Adobe Systems is having a hard time convincing skeptics that its Creative Cloud is worthwhile, but most of those who've signed up plan to renew their subscription to Adobe's software and services for another year's payments.
Those are some of the findings from the latest survey from CNET and analyst firm Jefferies. We've been tracking the demise of Adobe's Creative Suite software, which is sold through perpetual licenses but no longer updated, and its Creative Cloud replacement, which grants access to the CS software, some extra new titles, and online services for publishing, sharing files, and promoting creative work.
Of the 187 respondents who are CC users, 58 percent said they planned to renew their subscriptions. About 20 percent said they wouldn't, and 23 percent didn't know.
That may not be all Adobe is hoping for, but it's not bad given the dramatic, sometimes customer-alienating move to subscriptions. Adobe will tell how many new subscribers it's won over when it reports results for its first fiscal quarter of 2014 on Tuesday.
Last quarter, Adobe reported reaching 1.44 million Creative Cloud subscribers at the end of November, sending its stock to an all-time high. It's risen since then, to close at $68.06 on Wednesday. Jefferies analyst Ross MacMillan estimates that Adobe will add another 399,000 subscribers in the most recent quarter. Gradually, the Creative Suite is becoming a thing of the past and the Creative Cloud is turning into business as usual.
Despite the new signups, which are arriving faster than Adobe initially predicted, lots of customers are displeased with Adobe's move. They don't like the idea of software that stops working if they stop paying, leaving projects high and dry unless they resubscribe. Disgruntled customers have called upon Adobe to rethink its discontinuation of the perpetually licensed products, but Adobe is sticking with subscriptions.
There are a variety of Creative Cloud subscriptions, but the most widely used gives creative pros access to the full collection of products and services at $50 a month for a full-year commitment. However, many customers got a first-year discounted rate of $30 per month. For those who want to reactivate a subscription for a short-term project, a single month costs $75. Other options include single-product subscriptions for $20 per month and the Photoshop Photography Program, which includes Lightroom and Photoshop for $10 a month, but which Adobe has said is a limited-time option.
There are some signs of trouble. For example, the number of people saying they're satisfied or very satisfied with CC dropped from 88 percent in December 2012 to 51 percent in March 2014. And the number saying the planned not to renew increased from 16 percent to 20 percent. This wasn't a scientific survey, however.
On the other hand, in the most recent survey, 9 percent of Creative Cloud subscribers said they weren't Adobe customers before, indicating there's a substantial possibility for attracting new buyers. For those who were customers, the largest number -- 46 percent -- moved from the most recent CS6 version of the Creative Suite products.
Creative Suite customers who said they're evaluating alternatives to Adobe named several competitors: 48 percent listed Apple; 45 percent listed Corel; 41 percent listed GIMP; 18 percent listed Quark; and 13 percent listed Xara.
In the most recent survey, respondents were overall neutral on Adobe's importance in the creative market: of 354 respondents, 22 percent said it's becoming more important, 56 percent said there's no change, and 22 percent said it's becoming less important.