Today Adobe reported its second quarter financial performance for the 2013 fiscal year, including revenue of $1.011 billion and non-GAAP earnings per share of $0.36. Analysts had predicted that Adobe would earn $0.34 per share on revenue of $1 billion.

Adobe has exceeded expectations, and both Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen and CFO Mark Garrett cited Marketing Cloud as major reason for the company’s positive results. In regular trading, Adobe was essentially flat on an up market day. In after hours, the company is up by 4%.

Adobe ended Q2 with 700,000 paid Creative Cloud members, a nice improvement from Q1’s 479,000 subscribers. Net income was $76.5 million on a GAAP basis, and Adobe Marketing Cloud quarterly revenue was $229.6 million with bookings up 25 percent. Adobe also shared that its Digital Publishing Suite platform has passed 100 million publication downloads.

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All in all, Adobe saw relatively impressive results in the context of expectations, but on a year over year basis, the company has declined. In Q2 2012, the company brought in $1.124 billion in revenue and $0.60 non-GAAP earnings per share. Now, let’s get to why this happened.

Adobe’s Fight for Subscribers

Both Adobe’s public image and business model are in the middle of a major transition. In 2012, the company announced Creative Cloud. One year later —and nearly ten years after introducing its Creative Suite — Adobe announced that it would shift entirely to a subscription-based model. As of yesterday, things have come full circle: Adobe released its Creative Cloud-only suite of apps and services to the public.

It’s up to Creative Cloud subscribers to keep the company afloat.

The core reasoning behind this change is simple. Adobe believes trading steeply priced and irregular software purchases for predictable monthly fees will stabilize its income. In the long-run this is probably true, if Adobe’s users don’t revolt, but in the short-term, the company is bound to see a decline in incoming revenue.

And decline it has: last quarter Adobe beat street estimates, but brought in approximately $37 million less ($1.008 billion) on a year over year basis. Once again, this wasn’t surprising, but it’s something Adobe must turn around in 2013 or else shareholders will push back.

With its new subscription model in full swing, Adobe’s CS6 sales will surely decline rapidly. It’s up to Creative Cloud subscribers to keep the company afloat.