Adobe CreatePDF Subscriptions: Why?

I was reading a PDF this morning and noticed a new button in the latest version of Adobe Reader: “Convert file to PDF using Adobe CreatePDF online.”

“Oooh,” I thought to myself, “Has Adobe finally provided us with a free and convenient way to create PDF documents??”

I promptly directed my browser to Google and searched “Adobe CreatePDF” and clicked the first result. At the top of Adobe’s landing page, there’s a button to “Create a PDF now” that takes you to… their subscription page? Really?

I guess this isn’t surprising, but it is disappointing. The list of features provided include converting Word DOCX files and Excel XLSX files. Of course, both Word and Excel come with this capability built-in via the Save As command, so these features merely provide me with a less convenient way to convert my Office documents to PDFs.

Maybe this would be good for a non-Officer user who needs to view Word and Excel documents, though? Not in my opinion. opens these file types and lets me do the same conversion via its Export function. This is actually how I used to create PDFs before Microsoft included the capability into Office. Google Drive (formerly Google Docs) also lets you download copies of files as PDFs.

If you are going to charge for this — which, clearly, you are — why not make it more affordable? $89.99 annually seems pretty steep, especially if you compare it to products like Adobe’s own ExportPDF which allows you to go the other direction, converting PDFs to Word or Excel for just $19.99 annually. I wouldn’t be interested in paying a one-time fee of $89.99 for this, and, frankly, ExportPDF seems like the more valuable of these two products!

So who is this product’s target demographic? I simply can’t come up with a reasonable answer. To me, this represents Adobe preying on users that either don’t realize this functionality already exists in the latest versions of Office or aren’t resourceful enough to use free alternatives like and Google Drive. If this had been a free offering, I’d be writing a different article praising Adobe for making this available. Users needing to create professional-grade PDFs are still going to purchase licenses for Acrobat, so why not just make this available for the non-professionals to keep PDF adoption and accessibility rates high? Maybe I’m failing to pick up on the key features or benefits, but I simply don’t get it. Am I missing something here?!


Author: Adam Prescott

I'm enthusiastic and passionate about creating intuitive, great-looking software. I strive to find the simplest solutions to complex problems, and I embrace agile principles and test-driven development.

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