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Companies use a subscription business model to ensure revenue for salaries and research and development, or to avoid layoffs when the most recent version of their product doesn’t perform as well as the previous year. The problem is that most consumers don’t want a company’s hand in their pocket every month.

At ACD Systems, we’ve considered going completely subscription, but after hearing from our customers, we determined that model isn’t what they want. Instead of forcing our loyal customers—some of over 20 years—into an uncomfortable situation, we listened, and now offer perpetual and subscription payment options.

Meanwhile, Adobe has announced that the new Lightroom CC will only be available as a subscription. This has shocked, confused, and upset many of their longtime users, causing some to question their loyalty. For the occasional user, they only see an unwelcome expense, a trap, a loss of control, and that Adobe is heading in a worrisome direction. They are concerned that, with a monthly plan, Adobe will lack the incentive to provide consistent, meaningful software improvements.

There is also an underlying distrust of Lightroom CC’s new service in which the user can access their photos in the cloud and pull them down when they need to edit them. The idea of depending on Adobe’s cloud is fraught with unknowns, which users perceive to threaten the stability and longevity of their collections. And after investing potentially hundreds of hours cataloging and keywording images, the idea of no longer “owning” access to their database leaves them feeling uneasy.

“With a subscription model, . . . you end up paying for support for ever more cameras you don't have and features you don't necessarily want, in the knowledge that you'll lose most of the software's capability if, for whatever reason, you don't choose to continue your subscription. The idea that your existing work becomes less controllable, less dynamic, is uncomfortable.

The idea of losing the ability to edit my existing files, even though my needs haven't changed is obnoxious enough that I don't want to further commit myself and my images to a Lightroom database.

All purchases are ultimately a balance between what the customer wants, and the company is willing to give them, for the money. With this latest move, it feels to me like that balance has been lost: the move favors Adobe much more than it benefits me.”

—Butler, Richard, ‘RIP Lightroom 6: Death by subscription model’, DP Review

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