It's a very good point. You should see the prices we pay at work for GIS licences, or database licencing for our Sites and Monuments Record (and support fees), all on an annual basis per seat. Or the fees we pay to the Ordnance Survey for our base mapping (about £65,000 per annum last time I looked). With Adobe software you get fully functional 30-day trials, public betas, excellent Internet support and a widespread user community, and developers from the company who bother to drop in here and help out. Obviously they are not doing any of this out of a sense of public duty, they need to turn a profit just the same as anyone else. But when a photographer can get pretty much most of the features they need to make a nice print out of PS Elements for about 60 quid here in the UK, I don't see too much to complain about.
Hehe, I had a meeting with a software company, where I outlined (in my professional capacity, see the Ph.D) how the whole core of Photoshop could be redone quickly, a matter of weeks. There were a bunch of people much smarter than me with years in the imaging business present, and they agreed that my method would probably work, in fact we even did back of the envelope time of computation estimations.
So, I don't think that Adobe is raping anybody for price, they are just overpricing because they use PS as a cash cow to finance new acquisitions., in the same way MS used Windows and Windows server licensing to build their company. However with both Adobe and Microsoft, we can see that the excessive pricing is now creating an entry point for technologically savvy competition to provide a large fraction of the functionality (Linux server farms, $200 Linux netooks) for a fraction of the price.
Apple already employ a method similar to the method I suggested, in their graphics software packages . I am sure that Steve would never risk picking a fight over Flash if he didn't already have Pictures ready to launch along Pages and Numbers. After all they did manage to make a nice copy of Lightroom with Aperture - except Steve seems to have a time machine because Apertue arrived quite a bit *before* Lightroom,
PS. Jeff, why don't we dig out some images and put them up for ocnversion here on the forum? We can do a nice little converter shootout where everybody picks his favorite engine to process the files. I will gladly provide some Paris landscape shots from Nikon, Canon and Phase.