Adobe is planning to offer Photoshop as an ad-supported online service. Adobe won't say when, but reports suggest it may happen within six months.
"Like any forward-looking software business Adobe is looking at new ways to deliver its technology to the market," said a company spokesperson. "Hosted editions of our award-winning digital imaging and digital video technology are an obvious place to start."
Adobe recently announced a partnership with online photo sharing site Photobucket that involves plans to integrate Adobe's Web-based video editing and remixing technology with Photobucket.
But given the speed at which Google, Microsoft and other companies are moving to develop software-as-a-service, Adobe clearly has to ramp up its efforts to expand, if not transition, its lucrative shrink-wrapped software business online.
An online version of Photoshop should appeal to the average consumer, much as does Google's Picasa or other online photo services. But professional photographers -- the major users of Photoshop -- may not be won over so easily.
"I don't see how it would be very useful," said Jeff Singer, a San Francisco, Calif.-based photographer. "I work with files that are sometimes one or two gigabytes and can't imagine having upload those. Using a Web-based app doesn't seem feasible. Maybe for someone who uses iPhoto."
"[Photoshop] is a huge application, and the way I run it I have a lot of customization and plug-ins from third-party developers," said Robert Houser, a Piedmont, Calif.-based photographer, via e-mail. "I wouldn't be so concerned about Internet speed (bandwidth), most of the time, but performance is a huge consideration. ...Anything that slows me down costs me money, or conversely, anything that speeds up my workflow makes me money."
"I'd also be concerned about the interaction with Bridge -- a huge part of my workflow, and something I use on location and even in the car driving back from location," said Houser. "If one was to be online, the other [person] would also need to be. Without knowing too much about what the benefit would be to an online app, I could postulate that the more useful online program would be Lightroom, [particularly] the database aspect of it. If I could have full access to my archive online from any location, that would be a benefit -- both for myself and for my clients."
Such lack of interest from professionals may not matter given that Adobe is likely to aim its online version of Photoshop at beginners. But it does suggest that the challenge Adobe faces in serving its professional customers online represents an opportunity for a competitor unburdened by a boxed software legacy.