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The Curious Case of Adobe's Almost-Good Move

The Curious Case of Adobe's Almost-Good Move

News broke -- and was quickly debunked -- that Adobe was allowing free downloads of CS2. Had the move been deliberate, "it would have given Adobe the option of targeted advertising to those users, as well as given them better visibility into who's using their software," said blogger Linux Rants. "On top of that, it would be a great way to keep people using Photoshop instead of moving to other great products, like GIMP."

By Katherine Noyes LinuxInsider ECT News Network
01/14/13 5:00 AM PT

Well, CES has come and gone for another year, and not a moment too soon! One more new phone announcement, and Linux Girl's head would have surely exploded.

There's no doubt it was a mad, mad week -- so wild, in fact, that a curious event occurring outside CES could have escaped the notice of more than a few observers.

It may not have been announced with fanfare at a booth in Las Vegas, but Adobe's latest maneuver managed to attract considerable attention nonetheless.

'Free to Download'

"Adobe have apparently made Photoshop, along with several other Creative Suite 2 applications, free to download," read a Monday story at OMG!Ubuntu! on the news. "Details of why the company are offering the applications for free, or how long the gesture will last, are currently unknown.

"But for now at least, Photoshop CS2 can be downloaded legally for zilch," the story read. "And the best bit? Photoshop CS2 will even run on Ubuntu."

So enthusiastic was the response that numerous earthquake reports were mistakenly filed throughout the Linux blogosphere as enthusiasts galloped over to Adobe HQ for their own free copy.

The virtual ink had barely dried on reports of the news, however, when the dream was brought to an abrupt end.

'You Have Heard Wrong!'

"No, You Can't Download Adobe CS2 Applications For Free" was the title of the Forbes story that brought so many hopes crashing down later that day, and it included commentary from Adobe itself.

"You have heard wrong!" Adobe scientist Dov Isaacs reportedly wrote. "Adobe is absolutely not providing free copies of CS2!"

The overall result? A collective "D'oh!" from bloggers far and wide -- not to mention, potentially, a loss in karma for Adobe itself.

Down at the blogosphere's seedy Punchy Penguin Saloon, bloggers haven't been shy with their opinions.

'A Great Way to Keep People'

"When I first heard about this, I thought that Adobe had finally done something smart," began Google+ blogger Linux Rants, for example. "It's a great idea to get your software into the hands of people that probably wouldn't have bought it otherwise."

Had the move been deliberate, "it would have given Adobe the option of targeted advertising to those users, as well as given them better visibility into who's using their software," Linux Rants explained. "On top of that, it would be a great way to keep people using Photoshop instead of moving to other great products, like GIMP."

For most users, GIMP offers "all the capability they're ever going to need, and at no cost," he added. "Maybe instead of this story being about how Adobe almost made a good move, it should be how Adobe almost matched the price of their competition. Almost."

'Absolutely Bizarre'

Indeed, "from the viewpoint of someone using Free Software, Adobe and M$'s business model is absolutely bizarre," blogger Robert Pogson concurred. "Those two have to convolute everything to wring every last cent from their products one way or another."

With the "on-again/off-again free download of CS2, Adobe shows that even they don't understand their licensing schemes," Pogson added. "We should not hurt our heads trying to figure out what we can do with Adobe or M$'s software. That makes us voluntary slaves.

"Free people use Free Software because it simplifies IT," he said. "If you have the software, you have permission to use it."

'Just as Incompetent as Ever'

Hyperlogos blogger Martin Espinoza had a similar take.

"Am I the only one reminded of the opening events of the movie Tron: Legacy?" Espinoza asked Linux Girl. "Except of course, instead of declaring it to be intentional and gaining goodwill, Adobe declares it to be an error and convinces everyone that they are just as incompetent as ever.

"I suppose they're not really losing anything; we already all know they're incompetent; what's one more piece of evidence?" he concluded.

'Free' v. 'Free'

"Adobe desperately needs new management," consultant and Slashdot blogger Gerhard Mack agreed. "I can't imagine how much time they're wasting with people in charge who can't honestly seem to come up with a plan and stick with it."

Indeed, "if they really wanted to make an impact they'd release a stripped down PS that would run on any version of Windows or Linux and then allow the user to buy features a la carte," Slashdot blogger hairyfeet suggested.

"It turns out that Adobe simply couldn't figure out what it was doing," Google+ blogger Kevin O'Brien noted. "They never intended to offer anything free."

Of course, "even if they had, 'Free as in beer' is not the same as 'Free as in freedom'," O'Brien pointed out. "I did not rush to download CS2 because that is a difference which is meaningful to me.

"I would rather use free software to do what I need, and then give them some support (including money), than use an unfree product that comes no charge," O'Brien concluded.


Katherine Noyes has been writing from behind Linux Girl's cape since late 2007, but she knows how to be a reporter in real life, too. She's particularly interested in space, science, open source software and geeky things in general. You can also find her on Twitter and Google+.


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