Saturday, April 12, 2008

Free Photoshop? In the online world, answer is yes.

A few weeks ago Adobe launched Photoshop Express - a free, web-enabled version of Photoshop.  The service gives the user access to a subset of the Adobe Photoshop suite in their web browser, along with 2 gigs of free photo storage.  So beyond being a really cool resource out there, whats the business reasoning here?
One, I think, is that it provides an easy way for artists to make some quick modifications to their photos, even from computers without photoshop on them.  This makes their brand ubiquitous, its on any computer with web access, and its simple to access.  
The other strong reason is this pushes accessibility to every class of user out there.  And this is going to breed further mobility in their customer class.  Someone starts using Photoshop Express and really likes it.  They may have used tools like Gimp, but the user experience in Photoshop, they find, is so superior.  But working in the browser is kinda a pain, so they look into their desktop offerings.  You see Photoshop Elements, its easier, it has more features, and its not prohibitively expensive.  I don't think Adobe is without motive here, and I think this has to be a huge focus of Photoshop Express.
In fact, I think a strong future business model would be to split Photoshop Express into a free version and an advanced version.  With the advanced version, I wouldn't even let users purchase it.  I'd include it with the CD keys for Photoshop Elements and Creative Studio.  But, whatever the path, I think Express is really a neat idea, and it'll be interesting to watch how it develops over the coming years.  

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