Adobe: A Case Study In Cloud/Mobile Strategy

Before I go any further, allow me to say that I’ve been a fan of Adobe products since, like, day 1. I still have Photoshop, InDesign, Acrobat Pro, and Illustrator on my MacBook Air. I write for 99U.com from time to time (part of Behance, the creative community started by my friend Scott Belsky, now owned by Adobe).

I say “still have” because as most people know that the company moved their Creative Suite to a cloud-based subscription model, which only last year still held the perception in many a user’s mind that Adobe was sort of scamming people with repetitive charges for something most users already had on their hard drives and were happy to simply update with each new release.

From all the hoopla surrounding Adobe’s annual Max conference this week in Los Angeles, it’s clear that Adobe is executing what appears to be a winning strategy, one that is so rich with solutions and so completely captures the creative space playing field that it’s hard to imagine a competitor getting so much as a toehold. Adobe has addressed real needs of the creative user, leveraged, repurposed, and even rebranded existing and beloved tools, involved the right third-party partners and advisors, and doubled down on the cloud and mobile.

It’s a real-time case study in cloud/mobile strategy. As Darrell Etherington puts it in his TechCrunch rundown of all the new Adobe mobile apps:

Adobe’s mobile focus these past few years has been impressive. The company went from offering just a few, very feature-poor versions of its main titles to developing smart, mobile-specific editions of top software like Photoshop and Illustrator. Today’s launch includes a smart evolution of some of its previous experiments, like Kuler and Ideas, and a more comprehensive overall vision of how mobile apps will work with the CC suite as a whole, regardless of what platform you happen to have available.

In addition to Etherington’s post, check out all the Adobe Max Conference Videos. (Warning: the keynote is two hours long.) I’d recommend starting with the much shorter “Mobile Apps” video to see just how deeply integrated the Adobe mobile strategy is.

Scott Belsky does the honors, and makes clear the core theme: “remove the friction.” I love that. If ever there was a target for subtraction, it’s excess, unnecessary friction, wherever it may be found.

The difference between the past, present, and future strategy is quite clear. Don’t miss the short “The Future” video that delivers some cool sneak previews of what’s in the Adobe pipeline. Of strategic note is the Adobe/Microsoft partnership.

Of special note is what friend (and The Laws of Subtraction contributor) Khoi Vinh has been working on with Adobe: LayUp. “It’s an iPad that turbocharges the early stages of the design process,” says Khoi. Here’s a quick five-minute sneak preview.

LayUp has all the makings of becoming one of my all-time favorite iPad apps: it’s one of the most elegant I’ve ever seen.