Things are not looking so good at ADBE.
If I were the CEO of Adobe I would be getting pretty worried.
Look at the issues:
- Flash is going to die. Apple refuses to use it on its mobile devices and the alternative, HTML5, runs on everything, is bug free, fast and doesn’t spool up the fans in your computer when launched, drawing large amounts of power
- Acrobat is mature and has no growth potential
- No meaningful offerings for mobile computing
- An entrenched culture of low energy and late to market
- No focus, with time wasted on slagging Apple rather than making new products
- The worst customer service on the planet, bar none
- A core product which is, let’s face it, dead
Yes, that core product is Photoshop. Just as the LP reached perfection within its limitations when the CD was launched, so has PS reached a like peak and really has no place left to go.
The only significant additions to CS5 over CS4 are built in lens aberration correction (which you can get in a $25 PS plugin named PTLens which I recommend unreservedly) and Content-Aware Fill.
The latter option will be beloved of advertisers and dictators. Now when the Russians next rewrite their history books (“Let me check the history. Have we written it yet?”) and decide that Lenin is now persona non grata their army of retouchers will be replaced by a dude with CS5 which will likely as not be a pirate copy. Two key strokes and, hey presto, Comrade Lenin is gone.
Lenin? Nah! He was never in our band
What has not changed in CS5 is the awful user interface, one of the worst there is, or the egregious cost, hardly justified by ADBE finally making the thing run in 64-bit mode. Sure, a few pros will be unable to live without it, but a few pros do not constitute meaningful earmings per share, and if I was running Adobe, I would definitely be fixated on those:
A tale of two companies.
Adobe needs to craft some really innovative products, like Lightroom, for the mobile user. An iPad-using photographer is rarin’ to process his pictures on the road and a touch enabled, rethought Lightroom would be a hot seller. But, when you realize that the only reason Lightroom exists is because Apple came out with Aperture, forcing Adobe to react, then it’s not like you conclude that the people running Adobe, who seem to prefer spending their time slagging Apple over Flash use (or non use), are about to suddenly get it.
Think about this. Storage in the iPad is currently limited, so not much space for your RAW files. But a new mobile processing app will allow you to make all your changes on the road and then simply upload the RAW sidecar file with your processing data, which is very small, to your cloud storage. Thereafter you delete that day’s RAW originals from the iPad, once more freeing up space, your snaps remain on an SDHC card and your processing changes reside in the cloud. Once home you re-download the RAW originals from your SDHC card (at $20 for 8gB it’s not like you need to save on these) then your desktop app goes out to the cloud, downloads the minuscule sidecar files and hey presto! you are ready to export or print. Just don’t hold your breath waiting for something like this from Adobe.
At $660 for basic CS5 or $200 for the upgrade from CS4 I would say save your money and wait for someone else to come up with the next generation of photo processing tools unless, that is, you are in the Politburo.
As for ADBE stock – a great short after the near term earnings bump from CS5. Sad really, as without Adobe and Postscript and Photoshop, the Mac would likely not exist today.
Me? I continue to use CS2 (in Rosetta mode!) and still dread every time I have to roundtrip to it from LR2. My use is now restricted solely to correction of converging verticals.