Software Subscription Models Revisited

Adobe Logo

Adobe Logo

As some die hard friends and colleagues are aware, Canon Blogger, suffered a catastrophic failure about a year or so ago now, and I’ve slowly been crawling along as I try to resurrect the archives, and get everything back online. The process has been a tedious one as with nearly ten years of content, some was lost for good when the server crashed, other content survived in the last backup that was performed. Be that as it may, I recently was reading an article on Medium about The Rise of the Rent Seeker and thought to myself, “Oh my GOSH, this nails on the head exactly what I was trying to say way back in 2011 when Adobe made the switch to the subscription model for their software licensing model.  This was such a good read that I wanted to share it (thus realizing another two or three articles that were lost, but now recovered courtesy of The Wayback Machine) in the context of my original thoughts. You can read my original articles here and here.

In a nutshell, this most recent article from Medium explains that:

…the economy has two kinds of entrepreneurs: profit seekers and rent seekers, and those who participate in the latter are redistributing the wealth from the subscribers pocket to their own.  Adobe has made the shift to this model, and as such, they are extracting value, but not giving any real value back….”

It goes on to elaborate about how the technical space is inherently badly suited for innovation and development when they convert to this model.   But the statement made is pretty powerful:

Increasingly, mature software vendors who have run out of innovation runway turn to rent seeking, increasingly we are are told that the subscriptions will soon be everywhere and there is a real problem with that.

Toward that end, it raised the question in my mind:  Does that mean Adobe has stopped innovating? What else can be added Photoshop or Photoshop Lightroom to improve our workflow? I honestly don’t know as I’ve stopped upgrading as of CS5 and LR 4. I’d love to hear others thoughts on whether or not Adobe has really been all that innovative over the past 3-4 years. It was telling though, that the author actually used Adobe in his illustration of the dangers of entering into a subscription model:

Adobe Reference in  Medium Article

Adobe Reference in Medium Article

The article does give a little bit of validation to me though, in seeing someone else so much more eloquently than I as to why renting is almost always (in the long run) not in the best fiscal interest of the consumer.

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