Photoshop Online, Good or Bad Move


PhotoShop online

Adobe have been waving this about for a while. The proposal to take Photoshop and convert it into an online application like Google Docs (Writely anyone). When I first heard of this I thought there is no way Adobe are going to be able to take the complete breadth and power of the full version of Photoshop and put that into a javascript or flex modular application with server side extensions. I rolled my eyes and muttered “we shall see”.

Well it’s all over the media, for example on Techcrunch. From these preview pictures, we can see it appears that this will indeed be a cut down version of Photoshop and not the desktop resource hog that we are all used to. So we have a very focused online photograph editing application, aimed at the non professional. Really this is nothing new. Previously we have had a few online applications like:

  • They offer basic photo editing and graphic element generation. It’s a simple online Flex application, lacking a few features, like a zoom.

  • Picnik

    This is a very easy to use online application. Interface wise, it’s not too bad. It’s aimed like most of these applications at the non-professional. And that said it’s approach on certain functions maybe annoying to a photoshop bigot (like me). In general a good example of a Flex application.

  • Picture2Life

    Some applications just don’t work on a interface basis. This is one such application. The interface still needs a little work. On the up side it’s very feature packed, with options for animations and the like.

  • Preloadr

    If don’t have a Flickr account, don’t bother, simple. Some of the functionality could be streamlined. It’s functions are simple and frankly a little lacking.

  • PXN8

    Some nice features, the cropping is not to my personal taste, but the zoom function was well presented. Over all functional, but not pretty.

  • Snipshot

    This application has a pretty interface. But that doesn’t mean it’s a good application does it. Seems again to be another application that is lacking a few features, but it has potential.

  • FotoFlexer

    A straight forward photo editing tool, usual photo manipulation functions. What sets this Flex application apart is the fact that it uses layers, and seems to have some type of artificial intelligence component built into the editing features.

But after all the hard R&D work in the wild that has been done by all these online photo-editing startup within the Flex platform space, along comes Adobe to reap rewards of all this work, and “flex” its marketing muscle. However it’s not going to be the small guys that Adobe is looking at. It will be Google, having Google considering seriously moving into this online application space, could see Adobe left only on the desktop and out of the online world. This is a mistake all too many companies have made in the past (eh Microsoft, Corel, Lotus/IBM, Novell).

So Adobe is putting out an online Flex version of Photoshop, making it free, but advert sponsored. Offer an upgrade path for the corporate sector too I bet. They’ll get lots of exposure with a free product. Get the Photoshop brand out of the design studios and into the general corporate offices, the home offices and schools for very little cost. Perfect marketing, get the world using your online application, on your servers, under your terms. I can imagine Adobe wants the Photoshop brand = photo editing, like MS-Word = word processing.

Still I can see that the smaller startups will not be happy at all, especially now it seems to be more than hype. What do you think? Are these online applications a real workable alternative or just a cut down toy?

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  1. Fauxto does have zoom, and layers, and anti-alias type, and layer filters, and a whole lot more. It’s definitely worth checking out, especially since they keep updating with improvements.

  2. Fauxto is very frustrating to use – lots of rough edges.

    Fauxto has exposes layers. FotoFlexer does not. It probably uses them. I suspect Picnik does too.

    I think Adobe will have some catching up to do.

  3. Ultimately, Adobe will probably win the “hearts and minds” battle in the online application space primarily because it already is synonymous with photo editing. The term ‘photoshopped’ has entered common usage in much the same was as “googled”. The casual user (as you point out) already has plenty of options open to explore online right now. Whether today’s users of those services stick with them when Adobe’s offering goes live is questionable.

  4. I’ve always found that possessed all the features I needed in an online image editing tool 😉

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