Adobe Systems Inc. is going all-in on a software as a service (SaaS) business model for its suite of heavy-lifting creative tools, announcing today at its Max conference in Los Angeles that it is replacing its nearly 10-year-old Creative Suite with a greatly expanded version of Creative Cloud, the subscription product it first unveiled about a year ago.
The updated Creative Cloud offering amalgamates Adobe’s full collection of more than 30 tools and services, including the company’s flagship products Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Dreamweaver, making them all available through a small-business-friendly monthly subscription starting at about $50, with individual apps available for as little as about $20 per month.
Creative assets can be stored, synced and shared through Creative Cloud so they can be accessed by multiple users across Mac OS, iOS, Windows and Android devices. One-click installation of individual applications, all re-christened with a “CC” slug after their names, makes it simple for designers to download and start using the complete Adobe library.
“It’s like having an app store (at your fingertips) except that you already own all the apps,” said Adobe vice president of products Jeff Veen.
The new product also incorporates Behance, the designer-friendly social network that Adobe acquired in December, allowing creatives to share their concepts and finished products with a broader community. As David Wadhwani, the head of Adobe’s digital media business unit put, it, “In today’s world, why limit your collaboration to people you already know?”
Individual products within the new suite had their own powerful new features debuted during the morning conference keynote. Photoshop, for example, now incorporates a powerful new capability that allows images to be manipulated in non-destructive fashion in RAW mode, allowing designers to eliminate camera shake, sharpen individual image elements, lighten specific areas of under-exposed images and even to straighten perspective on images and to do it all seamlessly within existing Photoshop workflows.
Libraries of more than 700 fonts in more than 175 font families will be available in Illustrator, while potent new type manipulation tools will allow designers to move, scale, and rotate text characters. Photoshop capabilities are being integrated with Edge Reflow to allow new Web designs to be built in Photoshop and then easily turned into responsive HTML pages.
Today’s big announcement from Adobe, one that came as a surprise to conference attendees who were expecting the company to roll out version 7 of Creative Suite, not only signaled the company’s wholesale move to a subscription business model; it also emphasized Adobe’s commitment to the creative and design community. Whereas previous editions of MAX were more developer-focused, this year’s conference was clearly catering more to designers, with more than half the attendees coming from this community and with a half-acre of screens inside the keynote venue showing some of the most popular designer portfolios from Behance as attendees gathered for the keynote.
In one of the more popular parts of the keynote, Adobe teased us with previews of concept products still in development. One, dubbed Project Mighty, is a “cloud-based pen” that marries the control and immediacy of pen-and-paper sketching with the shareability and convenience of software. Another, Project Napoleon, is a 20-cm long tool that, when laid down on a responsive screen, acts like a set square or a protractor, allowing a designer to make add precise lines and curves to a virtual image.
In the most ambitious demo, the company literally rolled out Creative Context, a multi-screen and surface replacement for the analog editing rooms still used by magazines like Wired, which is collaborating with Adobe on the project. Images were sent flowing across the screens with simple touches and “thrown” across screens or even from screen to surface with Minority Report-like gestures.
Adobe said Creative Cloud will be available next month.