[UPDATE (April 11th) – Adobe CS5.5 is out!]
We just got confirmation from Adobe that a “mid-cycle release” of Creative Suite 5 will be out later this year, perhaps in the coming months.
The definitive word came from a conference call on Tuesday afternoon with financial analysts, where the Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen stated:
We will continue to expand our content authoring offerings by providing a mid-cycle release to CS5.
We’ve known for some time now (see our October piece) that a “dot release” of Creative Suite 5 would be coming and due to incorporate the new version of Acrobat X Pro – similarly to how CS2 and CS3 had mid-cycle upgrades for that exact reason…
But here Adobe has been working quite a bit harder and longer, with no “CS5.3” at the November ship date of Acrobat X… So instead, we have clear indications of a larger upgrade in store – and here’s what’s going to be in it:
I think we’ve been saying for a while that we are hearing from our customers that in order for us to enable them to deal with the multiscreen revolution that’s happening, to deal with all of the multiple formats, we’ve been asked to provide more frequent releases.
Traditionally we’ve added Acrobat because Acrobat is on a different product cycle than Creative, because Acrobat is also used a lot by the Creative community in terms of updating the releases.
The release will enhance our digital publishing capabilities, help customers address the multiscreen challenges they face, and include new innovative features in areas like HTML and Flash authoring, application creation, and video authoring and production.
The release will start to focus on both integration of the Creative Suite with the Digital Publishing Suite. There will be a fair amount of video production features [going in], as well as more capability, both for Flash and for HTML.
So we’re clearly looking at a bigger and more expansive release (more than a .3 point move) – along the lines of a “CS5.5” or similar.
Recently Adobe has also been talking about the possibility of offering subscriptions for Creative Suite software, and that appeared to grow firmer for this next version:
… The real goals for the mid-cycle release are: continue to enhance the functionality, as I mentioned. We have talked about our desire to introduce subscriptions worldwide, which enables us to target the more price-sensitive customers.
This would be in addition to the standard models that we have. We do not expect the mid-cycle release to cause a big shift in how people buy software. It will continue to be predominantly the shrinkwrap and the licensing, and I think we’ll see a nice [addition] through the subscription model.
The goal is to allow new customers to use the Creative products, sort of on a pay-as-you-go basis. And what we found in the early reports is that it’s really valued by customers who seek flexibility and affordability of the monthly payments, and it attracts new customers who otherwise would not buy, [or] customers who haven’t stayed current with CS4 or CS5.
Adobe has already offered subscriptions to CS products in Australia for several years, and seems poised to make the option available on a wider scale.
The last point is, when might this CS5.5 be available? As indicated above, there were no dates or plans given. However, the CEO did say this about Creative Suite development generally:
I think for the amount of fundamental innovation that continues to go in, a 24-month cycle is a good timeframe for us to update most of the customers. But there’s significant value that we can continue to provide on an annual basis, and that really is our goal.
Well, Adobe CS5 was released on April 29th, 2010 – so if we take Mr. Narayen’s statement at face value regarding the annual basis, it could mean we have the possibility to see a CS5 “mid-cycle” upgrade being announced around a year later, or sometime during the spring.
The next question: When is CS6 coming out?
[UPDATE (April 6th) – Looks like CS5.5 will be launched on 4/11! Find out more and see new sneak-peek videos out from Adobe on what to expect…]
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