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Adobe Creative Cloud Adoption Grows to Nearly 30 Million Paid Members

How Many People Subscribe to Adobe Creative Cloud?

Adobe’s Creative Cloud has been available for over a decade now and continues to extend strong adoption in the worldwide marketplace, the latest published figures show.

Per the company’s record fiscal year results out last week, recurring revenue in Adobe’s Creative segment grew 13.4% over the past twelve months. Last year at this time, annual growth was reported as 17.3%. And at the end of 2020, manage­ment said that “the Creative Cloud business has grown ~85%” from 2017, when analysts pegged the number of CC paid subscribers at 12 million.

So, doing the math and updating for year-end 2022, this gives an estimated new total of nearly 30 million subscribers. This is well over double the number from five years ago, and up approx. 3.5 million from last year. Meaning, the run rate of new subscriptions is close to 1 million per quarter – adding an average of ~10,000 net new paid members every day for the CC 2023 product line.

With the older Creative Suite tools, Adobe had an installed base of 12.8 million custom­ers using different CS versions, which had been built up over a decade… The latest Creative Cloud subscription figures show they have more than doubled that customer base in the ten years since CC was first released. This is powerful, because all Creative Cloud subscribers are running and collaborating with the same creative software release, the latest-and-greatest available.

Adobe stopped selling CS6 six years ago, but the Creative Cloud compares favorably on almost all measures and is one of the company’s highest-rated major products ever – likely because it gives access to almost everything they make, all for one simple price with no steep upfront costs.

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From an Adobe quarterly conference call:

In Digital Media, the transition to subscriptions is happening faster than expected. Creative Cloud has become the de facto platform for all creatives, providing the tools and services to fulfill every creative need. We are migrating existing customers from our Creative Suite installed base, as well as attracting large numbers of new users with strong adoption across our Individual, Team and Enterprise offerings.

Continuous innovation is the hallmark of Creative Cloud and the catalyst for our retention and growth. Creative Cloud innovation is forging ahead in the mobile space, where our mission is to help creatives bridge their desktop and mobile design processes into a seamless creative workflow. Our plan to deliver new value through compelling services such as Adobe Stock to augment our desktop and mobile applications is off to a strong start. We will continue to deliver new services, and partner with the broader ecosystem to make Creative Cloud the one-stop shop for creative inspiration.

Highlights in our recent quarter include accelerating adoption of Creative Cloud, driven by strong net new CC subscription additions. Across all routes to market, we continue to see solid demand for Creative Cloud, with large portions of our legacy perpetual customers moving to a subscription model. In addition, we are now migrating significant numbers of hobbyist customers who previously used Photoshop Elements and Lightroom on a perpetual basis to the Creative Cloud Photography offering. And we are seeing on that the vast, vast majority of people who are buying Acrobat DC are buying the subscription option.

Creative Cloud is available in over 90 countries and to get started with all the new CC 2023 tools and services, you can download a free trial instantly here:

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And the following comes from an earlier conference call:

In our Digital Media segment, we continued to make great progress with our Creative Cloud service as customer adoption proceeds more quickly than we anticipated. Subscriptions have grown faster than expected and, as a result, perpetual Creative revenue has fallen off more quickly. In addition to paid members, we currently have millions of customers who are trying out the free service.

In addition to success with Creative Cloud for Individuals, Creative Cloud for Teams also had strong results, growing 62% quarter-over-quarter. Teams and groups of creatives are realizing the collaboration benefits from being on the same version and the ability to seamlessly share files, fonts and preferences, and enterprises are increasing their adoption due to simplified licensing models and integration with Adobe Marketing Cloud’s digital asset management capabilities.

The Creative Cloud offering continues to evolve to ensure that we are satisfying our existing subscribers and attracting new members. In the surveys that we are doing, over 20% of the user base who are adopting the Creative Cloud are completely new customers for us. Last fall, we introduced the CC Photography Plan, providing Photoshop and Lightroom via Creative Cloud to professional photographers and hobbyists at an affordable monthly price. Uptake on this offer has been strong, and we believe adding these users is accretive to our long-term goals.

The company sees further growth ahead:

Our strategic goal continues to be to accelerate adoption of Creative Cloud, and we are focusing all of our innovation there. We’ve added thousands of new and improved features to Creative Cloud since CS6 came out in 2012, which is driving higher customer satisfac­tion. What’s more, we experienced strong retention among individual customers renewing at full price as their introductory promotions expired. And so we’re pleased so far with what we are seeing in terms of renewal rates, which are above what we originally modeled.

It’s nice to see that we’re ahead of the metrics we forecast, not just the annual numbers we provided last year, but the analyst meeting in November 2011 as well when we started this transition. And we reflect that no company has gone through a transition of this magnitude. And for us to be ahead of our goals I think demonstrates the value we’re providing to our customers. And the confidence in both the strategy and our ability to execute enables us to be optimistic about our growth prospects…

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What’s New in Creative Cloud 2023?

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68 thoughts on “Adobe Creative Cloud Adoption Grows to Nearly 30 Million Paid Members”

    • Adobe doesn’t say. Creative Cloud subscribers can run the CC software on Windows or Mac computers, or both (one of each).

      Historically, Mac usage within the Adobe community has been disproportionately high. Meaning, a lot of Adobe creative customers do use Macs, almost as many as use Windows.

  1. Hi,

    We recently moved to CC in our studio (beginning of 2017).

    I also have it at home. For the most part I’m very happy with it.

    However I do have one gripe regarding the pricing:

    CC for individuals in Ireland is €61.49 (annual plan paid, paid monthly)

    CC for individuals in Ireland is €737.85 (annual plan, prepaid)

    The first option above totals €737.88 over the twelve months.

    My question where is the incentive to purchase an annual, prepaid option when you’re only saving 3c?!

    Surely a better option would be:

    Purchase a prepaid option and get say one month or two months free.

    This would greatly incentivise people to purchase a prepaid option.

    Just my 2 (or in this case) 3 cents.

    – James

  2. “Adobe’s Creative Cloud has been available for several years now and continues to gain strong adoption in the marketplace, the latest published figures show.”

    It seemed to be more a panacea for shareholders than a real monument in pushing the creative media industry forward. Please stop doing as such. This is merely a confirming step toward an inevitable Adobe SaaS model that I feel will eventually do away with those silly *classic* apps. Right? No?

    While words like “monopoly” should not be thrown lightly, that’s really all I see when there’s an article lauding Adobe CC growth. Adobe has a established a “cultural monopoly” far stronger than any business model could achieve. One where a “real designer/photographer/UX designer/ Mongolian-lazer-puppet-pantone-designer” ought to be using Adobe.

    To be honest, I’ve grown up with Adobe software; and Macromedia as well. it’s near and dear to my heart. As an industry professional, there’s nothing out there that can lift a finger at Adobe. Then Adobe purchased MM after that convenient UI lawsuit debacle-thing, it was disappointingly clear that the one true rival of Adobe was deleted.

    If I need to do the things I need to do in my profession, I *have* to subscribe to CC in some form. And God forbid if I ever go unemployed for more than 30 days. I’d literally be deadlocked out of approximately 75% of my work files. You know, the ones I’d need access to to, like get another job. But hey, creative professionals never have dry spells, amirite? And to counter with “just go down to the one app for $9.99 argument” just sounds like you’re telling me to go eat cake.

    I didn’t intend to write an anti-Adobe Salamander letter. But I’m just sad to see that to feel I have full control of my work, I need to either go back to CS6 (YES < I HAVE A LICENSE FOR IT) and Windows 7, or dump my 22 years of Adobe knowledge and find other less-draconian applications with more rational models that feels more equitable to both the users and the developers.

  3. @Benjamin P.
    Sorry to inform you, but I have CS6 and NO control over my work. I have created most of the top designs that have became mainstream in the last several years and without ever uploading a file, sharing nor saving it to cloud they still manage to become part of Adobe’s stock images, used on in video games, used for operating systems and the list goes on. 1.02 TBs created since 2010 all of which are making everyone but me money.

    It is in the CS6 license agreement that Adobe collects and can use your work… They have intellectual property lawyers and an agreement that we MUST accept in order to use a product that we pay to use. And no one is regulating much less limiting this “data collection,” so much like me you’re pretty much screwed.

    • Sonya, this is patently false. It’s absolutely not true that Adobe would ever commercially use or sell any customer’s work without their full consent and agreement. It simply does not happen, and is definitely not in the product licensing agreement.

  4. Does Adobe have a breakdown on Apps used? Like how many people use each App?

    IE, 15 million people use Photoshop.

    12 Million Use Premiere, Etc.

  5. I think there is a good chance that numbers may be fudged, Hence adobes lack of openness about the breakdown of its user base.

    If you look at Affinity photo and DaVinci resolve as examples, they have seen a huge surge in users since Adobe went to a subscription base … I suspect many students are being forced to use Adobe premiere when in fact pro studios use better and cheaper software…

    13 million students is easy to achieve, and to say 90% of creatives use their software without a breakdown sounds like a bit of fluff

    If they offered both subscription and perpetual licences, they would probably see a flock of users coming back… but they better hurry as their competition is getting good

    • No, there’s no fudging at all. Adobe’s financials are regularly audited, and they continue to report record sales almost quarter after quarter. The numbers don’t lie:

      Adobe Creative Software Sales Chart (Quarterly)

      For example, they said that ~75% of individual subscribers were new to Creative Cloud, and that cancellation rates were low.

      So no, the company is doing quite well. The more likely explanation is that a rising tide (for creative tools) lifts all boats, and Adobe is the biggest boat.

  6. I am not doubting the sales … I can see they are doing well … I am however doubting the user base … 10 million students for instance is not a true representation of the industry

    Without a real breakdown … hard to tell … Every studio I work with has migrated to other software … if they were open, they would say

    10 million students, etc
    5 million studios & freelancers
    5 Million photoshop users
    4 million Premiere Users
    2 million After effects users
    8 million Stock users

    I don’t hate adobe BTW, in fact love their products … just hate cloud software that ends up owning you and all your files

    • It’s not “hard to tell.” They don’t disclose that information, but they don’t need to. Their revenues don’t come out of thin air!

      The sales are there (and rising strongly), so the customers are there. That’s the bottom line. The proof is in the pudding.

      Are there people out there using other software? Sure, of course. But is Adobe still by far the leader in creative tools? Absolutely, or the chart above would look very different.

      The breakdown is immaterial. And they probably don’t disclose it for competitive reasons, not because there’s anything amiss.

      In our 15 years of covering Adobe, we’ve never seen any breakouts like that. So that’s a nothingburger.

    • We use CS6 to this day and are satisfied with the products. We’d certainly upgrade if we could get a new perpetual license. It would be valuable to get additional licenses too now that we are more mobile. But as you mention, we too will be one to migrate to something else at some point rather than get locked into a subscription-for-life model. Since they have a near monopoly on the market, they were able to force this model on their customers, and once started there is no escaping. So yeah, their numbers are likely to look good for a long time. The “hostage model” certainly has legs. :-)

  7. Your answer tells me everything I need to know about your bias…

    If you look at other companies, they are very open about bestselling products.

    If Premiere was being used by 50 million users, it would be a great advertising point… The fact they don’t disclose more detailed information infers they are having to fudge a bit and use generic terms like the cloud.

    It’s a bit like a car company saying… well we sold a lot of cars… yes sales are up.
    But a better breakdown gives investors a more realistic idea … and shows where the company is falling short.

    The fact that the cloud is near impossible to cancel and all social media has limited public debate, shows to me they are closing down voices of dissent … I have personally been blocked from FB and yet I am a Adobe user.

    • You guys are saying entirely different things. Are they a monopoly, or are they losing to competitors – which is it?

      If people are actually locked in, then how could they lose to competitors anyway?

      If the previous CS customer base had no choice, then why did you?

      And then why are ~75% of individual subscribers new to Creative Cloud? Certainly all those new subscribers had plenty of good alternatives, by your reckoning.

      Sure, Individual product sales breakdowns might be fun to talk about. Adobe has said that Photoshop is their best-selling product, and Acrobat second.

      But as the company has released thousands of improvements to the product line since CS6 and continues to grow sales ~20% each year, Adobe investors haven’t had much to complain about.

      Is it possible you’re just not seeing something? Maybe millions of customers are delighted with their plans, which are far more budget-friendly than paying $2,599 upfront for Master Collection (like the old days)? Again, the company’s sales numbers don’t lie.

      “Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world. – Arthur Schopenhauer”

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