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Adobe thinks outside box, nixes retail Creative Suite packaging

Downloads only for Photoshop and family

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Adobe is moving ahead with plans to phase out the boxed, retail versions of its Creative Suite and Acrobat software families, in favor of a distribution model based exclusively on digital downloads and subscriptions.

Word that the graphics software maker had set a hard date to stop selling its wares on physical discs first leaked earlier this month, when Adobe resellers Toolfarm and SoftwareMedia both blogged that they would no longer be able to offer boxed versions of Adobe software beginning on May 1.

According to Toolfarm, the box ban will apply not only to Adobe's bundled Creative Suite Collections, but to all of the individual Creative Suite applications as well, including After Effects, Audition, Flash Pro, Illustrator, Lightroom, Premiere Pro, SpeedGrade, and – most significantly – Photoshop.

The reseller says customers who require physical backup media will still be able to purchase it separately for $20 per disc. Otherwise, the only way for customers to get the software will be via internet download.

When El Reg reached out to Adobe for further enlightenment, the software maker would not confirm the May 1 cutoff date, but it didn't deny the reports, either:

As Adobe continues to focus on delivering world-class innovation through Creative Cloud and digital fulfillment, we will be phasing out shrink-wrapped, boxed versions of Creative Suite and Acrobat products. Electronic downloads for Creative Suite and Acrobat products will continue to be available – as they are today – from both Adobe.com, as well as reseller and retail partners. We are in the process of notifying our channel partners and customers, as plans solidify in each region.

From this we can only infer that this means Adobe might allow resellers to continue to sell the shrink-wrapped versions of its products after May 1 in some regions, but it isn't saying which ones.

When asked whether the move away from packaged software might be a gentle nudge to get more customers onto its Creative Cloud subscription service, Adobe reps remained mum.

Much like Microsoft has done with Office 365, Adobe has been encouraging its customers to switch to a model in which they pay a monthly fee for continuous access to the latest versions of the Creative Suite applications, rather than buying expensive upgrades every few years in the typical desktop software boom-n'-bust cycle.

Currently, a retail version of Adobe's all-inclusive Creative Suite Master Collection lists for $2,599 in the US. By comparison, a Creative Cloud subscription that includes all of the same software plus access to online storage and other cloud services costs just $600 per year.

Customers are still warming up to the subscription-software concept, however, and many still prefer to buy their software outright, rather than rent it. Accordingly, so far Adobe has shown no signs of discontinuing the perpetual-license versions of its Creative Suite products – just don't expect to find them on retail store shelves come May. ®

Bootnote

Digital downloads are all well and good, but your Reg hack couldn't help but notice a curious trend with Adobe pricing. Currently, US customers can buy a copy of Photoshop CS6 from Adobe's website for $699, no matter whether they want to download it or have it shipped to them on disc.

Online resellers routinely discount Adobe's list prices, but it seems not every item gets the same discount. On Amazon, for example, a packaged retail version of Photoshop CS6 for Windows now sells for $579.99, but if you want to download the same software it will set you back $593.77. Similarly, on Newegg.com the boxed version costs $653.99, while the downloadable version is $10 more.

Just why customers should pay more for downloads than for physical products isn't clear – but no wonder Adobe is so eager to get rid of those pesky boxes.

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