The CEO of Adobe Systems oversees a company that successfully harnessed the power of an earlier technology wave--personal computers--for tasks like digital publishing and photography.
Now Adobe is looking to add Web-delivered services to its product line, says Chizen. The company has already developed an online video editor and, Chizen said, an online version of image editor Photoshop is in the works. Also in the works is Apollo, a new client development strategy due later this year.
As the company develops new products, it intends to combine the multimedia authoring skills it has in Photoshop, Premiere and other applications with the Web design and development savvy of Macromedia, Chizen said. Indeed, as Web-based applications become more functional, Adobe's acquisition of Macromedia--maker of Flash and Web development tools--looks better every day, especially as Microsoft continues to challenge Adobe with competing products.
In part one of a two-part interview, Chizen tells CNET News.com about Adobe's online strategy, discloses his plans for Photoshop, and discusses how to live with Microsoft the monopolist. In part two, to be posted later this week, Chizen talks about hidden gems in the Macromedia acquisition and how to beat Google.
We've talked about this in the past, but you have said that Adobe hasn't been concerned with the low end of the market because those are not your core customers. The creative professionals are your core customers. Is that still true?
Chizen: One thing that has changed is that the low end of the market is moving up in terms of expectations. The YouTube audience--everybody wants to be a video publisher, everyone wants to be a creative. So we are doing some things like we have just announced with PhotoBucket and Remix, where we say we recognize there is a customer there, we recognize they are not going to pay us, necessarily, directly. But we could use ad revenue as a model. Google has demonstrated that it works pretty well for certain types of applications. So that's one of the things we are doing with the Remix product. You will probably see us do that with an image editor. We'll look at ways of reaching the consumer where they don't have to pay.
That's new for Adobe, isn't it?
Chizen: That is new (for Adobe). It's something we are sensitive to because we are watching folks like Google do it in different categories and we want to make sure that we are there before they are, in areas of our franchises. And also we have technologies in which to do it. We can take the video-editing expertise of the Premiere team and the Premiere Elements team and marry it with the Flex/Flash programming framework, which meant that we could get that video Remix product out very quickly, more quickly than we could have without Macromedia.
Right now, for photo editing, a lot of people use Google's Picasa. Those people may never become Photoshop or Photoshop Elements users.
Right, and if we offered a host-based version of Photoshop, that's Photoshop branded, that was potentially better than Picasa, you'd probably go the Photoshop route because of your belief in the Photoshop brand and the quality associated with the brand name. That's something that would be obvious for us to do.
The reason why we did video first, is that in video we said that other than Jumpcut, there was really nothing else in the market (like Remix), so why not do it ourselves?
But why wouldn't Adobe do this yourself? Why work with someone like Photobucket?
Chizen: We could do this ourselves (the combined Remix and Photobucket offering). But it's nice to have the distribution channel. It's not exclusive to Photobucket. There is no reason we can't do it with the other social sites or content providers. Imagine some of the people already in the video content business, the media houses--why they wouldn't want their users to remix videos? We could offer that from Adobe directly, but offering that from Adobe directly means we have to deal with all of the host-based aspects of the business--the technical operations of collecting the advertising and handling the transactions. That's a pain.
We're giving up some revenue by doing the deal with Photobucket, but they deal with some of the things I don't want to deal with, at least at this point in time. Now, once we see that it could be a significant revenue producer, then maybe we'll want to deal with it.
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