Adobe's current Creative Suite will be the last you can buy. Very soon you will not be able to go into a store, real or online, and buy a licence for the number one creative tool. Instead Adobe has taken its tools into the cloud and in doing so moved to an entirely subscription based model.
I believe this is a piece of genius - but not for the reasons that have been variously bandied about on the web. Reducing piracy is a side benefit, it isn't the main driver. Remaining relevant as the world moves to a new computing model is.
Moving to subscriptions removes the high barrier of entry to the Adobe world for students, small businesses and even expanding business adding more seats. For these users getting the tools they need without a large upfront capital investment makes sense. Ongoing costs can be met out of revenue streams, generated, hopefully, from using the tools themselves. Customer billing can better reflect the cost of the tools too.
For Adobe it means that it has an ongoing revenue stream. Currently the CS Master Suite runs to around US$2,600. Set against the US$49 Creative Cloud monthly fee that doesn't look like a great move - 50+ months to achieve the same income.
However that lower barrier to entry should mean more users on the Adobe platform.
It will also free Adobe from the tyranny of having to release regular version upgrades to keep that income flowing. Small feature upgrades can be released as and when ready. At the risk of stagnation, Adobe doesn't have to keep chasing its developers for those headline new features that drive adoption of a big bang new release.
Finally it allows Adobe to move beyond desktop users and deliver its software to new classes of devices - we've seen smartphone and tablet versions of some apps already. At a time when PC sales are dropping and no-one really knows what the future of computing looks like, being able to offer app portability to users de-risks things for Adobe and its customers.