Adobe on Thursday unveiled the beta of Photoshop Express, a Webtop version of its photo editing juggernaut. Depending on who you listen to Photoshop Express is either a worthwhile contender in a market that includes a bunch of Web photo editing tools or an instant also ran that won't threaten any of the upstarts nibbling at Adobe's heels (Techmeme). Webware's Lori Grunin has a good review of the Photoshop Express beta (gallery at right). Photoshop Express offers 2 GB of storage for free. But there is a bigger picture here. Adobe is trying to tackle multiple fronts with Photoshop Express (see official statement). Among the key motives: Adobe is trying to make the Photoshop brand Webby. Adobe's Photoshop desktop software is a staple among creative professionals. It's also pricey and has more features than any average user can possibly figure out. Express gives Adobe a starter product and the plan is to get folks to trade up to Elements and then the full-blown Photoshop. Grunin writes:
Photoshop Express is two things: a photo-sharing site targeting the millions of snapshot photographers who think software such as Photoshop Elements is too difficult, too disconnected or just too much, and a platform from which Adobe will serve partner sites with editing tools.Photoshop Express just has to be good enough. While Adobe's beta is likely to be buggy it doesn't have to be perfect. All it has to do is be as good as what's out there. This is really about the Webtop. What's Adobe's real game here? Making Flex and AIR the Webtop development standard. Creating Webtop versions of Adobe's staple software is a great way to demonstrate the future of rich Internet applications. Frankly, I wouldn't mind a little more of Adobe's creative suite to be launched in Webtop versions.
It's a mindshare game right now. Adobe's platforms (all resources), which are roughly standards on the Web, are under fire from multiple fronts. Microsoft's Silverlight could be a threat to Adobe's platform. By product line there are always smaller players aiming at Adobe. By launching Webtop versions, hooking into partners like Facebook and being relevant, Adobe can leverage its existing brands. Anyone that has heard of Photoshop--basically everyone--will at least give Photoshop Express a spin.