With 326K Paid Of 1M Total Members, Adobe Adds Teams To Creative Cloud, Subscriber-Exclusive Updates To Photoshop CS6

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Adobe is hosting an event today to show off some new updates it’s making for its Creative Cloud offerings, but here’s an advance look: The service is getting a number of exclusive updates that seem clearly designed to paint it as the upgrade path of choice, vs. the boxed and digital on-time software licensing fees that creative pros have used to get access to products like Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator in the past. New to Creative Cloud is an offering aimed at collaboration called Teams, as well as a number of feature updates for Photoshop CS6 that will be made available only to Creative Cloud subscribers on monthly or annual plans.

The new additions to Photoshop CS6 include the HiDPI and Retina Display support that the company announced and released to the public yesterday, which is also available to owners of existing licensed copies of the software. But all other new features are Creative Cloud exclusives  including Smart Object support for the Blur Gallery and Liquify tools, a new convert-to-CSS exporter for Photoshop files, letting you instantly generate usable code for text and object elements, with only relative positioning info needed to be added manually. Other additions include various time-saving tweaks, better 3D tools like live previews of shadows, and Conditional Actions based on user-defined rules for a more customizable, faster image processing workflow.

All of the changes are nice, and in a product demo, the CSS export and new Smart Object support were especially impressive, but Adobe will likely take a lot of heat for keeping these changes limited to the Creative Cloud channel. The company is clearly invested in making this the path of choice for future Adobe creative suite users; it made a big deal of having signed on around 326,000 paying subscribers out of a total of 1 million Creative Cloud members, around 80 percent of whom are on annual plans, rather than the more costly, but less committed monthly options. Adobe argues that the reason they’ve seen such quick, high adoption is because of what Creative Suite means for subscribers and creative pros.

“One of the reasons that Creative Cloud has been so popular is that one of the promises we made to customers is that if you went with Creative Cloud, you would always get a constant stream of innovation from Adobe,” Scott Morris, Senior Marketing Director of Creative Cloud and Creative Suite at Adobe explained on a press call. “You wouldn’t have to wait two years for major product releases; you would get access to updates and upgrades the moment they’re available.”

Creative Cloud also now gets team support starting at $49.99 per month per seat for group members, allowing organizations or teams to sign up, and giving them access to everything from the individual version, but also adding virtual workgroup management, 100GB of cloud-based storage per user instead of 20GB, support services and an administrative panel for group software deployment and team management. Two other new additions are an Adobe Muse update that allows for creation of mobile-specific websites for individual devices, so the correct design will be served no matter where a user is viewing from, and Creative Cloud Connection, which is like Dropbox’s desktop integration but for saving to your Adobe-managed cloud storage.

Digital Publishing Suite also now has a Single Edition, which can help users publish one-off content, like a brochure or catalog, and submit them directly to the Apple App Store for publication. It’s designed to give smaller companies access to the same kind of publishing power as major media entities, but without the added commitment requirements of ongoing content.

Clearly, Adobe wants to make it very apparent that Creative Cloud members get preferential treatment with these updates. It’s a hard sell of the $49.99 monthly service (when on annual membership), and one that seems designed to steer folks away from buying individual copies outright. In many ways, it makes more sense for Adobe to operate this way (software-as-a-service model allows it to be more nimble and flexible, makes more sense for occasional use customers), but I can’t help but wonder how old-school media professionals will react to these changes. If you want more info on these new changes, be sure to check out Adobe’s live webcast of its event beginning  at 10 AM PT.