|Adobe’s New Creative Suite – Strengths And Challenges|
"Adobe’s interim release of its flagship Creative Suite product, just announced, shows where the company is going – much more designed towards mobile devices – and how far it has to go, in terms of managing increasingly complicated release cycles and transitioning to more online services.
Creative Suite comes in various configurations, which Adobe sells at list prices between $1300 and $2600 each. It includes products like Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, Acrobat, and Dreamweaver, for creating documents, Web pages, and content for mobile devices, among others. It also integrates with Adobe’s increasingly important online behavioral monitoring and analysis business, which it picked up with the acquisition of Omniture and other companies.
Reflecting how much stuff this is to manage – there were lots more pieces I didn’t mention – Adobe is changing its product release cycles from every 18 months to every two years for major upgrades, with annual midcycle tweaks. Thus, the new Creative Suite goes from CS5 to CS 5.5.
CS 5.5 reflects the explosion of Internet-connected mobile phones and tablets, and is supposedly able to “create, deliver, and monetize for any device,” particularly stuff running off Research in Motion, Google’s Android, or Apple’s iOS. A new software development kit, Adobe says, should allow for faster migration from existing apps to mobile iterations. It also enables visualization on different devices before publication, as well as tools to tweak look and feel to the different strengths of each product, and other software to analyze and target behavior and ads.
By the end of 2011, Adobe said, more than 131 million smartphones will have Adobe’s Flash Player installed. In addition, the company promises improved video capabilities, and improved features in its Dreamweaver Web design product for the forthcoming HTML5 Internet standard.
Looking to increase the number of developers, Adobe is also offering CS 5.5 in a subscription edition for the first time, with monthly costs between $35 and $95. This is not a cloud-based service – that would be a lot of complexity to manage, for Adobe – but one that is downloaded to a Mac or PC from Adobe, with the servers checking in to make sure payments are made.
It is impressive stuff, considering how much Adobe, a traditional packaged software company, has to contend with in a world exploding in both devices and experiences. Increasingly, design and user experience are hard to separate from programming in the online world – and you can throw marketing in there too, as tracking tools enable faster changes in ad formats (you stress what works, right?).
Adobe is doing its best to serve that mess – excuse me, new paradigm – with a product that is still comprehensible. Not easy, you can see why the major release cycle might need to grow. And while the subscription model is a welcome addition, it is still far from where Adobe wants to go – a shop that provides design on the fly as well. With both IBM and HP eyeing the space (dang, I still think someone could buy Adobe to get in the game), the urgency isn’t going away."