Adobe's Acrobat.com could be an Office killer; Will interface matter?

Adobe's Acrobat.com could be an Office killer; Will interface matter?

Summary: Adobe has tied together its online office suite with the beta of Acrobat.com and the user interface is the big differentiator.

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Adobe has tied together its online office suite wacrobat1.pngith the beta of Acrobat.com and the user interface is the big differentiator. What remains to be seen is whether online office users care about aesthetics.

On Monday, Adobe unveiled Acrobat.com, a suite that allows you to create word processing documents, share files, convert PDFs and hold Web conferences.

Simply put, Acrobat.com is the best looking online office suite on the block (Techmeme). Google Docs, Zoho and other entrants look fine, but don't exactly stretch the imagination with the interface. Using Flash, Adobe's suite, which includes Buzzword word processor, PDF converter and Web conferencing applications, is slick. Adobe's online applications easily pass--and often top--what you'd find on the desktop. In fact, Adobe's ConnectNow seems to be the killer app in the suite and could be a threat to WebEx.

Here's Buzzword:

acrobat2.png

And the collaboration tool:

acrobat3.png

And PDF converter:

acrobat4.png

The big question: How much will the interface matter? Adobe's online office suite would clearly win a beauty contest, but it's unclear whether users care. There's something about Google Docs that just works. Ditto for Zoho. What's the lock-in factor here? If I'm using one online office suite I may not try another just because swapping platforms can get confusing if you create a bunch of documents.

We'll see how the answers to those questions turn out, but Adobe has another clear motive here. The online suite is a nice way to show off Flash. In addition, Adobe Acrobat 9, which was announced Monday, includes support for Flash. The goal: Create a defensible software and services strategy that will lead to a virtuous sales cycle among various Adobe products.

Acrobat.com is designed to give Acrobat 9 customers a "personal workspace in the clouds," according to Adobe's statement. You can see where this is headed: For Acrobat 9 customers Acrobat.com (statement) is a hybrid software model to keep them in the fold. Meanwhile, Adobe hopes that Acrobat.com will get a few folks to buy its software.

Acrobat 9 offers native support for Flash, touts document sharing and allows users to manage portfolios of PDFs. All of these features work with Acrobat.com in what Adobe hopes will be a nice sales cycle.

Adobe's Acrobat 9 combined with Acrobat.com seems to hit on multiple goals for the company. All it needs now is the user traction. Adobe's suite certainly has the looks.

Topics: Microsoft, Browser, Enterprise Software

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91 comments
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  • PDF is no good for documents with images

    PDF is no good in handling included image files! So won't use them!
    joemartn
    • re: PDF is no good for documents with images

      PDF is no good for lots of things. As a user on the web, whenever a document I want turns out to be a PDF, it's always so much harder to scan and find the information I want, compared to if it's a plain HTML file. PDF is just good for big manuals. If Adobe is really basing their strategy around PDF I think they will fail because web users don't like PDF documents.

      This article discusses the Adobe user interface and says it's beautiful and slick, but ease of use is a major part of user interface too, and PDF documents are not good for ease of use.
      mitch.gart
      • PDF is fine for ease of use

        If it is written and formatted correctly. Layout is just as important
        as content.
        frgough
    • PDF Built for Graphics and Images

      To say that PDF is not good for documents with images is totally off base. PDF was originally designed for the printing industry to share large files electronically and to ensure that images and document layout were not harmed in the sharing process. If your images are not turning out well in PDF then you are not creating the PDF properly or not creating the images properly.
      scottarrington
    • PDF no good for embedded images?

      Damn! You'd better inform the graphic arts and printing industries of your revolutionary pronouncement. We've been embedding images for over five years.
      professordnm
      • actually

        I'd say closer to 15 - but hey - yoiu can't teach some people
        paulaaa1
        • Obviously...

          ...the user really doesn't have much experience.
          melekali
    • Trolling 101

      rule 1: You should be at least a bit informed about what you're writing, or you will sound just clueless.

      Back to pdf, do you know it has become the vehicle of choice for graphic artists to share, display & sending files to printing, transparently retaining all specs of original (CYMK, fonts, antialasing, etc)? And you think graphic artists uses pdf because it handle poorly images?

      Now back to your cave and try again...

      PF
      theo_durcan
    • What in the world are you talking about ?

      If your are an advertiser and want to submit a internationally run full page color ad (Nike, Ford, Toyota) in one of Time Warners titles (Sports Illustrated, People magazine, etc) - they ONLY accept PDF, and have ONLY been accepting PDF files since 2001.

      They even have a web site that might help you understand how to do that;

      http://www.direct2.time.com/
      michaelejahn
    • PDF is not an editing vehicle!

      PDF is only intended as a printout analog. It will display a finalized document exactly as you would print it out. It is not designed for editing.

      The publishing & legal industries use PDFs because they cannot be altered & preserve the appearance of the original for sharing without allowing any further changes.

      If you want to edit a document, go to the software you originally created it in. If it is someone else's document, get a copy of the file from them.
      ljl9
      • PDF is not an editing vehicle!

        PDF's are not designed for editing, but anyone who relies on that alone to preserve the integrity of their documents, in the publishing, legal or any other industry deserves everything that happens to them.
        sumnerp
      • No Doubt!

        I challenge anyone with a different opinion to try to use Adobe Pro to create anything at all. This software is not word processing software. It's more like template creating software for master forms and other stuff. Otherwise, it is a fabulous format to convert into, being still the standard on the web.
        melekali
    • Learn to use it!

      So you won't be left out of the tech revolution!
      legamin1
    • PDF is no good for documents with images

      Oh pardon me... I must have been dreaming the several years I was working for a commercial printing house and newspaper company. PDF can do a lot of things with images, and actually, is the best way to send artwork (including full page images, text, etc) to a printing agency.

      Sure... once you make it into a PDF users would need Adobe Acrobat (with plug-ins) to manipulate it etc, but how else can you guarantee what you send is exactly what the user's will see? Platform and font independent.
      NKX
    • Illustrator imports PDF with images

      Have you ever sent a document to a printing press? You can send, for example, an Illustrator document with images embedded (or linked, for which you must supply the images), and you can even send a PDF, which the printers can open and edit, if necessary. I am not referring to simply printing on paper; this also applies to silk screen printing on CD's ... try producing a CD and having DiscMakers press/print it and you'll see what I'm referring to.
      davidr69
    • Do you mean if settings are allowed to downsample

      the image quality for size considerations, . . . before all the kind folks here take their adobe swords to you? Image quality can suffer if settings for things like a PDF writer are allowed to create a document that reduces the quality of color, black and white or gray-scale images. I'd hope Adobe's sweet suite would make that transparent to the end-user. Nothing like going all out on the design and layout aspects to have the finalized work look distorted or less than resolved to image resolution . . .
      Boot_Agnostic
    • Sorry, Your Opinion does not Agree with Industry

      As an IT pro, I routinely convert simple JPG images to PDF format because I prefer the interface which is far better than alternatives. PDFs with mixed text and pics? They work just fine. I don't know what software you are using, but saving in PDF is most definitely a preferred method for this IT pro.
      melekali
  • Buzzword has Linux Support!!!

    Has preliminary support for Linux. It appears you have to build the SSL libraries for flash. No big deal, it's just a cut and paste into a terminal and 30 second build time. Adobe should include a small script to handle the process in the future for the command line challenged.
    MisterMiester
    • Oh dear .... shame

      What a shame it supports Linux. All that GUI beauty will be wasted on the sandals nerds !

      Never mind maybe Adobe could write a SCIFI flash movie that turns into a $ prompt at the end ?
      paulaaa5
      • I suppose you'd be happier if...

        The SciFi flash movie turned into a C:> prompt at the end.

        ttfn

        John
        TtfnJohn