Jeff Veen: turning pirates into customers

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Oddly enough they lost me as a customer when adobe went to subscription.


Me too. Fortunately, for my personal work, I just don’t rely on it as much as I used to (a lot less work for print). But then, I’m still sore about getting burned when they decided not to do an OS X version of FrameMaker. If they were to reintroduce an OS X (or even better, a Linux) version of FrameMaker, that might be worth paying for.

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I haven’t upgraded since the subscription model went into effect, either. I’m starting to soften on this, though.

One of the things that Adobe has done to blunt the impact of not owning the software has been the vast number of new products that can work with, say, Photoshop files without being a Photoshop subscription. My big fear was that once I was in the subscription world, I couldn’t suspend the subscription and still use my files. I’m currently not using Photoshop often enough to even justify the subscription, but still may need to open a file from time to time.

The photographer’s bundle for Photoshop and Lightroom, which runs $10 a month, is about equivalent to the upgrades I used to purchase each year, but I had the option of skipping upgrades if I wasn’t using Photoshop to make money.

The problem is that most pirate/casual users of Photoshop are not potential customers of Photoshop. They’re not future customers or lost sales. Photoshop is ten times more software than they need, they’re not professionals, they’re not getting $600 worth of value from Photoshop over their lifetimes. The only reason they’re using Photoshop instead of Gimp is they need to roundtrip this one image with someone who is using Photoshop.

Maybe they’re Photoshop Elements customers, but even that’s a bit pricey, and last time I wanted to use it it wasn’t roundtripping PSDs properly. I ended up buying a three or four version old copy of Photoshop from a reseller, and used it until it didn’t run any more.

For anyone familiar with the KODI (XBMC) video streaming platform, it is a hotbed of piracy. I was watching with a friend who is a KODI enthusiast and mentioned that if someone is watching a TV series week after week, there might be a chance to lure that viewer from the “dark side” by having a KODI add-on that offered to keep track of episodes, but also gently prompts the viewer that people work on this content and btw here are some legitimate sources of that content. Naive?

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I’ve been a professional graphic designer since before Adobe was a company. I resent the hell out of having to pay a monthly fee for InDesign and Photoshop. I have to use them because my clients demand that I do. But I don’t rent my hammers from Sears and I don’t want to rent InDesign from Adobe.

I got a lot out of Veen’s 2000 book “The Art and Science of Web Design” so I’m not exactly a Veen-Hater but this quote shows which side he’s on:

look at the stock price over the last four five years and it’s been phenomenal. Totally, totally worked.

Worked for who? The customers? Or the stockholders?


Well said. The subscription model that they’ve switched to is great for shareholders.
It could conceivably be great for users, but only if it results in a streamlined product, with constant beneficial upgrades and useful new features.

From my experience to date, I’d say that’s not the case. Adobe continues to poorly muddle around with mobile-focused design integration. Likewise, they railroad you into paying for a lot of software that you wont use, with a lot of overlap between the apps. Updates are unimportant and slow to arrive, and - as seemed to be the case with the prior versions - there seems to be a diminishing return on worthwhile new features and programs.

I’m eager for a serious competitor to come along and gobble up the customer base that they’ve decided is only fit to wring even more cash from.

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Yep. I’ve given serious thought to buying Quark (I know, I know) because I’d buy it once and have it until I decided an upgrade was important enough to spend money on.

For me, I don’t use a DTP app often enough. So I’ve been priced out Adobe entirely because I’m not going to plunk down $50 a month for the rest of my life for something that I may only use 6 times a year.

(Anyone who wants an earful can recommend Scribus to me. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: )

OR, people stopped upgrading because (especially in Photoshop’s case) the products were mature and new full-price versions had increasingly little to offer.

I use Photoshop and Illustrator all the time, both for work and not, and I still use CS3. I didn’t have any compelling reason to upgrade before they launched their despised new model, and still don’t, although for Illustrator it’s reaching the point where I would have upgraded. I’d definitely have upgraded InDesign by now, but I don’t use that so much, and it turns out I’m willing to put up with a surprising level of inconvenience purely to spite them. I do pay for TypeKit, because that’s good value.

When Adobe compares the cost of CC to the cost of upgrading every year(ish), that’s deeply disingenuous; if you were only paying for upgrades that were worth having, you weren’t paying anything like that much. These people who allegedly love the CC model are presumably (a) new customers who don’t realise how much more expensive it actually is, or (b) corporate purchasers who’d been shelling out for every single upgrade because their users didn’t care about the cost.

But the nub of it is, Adobe switched to a compulsory rental model because they could no longer offer enough value to justify the amount of money they wanted people to give them.


I own CS5 legally at home and CS6 for work. But they lost my new business for some years (TBD, still fine with CS5) when they went subscription. F’ that! They are very disingenuous when comparing costs. I never paid full retail. I got a cross-upgrade in Photoshop somewhere back around version 3 and pretty much skipped almost every other version since then. And when I did go to buy (for my own use) it was when the upgrade price dropped to $150 or less. So I compare their monthly rate to $125 to $150 for two to three years of my use of a given version.

Adobe managed to force my hand in the past by not updating their RAW/NEF converter unless you had a more recent version of PS. To that, I now figure I can use a 3rd party converter the next time I upgrade my camera.


Is it possible to use the latest versions of abodes stuff offline? Did this subscription model thing happen to coincide with always-online DRM, by any chance?

My memory’s fuzzy but IIRC it’seemed very much the same kind of tactic that Blizzard pulled with Diablo 3: take something that doesn’t need to be online and make it be online, to make piracy difficult or impossible.

Anyway. Memory’s foggy. Can’t swear to it. In either case, subscribing for perpetuity to use abodes stuff sounds like a terrible deal to me.

Yeah, I keep reading good things about Affinity Photo and a one-off price of ÂŁ40 sure beats a CC subscription.

Indeed. Many people (my company included) would upgrade every two or three versions as there really wasn’t much need to have bleeding edge versions of every application (with InDesign being the possible exception, depending on how much you worked with other people).

Pff, Adobe. I still use v9 of Paint Shop Pro, the last one before Corel turned it to bloatware. It’s from 2004.

I’ve got Chasys Draw sitting there, waiting for me to learn it, but I haven’t felt any reason for something more modern yet.


It is usable offline, but it has to phone home at least every 30 days (I think it’s 30) in order to keep working.

It is a terrible idea, and if I had another viable option, I’d go with it. Print production is chained to Adobe, at least in part. Quark is a good replacement for InDesign, but nothing replaces Photoshop and Illustrator adequately.

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I have a client like that… I have to re-create almost everything he sends, or it won’t print properly. Of course, this might be PEBKAC, not the software.

At least he doesn’t try to do brochures in Excel {shudder}. Been there, required liquor.

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Once spent a few weeks trying to figure out why this one group of engineers would send jobs that b0rk3d (hung up) the printer. Turned out they were pasting pictures into Excel to print them out. Lots.

All of us techs boggled… like man at least use Word for that if you are going to do that kind of thing.


Maybe they were trying to line them up preci—Nah, I got nothing. *shudder*

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future customers

I really like that

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