Keeping the brand - and verb - alive

photoshop  (v.) "to edit an image using a computer program," 1992, originally in ref.

photoshop  (v.) "to edit an image using a computer program," 1992, originally in ref. to Photoshop, a bitmap graphics editor trademarked and published by Adobe, released in 1990. --- Dictionary.com

There aren't many brand names that can take on verb status but Photoshop, a pioneer in digital imagery manipulation, was one that locked it in early. That, of course, was a time when the professionals ruled the market - photographers, web designers, engineers. among others. It was before the consumer went digital, before camera phones and MMS, before Flickr, iPhoto and Snapfish.

Today's digital photo market is different and the choices in where and how we manipulate, organize and store digital photo libraries are plentiful. That crowded field doesn't necessarily mean that the professionals will suddenly abandon Photoshop as their preferred piece of software. But it does mean that Adobe will have to tackle the consumer market almost as if it were a startup.

This week, the company announced a new suite of consumer products that should be available in about a month. It includes a revamp to its desktop software, called Photoshop Elements, a new look and name for its Web-based product, now called photoshop.com, and a new mobile product that will make its debut. But here's where Adobe pushes itself ahead of the crowd - synchronization. Via the Web, the three products are all connected to each other. If I shoot a pic with my cell phone, I can upload it instantly and have it appear online at photoshop.com, where it will then sync to Elements so I can spend more time later editing it.

I'm most excited about giving the mobile product a test run. The mobile experience for photos still has room for some improvement and Adobe could potentially gain some ground on that front. But previews hint that the mobile version will be a skeleton piece of software - upload, view thumbnails and check out your own photoshop.com albums. Nothing special - or even basic - like tagging or captioning. That's too bad because you don't want a brand like Photoshop to come out of the gate as a letdown.

Here's what I'd like to see from Adobe: incorporate some basic editing tools - things like brightness adjustments, basic cropping and so on - into the mobile version so users can do some quick edits before uploading to the Web. Editing, not organizing, is what turned Photoshop into a brand. If anyone has what it takes to bring photo editing to the mobile platform, it should be Adobe. And, after all, this whole idea of taking pictures with a Web-connected mobile device (not just a phone) is something that isn't going away anytime soon.

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