If however you purchased a suite of products that was actually way more expensive than the standalone version of Photoshop was at the same time, you aren't eligible.

So the takeaway here is the less you spend with Adobe, the more you will be rewarded with promotional offers later.

$9.99 Price — Terms Imply Possibility of Increase

Sarah M. wrote something very interesting in the comments below. She had a little chat with Adobe last night  (2013-11-17) and learned the following:

I contacted Adobe through their online chat last night for clarification regarding the renewal price of the Photoshop Photography Program, specifically the part that states “After the first 12 months, we will automatically renew your contract based on the current price of the offering.” “Fazal” confirmed that “… the price will be charged depending on the offer at that time.” So if it’s still $9.99/month at renewal, that’s the price you get. But if it’s more, then that’s the price you get.

Sarah is right. The terms and conditions do (now?) state the following:

Renewal:  After the first 12 months, we will automatically renew your contract based on the current price of the offering.

At the time I wrote this post, several sources I pulled information from corroborated that even though the “press releases” weren't giving the specific and important information, this deal was in fact not just an introductory offer. The writers were hearing from their credible sources that Adobe was going to stand behind this statement. Such as:

Unlike some recent discounts, Adobe is stressing that this is “not an introductory price”; users that sign up at this subscription level will not have their pricing raised at a future date.

~ Bryan Bishop – The Verge (Sept 4th, 2013)

The Photoshop Photography Program gives users Photoshop CC, Lightroom 5, Bridge CC, Behance, and 20GB of storage for $9.99 per month. That price will never change, as long as you sign up before the end of this year.

Digital Photography Review (Sept 2013)

There appears to be a lot of conflicting information out there. The terms and conditions seem to imply for sure there isn't a 100% guarantee that this $9.99 price will continue to be honored past your first 12 months.

But I'm not quick to believe the writers of the blogs posts I cited above were wrong or ill-informed at the time they wrote them. I think it's fair to also assume it's possible Adobe amended the terms of the program after it was announced in Sept and all the reporters and bloggers wrote up their articles promoting the offer.

I tried contacting Adobe's phone support to get some answers for us on both of these issues. I was disconnected 4 times while being routed through their automated phone system and was never able to speak to a real person. I didn't try a fifth time.

After doing a little bit more research today, I also found this quote from Scott Kelby, editor and publisher or Photoshop Magazine and lots of books that you might already have on your bookshelf about Photoshop:

My understanding is they will hold that $9.99 rate for anyone who gets in on the program before that cutoff date, as long as they stay as subscribers. If they drop off at some point, and they want to come back into the program, they’ll have to come back at the regular price of $19.99. Again, that’s not Adobe talking, that’s just my understanding, but that is my understanding. That being said, I can’t image that in the year 2525, if man is still alive, that it won’t shoot up to $11.00 or $12.00 a month, but I believe they plan on holding it there for the foreseeable future).

~ Scott Kelby (Sept 09, 2013)

So I believe I'm now with Sarah M. on this. After what I found out today, I wouldn't advise anyone to sign up with this program assuming this $9.99 price will be indefinite. With the (current) terms being as ambiguous as they are, it's possible after 12 months it could stay the same, go up $1, or possibly even go up all the way to $29.99 or more.

Their terms (today) warn us: “Offer is valid until December 31, 2013, and can be changed without notice.”

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