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Adobe Creative Cloud Adoption Grows to 33 Million Paid Members

How Many People Subscribe to Adobe Creative Cloud?

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

Per the company’s record 2023 results, recurring revenue in Adobe’s Creative segment grew 12.7% over the past twelve months. In 2022, annual growth was reported as 13.4%, and in 2021, it was 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 2023, this gives an estimated new total of over 33 million subscribers. This is over double the number from five years ago, and up approx. 3.75 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 2024 product line.

With the old 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 eleven 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 seven 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 2024 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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75 thoughts on “Adobe Creative Cloud Adoption Grows to 33 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”

    • To Mike and everyone else using CS6:

      I purchased CS6 directly from Adobe the day it was released. I installed it on my desktop and laptop at the time. I refused to get the cloud for the same reasons you guys have (monthly subscription just to use software you purchased already, non-payment = inability to access/edit files for your clients).

      Every few years I upgraded parts on both my desktop and laptop. None of these upgrades impacted my ability to use CS6. And when those 2 machines needed to be upgraded, I de-activated CS6 and then installed fresh copies on the new PCs. I’ve done this several times over the years with no problem, even when upgrading RAM, motherboard, CPU, GPU and even HDD to SATA SSD and eventually to m.2 nvme.

      Then sometime after Adobe finally ended support for CS6, I upgraded my desktop PC one more time, to an entirely new machine. I deactivated CS6 on my old desktop. Installed a new copy of CS6 on my new desktop.

      Then I got the popup… “The serial number xxxxx is already in use by the maximum allowed computers. You must deactivate another computer or provide another valid serial number…”

      I only had it installed on my current laptop and old desktop. I deactivated it on my old desktop, got the pop-up and was unable to launch CS6. So I tried deactivating it on my laptop too. Now I can’t launch CS6 on my laptop, old desktop or my new desktop!

      I contacted Adobe and they told me they no longer support CS6, so they refused to help me fix this problem.

      This is software I purchased directly from Adobe and they will not do anything to help me because I believe they want to push all old CS6 users like me onto the cloud subscription.

      So my warning to Mike and everyone else staying on CS6, avoid de-activating your CS6 at all costs. Avoid upgrading anything other than RAM and secondary hard drives (do not replace the hard drive where CS6 is installed) or you will probably be permanently locked out of CS6 like I am.

      I love Photoshop, Flash, After Effects, Illustrator and Dreamweaver. But I hate the Cloud. It is nonsense, a huge waste of money, a huge financial burden to freelancers, hobbyists, students, photographers, videographers, web designers, and all aspiring creatives who actually need perpetual access to creative software without the forever financial burden. Someone above said they are glad they didn’t have to spend $3,000 for the master collection. That person is misguided. Back in the day, you could purchase the full CS1 then next year pay for the hugely-discounted CS2 upgrade edition for people who own CS1. And they also had packages of software instead of the entire collection. So if you are a web designer, it would give you Photoshop, Flash, Dreamweaver and a few other programs for $600. That’s what I did for years. Then when I needed After Effects, I purchased it separately. And back then, Photoshop and CS were not always updated every year. Sometimes a few years would go by before a major upgrade which in turn would add in a ton of new useful features which validates a good reason to upgrade. Like adding support for CMYK color, layers, editable type, GPU support, video editing, smart objects, non-destructive filters, etc. These were all great reasons to upgrade to newer versions of Photoshop and CS over the years.

      That is WAY less expensive than a permanent monthly fee. And mind you this monthly fee is always at the whim of Adobe increasing the amount of this cloud fee for any reason at all. Right now its $55 per month x 12 = $660. After 11 years that would be $7260. But my CS6 was $600 in 2012 and has lasted me 11 years till now.

      In those 11 years has Adobe added anything groundbreaking to Photoshop or CS to warrant a permanent monthly fee? Or do they just roll out a few useless gizmos/filters once in a while and keep taking your money anyway?

    • Yes, the price model is different now than it was ten years ago, but the CS6 pricing was quite a bit higher than you said. The least expensive suite cost $1,299 upfront (= $1,725 inflation-adjusted to today), and the prices just went up from there.

      Customers did have more discretion on how often they upgraded, but upgrading could only happen from within the past three major releases – and the cost would depend on how far back the customer was coming from (e.g., CS3, CS4, or CS5).

      Regarding features, the answers to your last questions are “absolutely yes” and “definitely not”… To contend otherwise is just uninformed and dead wrong. The current suite of Creative Cloud tools have added countless major new capabilities and other significant improvements since CS6. Just the video tools alone are barely recognizable from how they used to be a decade ago. There’s just no comparison.

      And for Photoshop and the rest, we’d never want to go back to using CS6 as compared to CC 2023, which speeds our work considerably. How much is your time worth? And now we have the new AI tools coming, which just make the difference even larger.

      Finally, concerning your issue with reactivation. You would definitely need Adobe’s help with that, as you can’t do it alone. But unfortunately, you were given incorrect information by Customer Service. They do actually still support one aspect of Creative Suite – and that is to reset the activation count.

      Yes, it’s true – Adobe has stated they will assist (only) with this issue when needed. So we’d suggest trying your request again, with a different representative:

      Hope that helps. Best of luck!

  8. Thank you Pro Design,
    Your advice was correct and saved my CS6!!!

    For any CS6 owner who reached the maximum installations due to a dead computer/hard drive or other hardware/software issue that resulted in you not being able to use CS6 anymore, the instructions you gave worked for me perfectly.

    I clicked on the link:

    clicked on the chat bubble.
    Typed into the chat the following word: AGENT

    Then the AI bot asked me what I needed help with.
    I typed in: CS6

    Then the bot asked why I needed CS6 help.

    Then since I purchased CS6 so long ago, I didn’t remember which email address I used during my original purchase, so I told the bot I still needed help (it knew the email I was signed in with now is not the same one I used back then. The one I used back then was from a job I am no longer employed at and don’t have access to that email account anymore).

    Then the human agent pulled up my file and asked what I needed help with. I told him what happened and he asked which email address I used since the one I am signed in with is different. I then gave him a list of all the email addresses I used since the time I made the purchase of CS6, which is roughly 5 different email addresses. One of them was the correct one and then he was happy to help me and within a few seconds he was able to unlock my CS6!!!

    As for your response on the original pricing of CS6, that may have been the correct price for some or most people. But I have been an Adobe customer since Photoshop version 2, long before CS1 and way before CS6. So every year that they offered me discounted upgrade editions or Student editions, I would purchase those instead of the full versions. My original receipt is $599. And I still have my original floppies for the older versions of Photoshop as well as all the original CDs for CS1 through CS6. I even got CS 5.5.

    I think someday I will be purchasing the cloud version of CS as there are some new features that interest me. But for now with inflation still rising and going insane, I need to play it safe with my CS6 and just do research on what new features interest me then weigh those new features against my income and expenses. Maybe if my income increases enough then it will be something to consider sooner. Or if by some miracle the inflation reverses?

    I am an old school Photoshop artist and I am extremely fast at photo editing manually and from what I have seen I do a better job than what I see most of the time in modern advertising (which I assume they use lots of automatic or AI tools to do most of the work I do manually).

    I know some of those new tools will be useful to me someday.

    Thanks again though, you saved my CS6 and for now that saved me a ton of money!

    • You’re welcome! As elsewhere in life, sometimes the first try doesn’t work and you have to give it a couple of shots… But for sure, Adobe is supposed to still provide this one aspect of CS support. So, we’re glad to hear it worked, as promised – and thanks for circling back to let us know.

      Also, note that Adobe has not really raised subscription prices much over the past decade since Creative Cloud was first offered. The cost of the “All Apps” plan when it was launched in 2012 was $49.99/month or US$599.88/year…

      The price in 2023 for the same subscription (but now with more & better apps and services than before) is still: US$599.88/year.

      In other words, U.S. customers can still pay the same as they did 10+ years ago. Meanwhile, total inflation over that period has been over 30%, per the Consumer Price Index.

      In other countries, Creative Cloud subscription prices may have gone up or down depending on how individual currencies have translated to the U.S. dollar over time, which is what Adobe’s accounting is based on.

  9. So, if 33 million are all photo plans for $10/mo then that is $330 mil per mo, or $3.96B/yr. But probably a lot are more than the photo plan so it’s probably much higher than that. We ought to be getting a LOT of high-quality SW development going on for that price.

  10. Does Adobe collect any data on how many of those 33 million subscribe because they feel they are getting good value versus those that subscribe because they really have no choice?

    Subscription versus conscription.

    I really wish Abobe had the same level of confidence in their products that Microsoft has. Adobe switched models because they were not offering enough value in the upgrades, and could no longer earn the purchases.

    Microsoft doesn’t hold its customers hostage. You can still buy a perpetual license if that works best for your business. And if you want a subscription, it’s reasonably priced. And you can switch between. They show respect for their customers.


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