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Adobe Whisper

Adobe Whisper

Research Question: Will Adobe lose market share due to a backlash from the shift to a rent-only strategy for its Photoshop CC software?

Companies Covered: Adobe Systems (ADBE), Apple (AAPL), Microsoft Corporation (MSFT)

Report Available: August 1, 2013


Blueshift’s initial research shows that Adobe’s rent-only Photoshop software has kicked off a controversy that hurts small businesses more than large enterprises to the point that a petition has been started to stop the pricing-model change.



  1. ADBE launched its new Photoshop software, Photoshop CC, for a monthly rental fee only, eliminating the option to purchase it, or earlier versions, outright. The new fee is $30 a month or $240 a year to rent Photoshop CC, or $600 a year for the entire creative suite, though ADBE can change prices at any time. New features include consistent updates, subscription to an online portfolio, and simultaneous usage on a Mac and PC. The downside is the increased expense that comes with the monthly rental, especially for small businesses that only use one or two of the programs in the suite.
  2. A Blueshift primary interview with a software trainer and consultant revealed an opening for competitors to take share from ADBE. “In the near-term, ADBE may see a bump in part due to the new subscription-only, cloud strategy. However, people are already getting angry and that presents opportunity to competitors. ADBE may be facing unexpected challenges and rival publishers could benefit. Only 25% of my customer training base were true graphic professionals, but 60% were business administrators who wanted to learn professional graphic software skills. Unlike design pros, they aren’t conditioned to see ADBE as the only option, which opens the door for rivals to enter the market. Quark immediately said its alternative would always be available as a perpetual license product. Corel immediately went to promoting its alternatives.”
  3. The switch from buying to renting has caused the Photoshop faithful to create a petition to stop the change, which they say could devastate small businesses, freelancers, and individual customers. This change is pushing one consumer to switch to a competitor: “Due to the nature of the ‘upgrade at gun point’ change, and the forced ‘renting’ of software at prices that could be jacked up at anytime, I will not continue with the Adobe brand. It’s suicide for a small business model.”
  4. Blueshift’s July 2012 ADBE report showed positive sentiments from 12 of 17 sources for ADBE’s Creative Suite 6 subscription model due to its immediate updates, affordable price points, and user flexibility, but ADBE had not yetrevealed it would get rid of ownership of the software.


Blueshift will gather data and issue a market research report from independent sources in the following areas: graphic designers, web designers, Photoshop print and digital media users, developers, and advertising agencies.


To see other ideas Blueshift Research is currently working on, please click here.