Adobe has transformed itself into a subscription-only service in recent years — a move that has unfortunately been incredibly successful for the company, translating into sales growth expected to more than double this year, with the stock up 700 percent since 2012. Having convinced corporate America to shuck out huge amounts of money for rented software, the company is targeting hobbyists and individuals. Whether these products represent good deals or not depends a great deal on the specifics of your work flow. Generally speaking, unless you have a pressing need to be on the latest and greatest version of an application or a huge need for cloud storage, software rental is only a good deal for the company — not you.
The major question for Adobe is whether it can pull off the wholesale redesign of Photoshop’s UI required to shoehorn it into a touch-driven device like the iPad. This is no small task. If I asked you to make a list of Adobe’s most prominent UI characteristics, “intuitive,” “friendly,” and “touch-capable” are not going to be on the menu. Adobe programs follow their own internal logic seemingly dreamed up by HP Lovecraft after dropping acid. I’m not saying Adobe can’t build a touch-friendly UI that crams all of the tremendously powerful capabilities of Photoshop into a mobile form factor, but it’s going to have a heavy lift doing it.
Creators will be able to start work on an iPad and then move to a different device, similar to the continuation features Microsoft has baked into Windows 10 and its related software. The move will also hit one of Microsoft’s core claims against the iPad — where the Surface product family can run applications like Photoshop, the iPad hasn’t had access to the complete version of the software. Going forward, that’s going to change.
And, of course, one could read this transition as Adobe’s subtle move to align its products more firmly with Apple hardware in preparation for a theoretical shift to ARM processors. I’m still not sure what I think of the claims that Apple could shift away from Intel and x86 by 2020 — it’s by no means impossible, but it’s not a straightforward or easy shift, either. This news doesn’t directly support the argument that Apple wants to make a break with Intel — there’s a straightforward case to be made for Adobe improving iPad support and transitioning its products to the kinds of interfaces where customers increasingly want to use them. But if you were looking for proof that Apple might not want to move away from x86, well, this isn’t it either.
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