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Adobe Creative Suite 3 sales 'on fire'

Creative professionals are buying the latest graphics and Web suite faster than previous releases, according to an analyst group.

People are taking a serious shine to Adobe Systems' Creative Suite 3.

Creative professionals are buying the most recent version of Adobe's flagship product, released in April, much faster than the previous suite, according to retail data compiled by NPD Group.

Unit volume sales of CS3 after six months were up 87 percent when compared with the first six months of sales of Creative Suite 2, which was released in May 2005. A comparison of dollar sales through U.S. retail outlets and e-commerce sites shows almost the same increase.


"This shows that the CS3 launch was an absolute success and Adobe hit one out of the park," said Chris Swenson, an analyst at NPD Data.

He said that the strategy of linking the different products gained through the merger of Adobe and Macromedia is resonating with customers.

"Improved integration means massive time savings for creative professionals and developers, so a lot of people are rushing to get the product," he said. For example, people can take files from photo-editing package Photoshop and work with them in Web-authoring tool Dreamweaver.

Commercial sales of CS3, typically sold directly by Adobe, show a slower adoption rate than retail. The unit volume growth was about 25 percent higher for the first six months of CS3 compared with the first six months of CS2.

"So U.S. commercial sales of CS3 are doing good; U.S. retail sales are on fire," Swenson said.

The rate at which people are buying CS3 is closely watched by financial analysts because it represents a large percentage of Adobe's revenue.

During a meeting with financial analysts and media at Adobe's Max conference earlier this month, company executives acknowledged that CS3 was outpacing CS2 sales in terms of revenue.

In September, Adobe beat analysts' estimates for its third-quarter earnings and raised its full-year forecast.

Of the different editions of Creative Suite 3, NPD's figures show that the Design Premium edition is the best-selling version, accounting for more than 50 percent of retail sales. Adobe's most-expensive option, called Master Collection, accounts for only about 2 percent of retail unit shipments.

The Design Premium edition is most popular, Swenson said, because it includes the most common set of tools designers and developers use: Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, Dreamweaver, InDesign, and Acrobat 8 Professional.

Sales of CS3 on the Mac make up about 75 percent of sales, consistent with CS2 sales, he added.