Adobe Systems yesterday launched its ‘Creative Cloud’ initiative at the MAX 2011 technology conference in Los Angeles. It also unveiled a new set of Adobe Touch Apps for content creation on tablet devices, as well as announcing the acquisition of Nitobi, manufacturer of the HTML5 development tool PhoneGap, and Typekit, which produces cloud-based fonts.
It’s also worth noting that Adobe was playing up their ability to also work with stylus inputs, as opposed to finger control. It’s press release contained the forward-looking statement: “With stylus capabilities expected to become a key feature on some next generation tablets…” That’s news to us. However, there was a demo at the event by Samsung, who showcased an as-yet-unreleased 10-inch Android tablet that works with a stylus. Perhaps they are targeted the design community, and trying to muscle in on the ‘graphics tablet’ market dominated by the likes of Wacom?
Speaking at the event, Kevin Lynch, chief technology officer at Adobe, said that the move to the Creative Cloud is a major component in the transformation of the company:
“Adobe Creative Cloud reinvents creative expression by enabling a new generation of services for creativity and publishing, that embrace touch interaction to re-imagine how individuals interact with creative tools and build deeper social connections between creatives around the world.”
Cutting through the flowery wording of its press release, Adobe says that its Creative Cloud is a response to the use of mobiles and tablets in the creative process, and is centred around its new suite of Touch Apps. It says it will become the hub for viewing, sharing and syncing files created by both the new Touch Apps and its existing Creative Suite desktop software packages.
Creative Cloud will be a monthly subscription service, with pricing and launch date still to be announced, and will include 20GB of cloud storage. By early 2012, Adobe says it will include access to its Creative Suite software, specifically Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, InDesign, Dreamweaver and After Effects, as well as the six Touch Apps. It will also access a tier of its Business Catalyst, for building and managing websites; Digital Publishing Suite technologies, for delivering interactive publications on tablets; and new design services, such as the ability to use cloud-based fonts (from its Typekit acquisition).
There’ll also be some kind of online community functionality.
Adobe points out in its FAQ pages that this announcement does not mean that its Creative Suite software will be migrating to the cloud, and neither will the Touch Apps rely on an internet connection to work.
Adobe will provide additional information about its Creative Cloud in early November, and expects membership to be open in early 2012. However, its Touch Apps will be available to use without membership, from mid-November for Android tablets and early 2012 for Apple iOS devices.
Canadian-based Nitobi announced its acquisition by Adobe on its company blog. The developer of PhoneGap said that agreement to buy the open source HTML5 mobile app platform will accelerate Adobe’s HTML5 and web standards strategy, giving Adobe’s users an alternative to the current Flash and AIR solutions.
This should draw a line under Abobe’s failings to get Flash working on mobiles. As well as being shunned by Apple, Flash still has problems on Android, despite improved support with Android 2.2. PhoneGap, on the other hand, is flavour of the year with the leading mobile developers. Andre Charland, Nitobi CEO, commented:
“Adobe has always been a big supporter of the open source community and at the forefront of enabling rich, Web based applications across screens. Becoming part of the Adobe family with its industry-leading tools and technologies opens up amazing new opportunities for PhoneGap and our customers.”
In a related move, Dave Johnson, CTO for Nitobi, said that the company has also donated the PhoneGap code to the Apache Software Foundation:
“Adobe has been fully supportive of our decision, further demonstrating Adobe’s continued commitment to the developer and open source communities. The Apache Software Foundation’s model makes it possible for contributors to collaborate on open source product development.”
Adobe’s second acquisition yesterday, the two-year-old Typekit, is already used by more than 250,000 customers, including The New York Times and Conde Nast. It will continue to be offered as a stand-alone service, as well as a part of the Creative Cloud. Typekit enables artists and designers to access the latest fonts without having to be concerned about digital rights issues – they simply pay a subscription fee and let Typekit worry about sorting out the legal issues.
Finally for now, Adobe announced a single edition option for its Digital Publishing Suite. This is designed for small businesses and design firms who need to publish one-off iPad editions of brochures, reports or portfolios, and will cost $395 (its Professional Edition is offered as a subscription of $495 per month).
Annemarie Beliard, Product Marketing Manager for the new software, explained on her blog how the service would work:
“Use familiar InDesign CS5.5 tools to design a page layout. Then use the Folio Producer tools to add interactive elements such as 360 object rotation, image panoramas and to preview the digital content on your desktop or tablet device. To publish to the iPad, access and purchase Single Edition on the Adobe.com store. Because the work takes place in InDesign, this means that the designer owns and manages the entire workflow – from design to publication – without writing code or depending on a developer.”
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