Due to some strange coincidence, in May we witnessed two announcements by big corporations that created quite a bit of stir in the photographic community. We are now a few days into June, few weeks removed from these events, and that gives me a little bit of much needed perspective to comment on them.
For those of you who may not know the details: Adobe announced that they would stop releasing stand-alone versions of Photoshop. They said that Photoshop CS6 would be the last release with perpetual licence. After that, if you want access to future versions you will have to buy a Creative Cloud subscription, which for many people, dramatically increases the cost of using Creative Suite including Photoshop. Depending on the option, it could cost you between $20 to $70 a month. I will share my thoughts on this in the near future.
Then a couple weeks later, Yahoo announced a new and improved version of their popular photo site: Flickr. The new, “awesome”, site unleashed a fury of negative comments from Flickr user community. The situation was made even worse by comments that Yahoo’s CEO, Marissa Mayer, made about professional photographers. She said: “There is no such thing as a Flickr Pro because with so many people taking photographs there is really no such thing as professional photographers any more”. She later apologized and explained that her remark was in relation to 1TB space offered by “new” Flickr. Fair enough but many people were fuming already and the damage was done.
So, how these events are linked together ? It is in the way how a big portion of both companies’ customers responded with outrage and fury. Flickr blog announcement of “A better, brighter Flickr” http://blog.flickr.net/en/2013/05/20/a-better-brighter-flickr/ generated, in my estimate, close to 30,000 mostly negative responses in less than a week (see here: http://www.flickr.com/help/forum/en-us/72157633547442506/). After just a few days, the feedback page was closed so no more comments could be added. Seems that this was the only way to stop negativity. Similarly, in opposition to Adobe’s announcement, there were many angry comments in the blog world and also the petition was started on Change. org (https://www.change.org/petitions/adobe-systems-incorporated-eliminate-the-mandatory-creative-cloud-subscription-model). As of June 8, 2013, a month after the announcement, it gathered almost 30,000 signatures under the letter to Adobe execs. To be fair, the response to Creative Cloud was not as uniformly negative as the one to Flickr changes. There are many people and businesses for whom the new subscription model makes a lot of sense but on the other hand, many Photoshop users are quite unhappy.
When you read comments of those disappointed you notice that a certain common thread emerges. People are pissed not by the fact that the changes were introduced but by the fact that they were forced to go with the “new and improved” model without: a) being asked whether they wanted to; and b) having an option to chose which model they preferred. Yes, I get the notion that both Yahoo and Adobe are private enterprises in the market to make money and they can do what they want but it is quite astonishing to see big, global corporations managing to piss off thousands of their paying customers in such a short period of time. They are not alone though. You could add Microsoft to this group for the way they introduced the new user interface in Windows 8, Apple for switching from matte pro monitors to a glossy finish or for failing to upgrade Mac Pro in timely fashion. The list could get quite lengthy here. It will be fascinating to watch what both Adobe and Yahoo are going to do in the near future in reaction to the feedback. I’m sure the story does not end here.
About the image at the top of the post: it was taken from the top of Mount Nemo, which is actually part of the magnificent Niagara Escarpment that stretches for over 500 km from Niagara Peninsula to the top of Bruce Peninsula in Tobermory. It is located within the borders of Burlington and offers some interesting vistas of southern Ontario landscape. On a bright, clear day you can see the tallest buildings in Toronto, some 45 km away to the East. The only problem is that there are only a few places where the view is not obstructed by the trees and bushes but still it is a very nice place to visit and photograph.