Last week the internet was buzzing with stories and posts about people talking, chatting, and otherwise up in arms about Adobe changing the price of the monthly Lightroom/Photoshop plan from $9.99 to $19.99 per month. So I thought I’d shed some light on some things that you may not think or hear about.

Q. Did Adobe Really Raise the Price?

A. Well… yes and no. There is some truth to the price change, but it’s different than you think. This message came straight from an FAQ from Adobe:

“From time to time, we run tests on Adobe.com which cover a range of items, including plan options that may or may not be presented to all visitors to Adobe.com.”

If you’re not familiar with this marketing / pricing practice it’s called a Split Test or, similarly, an A/B Test. Websites (yes, all of them!) send emails and post various landing web pages that present different information to different people (usually, choice A and Choice B). They then look at this information after a period of time to see what version of the split test performs the best, and usually make decisions on what to do next from it.

So, in a way yes, they did change the price that was presented to some people during this time.

Q. Did Adobe decide to stick with the $19.99 / month price?

A. From the looks of it, no. On any page I go to, and when I google “Adobe Photography Plan”, I can still get to the $9.99 20GB plan that still includes Lightroom Classic, LR CC, and Photoshop.

Q. What gives with the $19.99 price jump anyway?

A. Actually, the $19.99 wasn’t anything new. It’s been there for years. What most people missed about the price was that it was for a plan with 1TB of cloud storage. Mostly for those that use Lightroom CC (with cloud storage) instead of Classic. That same exact $19.99 plan has been in place since 2017 when Adobe first came out with Lightroom CC, and has been on the website since 2017.

If you ever went to Adobe’s website you saw that plan along side the $9.99 plan which included the same programs but only 20GB of cloud storage for those of you that use Classic instead of CC.

Q. Aren’t they horrible for defaulting me to a higher price point?

A. Yeah, because they’re the only company in the world that, when you visit their website, they have multiple price points and the higher one is highlighted, to try to push you toward it 🙂 How could they!?

Q. Are you still able to get the $9.99 price?

A. Yes. Of course. Now, during this whole test I was always able to see the $9.99 price. I’m not sure if everyone was, but the price was always available when I looked. You weren’t forced to buy the 19.99 plan. I also have a link on my website’s gear page that links you to the Photography Plan that I use, and that link still worked the whole time.

Q. What about existing $9.99 / month people? What happened to them?

A. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!! You didn’t receive an email saying that your price was going to go up $10 a month. You didn’t see a new charge on your credit card for an extra $10 a month. Not one thing changed in your world.

Yet, the really interesting thing is that those were the people that were the most angry about all this.

Q. Is Adobe the Only Company That Does This?

Heck no! I guarantee you that EVERY “competitor” company that you say you’re switching to because Adobe is mean and horrible and doubled your price, does this as well. I know it for a fact, because… well… I used to work for one of them… and I’ve seen the emails from others since I’m subscribed under several email addresses.

Yes… every single one of them. You name it. They ALL do Split or A/B Testing either via emails to different groups or with different website landing pages. Next time you’re at a gathering of photographers, ask them how much they paid for said competitive program / plug-in. I’ll bet you any amount of money YOU ALL PAIID SOMETHING DIFFERENT. You have ALL been the subject of price testing by everyone else, and you just didn’t know it.

Q. Why Didn’t I Know This Was Happening?

Because Adobe is the big dog. And the biggest is always being examined closer than the rest. The #1 spot is always the most revered… and often hated, position. It’s just the way life is. The longer any sports team stays on top, the more people hate them right?

Like it or not, it’s fairly fashionable to hate on Adobe right now. I don’t want to get into why, but it just is. People are angry over the subscription model, and there are more competitors out there, so articles that paint Adobe in a bad light are sure to get lots of clicks.

A good example of this is somewhere along the line, a popular plug-in that I’ve used many times doubled it’s price. I know this because I have a receipt from a few years ago, so I know what I paid. How come that didn’t make the headlines? Because the plug-in was small compared to Adobe.

And how about Nik Software? It was free. Yes free!!! Now it costs $69 and the only thing that was changed between the “free” version and now the paid version, is that it was updated to run on newer OS’s and newer versions of Photoshop/Lightroom. No new features… no new interface… it’s not faster or better. You were charged $69 simply to be able to use 7 year old software on your newer OS or version of LR/PS. Where are the articles and hate about that one?

JUNE 2019 UPDATE – Now Nik costs $99 and all they did was add presets. That’s 30% price increase, but where was the internet outrage in this? 😉

Q. Matt, it sounds like you’re pretty passionate about this one?

Someone actually wrote this question to me. I had to laugh, because I guess I am. Now… just know that I make almost $0 from selling Adobe software. I do have an affiliate link to the $9.99 plan, but I never point people to it. I don’t think I could fill a tank of gas with the money I get from that affiliate income each year. So it’s not about me selling software.

I guess I sell training on their software, but I have (and will continue) to also train on other software. So it’s not like this change would hit me personally in the wallet.

To me the real problem is that people are making big decisions based on false information and “click-bait-styled” headlines. Do you really want the hassle of switching software? Is your photography life so boring that you’d like to uproot it, and deal with the headache of moving everything over to something else and the learning curve associated with it?

Other companies are jumping on this and marketing to you based on this false information. I’ve seen multiple emails from companies come in this past week with subject lines and sales tactics that talked about the Adobe “price hike”.

There was no price hike! NOBODY reading this received an email from Adobe saying your price was being changed from 9.99 to 19.99 and to expect to see this in your next billing statement. NOBODY!

Now, did some people who bought the $19.99 plan last week get charged more than you? Yep. But that’s not who the emails were targeting. Price increases happen all the time. Someone who purchased the same car I bought, got theirs cheaper if they bought it 3 years ago right? Should we really expect software prices to go down, when everything around creating that software (salaries, office space, health insurance benefits, equipment, etc…) is going up.

Q. What if I bought the $19.99 plan with 1TB and don’t want it?

That’s super easy. Just call Adobe. Heck, I bet you can go online and change it. But if you can’t just call them. I personally know several people who posted in a FB group I run that did this and Adobe changed them to the 9.99 plan no questions asked.

Q. Isn’t Adobe pulling the old bait and switch with the $9.99 price?

A. Ugh… I’ve been reading this one for 5 years. Yep, they did the whole 9.99 thing 5 years ago and that’s what everyone said. And it’s still here.

SIDENOTE: Isn’t this what Netflix does? I know I get a price hike each year 😉 I used to pay $7 a month, now it’s $15. I know I get much more value from editing my photos than TV shows.

Q. Won’t they eventually increase the price?

Who knows? No company is ever going to publicize they’ll hold a price steady forever. I have absolutely no idea what Adobe plans on doing with their pricing. Would they love to get a higher price? I’m sure they would. No company out there is happy where photo editing software prices are right now. Remember, ON1, PS, NIK, etc.. all used to cost over $500! And now this stuff is all around $70-120. (Except for Capture One which is almost 3 times that. Again… notice that nobody ever calls them out for costing 3x the Adobe yearly subscription? Oh yeah… and they issue a paid upgrade about every 12-18 months too! Have fun saving money there!)

Anyway… as I said, I have no idea what they’ll do. But here’s what I know. Adobe employees are normal people just like you and I (well, smarter than me!), who go to work every day and want to make the best product possible and serve their customers in the best way possible. I’m guessing these really smart people realize that everyone would speak with their wallets if their price changed (doubled) from $9.99 to $19.99 each month. And if they didn’t realize it before last week, I’m pretty darn sure they know it now 🙂

So… imagine you’re this big company with lots of smart people who work there. Would you double their price knowing they were going to ditch you the moment you did? I doubt it.

Now, I can see a day where NEW customers are charged $14.99 or $19.99 for the same plan you have, or where there just isn’t a 9.99 plan available anymore. But I’m guessing (again, I have no idea), that they would do something to grandfather in people currently on the $9.99 plan. Maybe they let them stay at 9.99. Or worst case, maybe announce a phased price increase over time, much like Netflix does.

Final Thoughts…

I realize we’re in a weird time with photo editing software. Many of you rejoiced when Adobe went to 9.99 a month because it was the cheapest software had ever been in history.

It forced competitors to come down in price too, and even undercut Adobe because $10 a month was such a good price. And it’s consistent, so people on a fixed budget can plan for it rather than wondering when they’re going to get whacked for an update.

But at the same time, you had people fundamentally opposed to a subscription software model. And honestly, Adobe didn’t roll it out in the best way. Remember the whole $50 a month thing? Ugh! So there was a lot of experimenting and switching going on. In the end, you all probably spent more money on software than ever.

And all of this led to confusion. And that’s where the educator in me gets in to the game – my whole career is built on trying to un-confuse things, so when I see it, it gets to me. What software do I switch to? How do I switch? Do I lose my edits? Where are my photos? You get an email a day from a competitor claiming to be the best and most modern workflow out there.

So here’s my suggestion. Stop constantly worrying that you’re getting screwed by Adobe. If you chose to go the $9.99 route, be happy and know that you have good people trying to keep you as a customer. If you chose not to go that route, and switch, know that you also have good people trying to keep you as a happy customer.

Stop always thinking there’s something better out there, and you’re missing out. Commit to using what you have.

Understand that when you read an article from the Peta-Stoppers people (or see one that was shared to you in a group), that has some inflammatory title to it, that it’s just that. Click Bait. It’s meant to get you to click on it and ignite the revolt that last week’s articles did. The only people that gained last week were the owners of the websites that posted this stuff. Everyone else just got angry for no reason.

One more Finally…

And finally… demand innovation from any company you go with. Years ago, companies were forced to innovate to differentiate themselves. To try to do something better and different than the other guy.

I feel like those days are fading. Sometimes it feels like every company is being told by its subscription-hating customers that they want an alternative to Adobe. So they’re not innovating. They’re just creating the same old features that we’ve had for 10+ years.

One last thing… comments are deliberately disabled on this one. For starters the last thing the world needs is another 237 comments defending or blasting pricing policies, etc… And honestly, it’s for me too. When I see those comments flare up, I can’ help but getting into the mix and it just sucks away my day 🙂 I want to help people get better at photography and get better at using the software they’ve settled on. And all getting wrapped up in a comment war does is take us ALL away from that 🙂

Thanks and have a good one!


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