The math is incontrovertible: at $2,500, Adobe's Creative Suite 3 Master Collection non-upgrade is extremely expensive. However, once you start looking at the cost of the individual pieces of the suite, getting more than two of the major components--say, Photoshop and Illustrator--on their own isn't cost effective, either.
Just those two applications together cost $1,600 for their non-upgrade editions, and that same chunk of change will get you the CS3 Web Premium, which contains Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, Dreamweaver, Acrobat Pro and all the little ancillary apps that Adobe has been giving away.
But let's say you're only interested in editing photos, or you think your copy of Illustrator CS2 will work just fine with Flash CS3, but you need that Flash upgrade? Is there more going on than a new palette layout? Let's break down Adobe's powerhouse gestalt and take a look at the more popular parts that make up the whole: Photoshop for image manipulating and printing, Illustrator for drawing, Flash for animating, and Dreamweaver for designing Web pages.