Adobe Creative Cloud Offers Applications, Services, Community
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Adobe Vice President, Product Management Lea Hickman
Adobe Vice President, Product Management Lea Hickman
Cloud computing and software-as-service (SaS) are trending big, and Adobe has hit the sweet spot with both in its Creative Cloud. "Creative Cloud is a major company initiative comprised of three things: applications, services and community," says Adobe Vice President, Product Management Lea Hickman. "The premise is that creative people want to have creative applications. They want services that tie those applications together for designing and publishing content. And they want to interact with a creative community to share ideas and collaborate. Creative Cloud brings that all together and offers it at a low subscription price."

A group of key executives, led by Adobe Chief Technology Officer, Kevin Lynch, began working on the concept in early 2011, says Hickman, beginning with new application ideas and the concept of community. "We wanted to transform what we were doing and the value we were providing to customers," she adds.

Adobe Creative Cloud was initially launched with a collection of Adobe Touch Apps, a collection of software that enables tablets to be part of the creative process. The idea is that Adobe Creative Cloud will be a hub for viewing, sharing and syncing of files created by Adobe Touch Apps and Adobe Creative Suite. The subscription will include 20 GB of cloud storage.

"We are really making sure we can provide core capabilities that have been part of our heritage," Hickman says. "One of the challenges we have now with tablets is that you can't really manipulate a full Photoshop file because it doesn't have the horsepower. While users are excited about using tablets for vector drawings and image manipulation, it's hard to do."

The family of six Adobe Touch apps are designed for the Apple iPad and Android tablets, with the "headline" app being Adobe Photoshop Touch, which brings the power of this well known software application to tablet devices for the first time. In addition to Adobe Photoshop Touch, the first six touch-screen Touch Apps are Adobe Collage, which allows creatives to combine images, drawings, text and Creative Suite files into modern mood boards; Adobe Debut, which is a presentation tool, opening tablet-compatible versions of Creative Suite files; Adobe Ideas, an easy-to-learn vector-based drawing tool; Adobe Kuler, for generating color themes; and Adobe Proto, which enables the development of interactive wireframes and prototypes for websites and mobile apps on the tablet.

With Creative Cloud, Adobe is adding a new business model: Software as Service (SaS), at the same time that it empowers its current clients and new ones with more powerful toolsets on tablets. "If you tie together apps and file-based services, it becomes a powerful tool," Hickman says. "We want people to be able to create anywhere, without giving up the power of what they can create."

By early 2012, Adobe Creative Cloud is expected to include a range of familiar applications, including Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, Premiere Pro, After Effects and new tools Adobe Edge and Muse. Services will include key Adobe Digital Publishing Suite technologies for delivering interactive publications on tablets as well as a tier of Adobe Business Catalyst for building and managing websites. Adobe will also provide new design services including the ability to use cloud-based fonts for website design, which Adobe will soon be able to offer via its acquisition of Typekit Inc. Adobe Creative Cloud will also provide a forum for the creative community to gather.

With regard to the publishing tools, Hickman notes that publishing has become an important part of Adobe's overall strategy. "One of the things we've learned over the last year is that users don't just want to create, but publishing is a critical part of what they want to do," she says, citing the role that Adobe played in 2010 to bring Wired magazine to the iPad. "Doing the design work wasn't enough was what we discovered. The publishers wanted more of a partnership to get their content to the end destination and that proved to be a pivot point for us. If we can help users design and publish, it's beneficial for us. We can offer these capabilities on the cloud and be on a faster innovation cycle to bring real capabilities into the hands of users."

Hickman extends these capabilities to Adobe's TV/film media partners. "It's the same for individuals, agencies, media companies across all our core customers," she says. "It becomes a powerful ecosystem in terms of services they can offer companies and the network they create."

The acquisition of Typekit fits nicely into Adobe's strategy. The company has a huge library of fonts available to designers and developers as a subscription-based cloud service. Among Typekit's 250,000 customers are The New York Times, Conde Nast, IGN and many others.

Typekit Web Interface
Typekit on the web

Hickman points out that "typography is a fundamental design element." She adds, "It's something that designers want to be more creative with on websites, especially as these websites now need to be viewed on mobile devices."

Although Adobe's Creative Cloud, at first blush, appears to be aimed more at the publishing market than the professional film/TV market, it's also a clear indication of the way tools will be delivered and used in the future: in the cloud, as a subscription service. Adobe sees the future, and it is on a tablet, on the move, and integrates all kinds of still and moving media, fonts, collaboration and community. That's food for thought as we all grapple with the ways our own jobs, companies and media will evolve.