Back in the mid-1990’s, everyone in the design world hated one company with a passion: Quark. If you wanted to do professional print publishing, you had to use QuarkXPress. And Quark knew it, fleecing its customers with absurd pricing, adding on onerous conditions, and even at one point dongling its products.
Then along came Adobe InDesign. InDesign 1.0 wasn’t as good as QuarkXPress, but to print publishers who were fed up with Quark’s attitude to its customers, it didn’t matter: they switched, as soon as they could. Quark realised that it no longer had its customers in an arm-lock too late, and despite getting its act together, lost a lot of sales.
There’s an old saying that those who fail to learn the lessons of history are condemned to repeat its mistakes, and this is as true for software publishers as anyone else. And it appears Adobe, of all companies, simply doesn’t understand the lesson that it taught Quark.
How much do you think Photoshop costs? The answer, if you’re an American customer, is a whopping $649. It gets worse if you’re a European customer. In the UK – and without even taking into account VAT – you will pay nearly $1000 more for a copy of Creative Suite Premium compared to the US. Just the difference between the US and UK versions equates to the price of two copies of Logic Studio ($499 each) or nearly the cost of Final Cut Studio 2. If anyone from Adobe would care to explain why it costs more for me to download a product in the UK than it does to download the same code from the same servers in the US then I’d love to hear about it.
In other words, Adobe is simply gouging its customers because it knows that, if you want to do professional image manipulation, you have to use Photoshop. Like Quark, it knows that there isn’t another option and is pricing accordingly.
But, of course, this means that the first company which comes along with an alternate – even if it doesn’t quite match up to Photoshop’s feature set – is likely to clean up. And Adobe will deserve it. Roll on the Photoshop alternatives.