Adobe Introduces Software Rentals “With Pay As You Go”.

Yesterday Adobe announced an upgrade to its acclaimed Creative Suite. While there were a bunch of things in the software that would get any creative pro excited, the biggest buzz generator for me was Adobe’s announcement to lease, or rent software licenses.

This is the first step that a software giant has taken to help offset my cost of working with their tools. Right now Adobe is offering Adobe Photoshop for $35/month, the Design Premium suite for $95/month, or the Master Collection for $129/month (for a year. It’s $195.00 on a month to month basis). While this pricing structure might sound a bit steep, think about the annual cost of renting the Master Collection versus Buying the upgrade. The cost of renting the Master Collection is $1548.00 a year. If you are a creative professional, that cost is offset as an operating expense, and can be either be deducted from your taxes, or passed on to your client.

While I am excited about the idea of renting software as opposed to buying it, I wish Adobe gave me the option to pay as I play. I own the Master Collection, but there are certain components I hardly ever use. Take InDesign, I fire it up about twice a month. Instead of renting the entire suite for $129.00 a month, it would be better if I could rent it at a lower price, and then pay extra for the software components I use occasionally like InDesign. Something like $80.00 a month for the Suite, and $5.00 extra when I fire up InDesign. (just a thought Adobe in case you are reading this)

As for the cost of renting, while that $1548.00 a year sounds steep, Adobe announced that they are moving to a 12 month release cycle on software. The upgrade cost for the Master Collection is between $549.00 and $1399.00 depending on what software you are upgrading from. The majority of the upgrade prices are $1399.00. Right now this is less expensive than renting for a year, but your purchase is a one time cost deduction, compared with a monthly operating expense. You might want to consult with your accountant on how much you can deduct, but I’m thinking in the long run renting is the better deal. And if you pass the cost of renting on to your clients, there is the possibility that your rental cost zeros out. if you work 8 jobs a month, the rental cost passed on to your clients is $16.12 per client a month, a charge most client will be willing to swallow. Think of it as materials and supplies, which is something you haven’t been able to do with software before.

As the new rental program moves forward, I’m sure the pricing structure will change. Hopefully the cost will come down as more people opt in for renting instead of buying. And hopefully Adobe will let you rent as you need to, rather than renting for a whole year. I really like the idea of being able to rent a software license when I need it, rather than locking into renting it for a predetermined block of time.