I was going to wait until Monday to make this post, but in light of all the hubub, decided to go ahead and make an exception this go around and do a weekend post.  So…without further ado:

Adobe on Thursday unveiled it’s latest incarnation of photo editing software, an online editor it’s calling Photoshop Express. In the aftermath of the online communities reviews, first looks, tutorials and grabbing the headlines, some salient questions are coming to the fore on the value that PE will bring to the marketplace.

What is Photoshop Express?

First and foremost, even heavyweights from NAPP are quick to say that PE is not really Photoshop. Scott Kelby, Matt K., Dave Cross, and the whole bunch were clearly in on the development, but only to a degree – since the Photoshop moniker was there on release. In retrospect, Adobe may re-brand this down the road so as to clear up perceptions of what it’s trying to accomplish here. With that in mind, it does seem pertinent to say that Adobe is likely trying to bring a web-based application into play that can compete with the likes of popular online image-sharing repositories like Facebook, Photobucket, and Picasa (which you can log in to via the PE interface with what is likely a means to transfer images from one repository to another.) It does seem interesting that there is no similar facility in place between PE and Flickr though…perhaps someone could share some thoughts on that in the comments?

The Legalese

The other big hubub surrounding the release was a bit of legalese that granted Adobe some pretty potent rights on images uploaded. Full terms are disclosed here. The specific part that many seem to be having an issue with though, are on transference of licensing. Specifically, the terms stated that:

“Adobe does not claim ownership of Your Content. However, with respect to Your Content that you submit or make available for inclusion on publicly accessible areas of the Services, you grant Adobe a worldwide, royalty-free, nonexclusive, perpetual, irrevocable, and fully sublicensable license to use, distribute, derive revenue or other remuneration from, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, publicly perform and publicly display such Content (in whole or in part) and to incorporate such Content into other Materials or works in any format or medium now known or later developed.”

Apparently there was enough of an outcry (especially the license granting) that Adobe is re-writing the terms to accommodate the concerns. This comes according to some news from the blog of John Nack (who works for Adobe). It will be interesting to see how things roll out from here.

Photoshop Express Backlash

Finally, a question about its value came up on the NAPP forums where members share their feedback on everything NAPP and Kelby Training has going on. Some have expressed concern that even though the new application is being touted as intended for the “18-24” crowd, that with the photo editing that is available, this could further dis-illusion the average Joe Public into thinking that they can do their own photo editing and no longer need professional photographers. As one poster put it, “it’s giving the consumer a false sense of what it really takes to truly manipulate and retouch photo[s]”.


From my perspective, as both a photo enthusiast and as a consumer, that this is merely an attempt by Adobe to expand their market footprint. They’ve already got the pros and enthusiasts (like myself), but there is a huge market share out there of the next generation to appeal to and gain market share from. With the internet expanding past its infancy and getting to the point of ubiquity, the growing trend for online collaboration and Web 2.o applications becoming more common, it only makes sense for Adobe to expand in this regard. Why should other companies like Facebook, Photobucket and Picasaweb get exclusive access to this demographic?

As for the notion that PE will dip into the market share of professional photographers and retouchers – it’s unlikely to have an impact on the higher end professionals that cater to corporations, businesses, and clientele who are interested in the highest quality. Where there likely will be some fallout is the GWOC (guy-with-camera/gal-with-camera) who wants to hang out a shingle. It’s actually a win-win situation for Adobe because the GWOC’s will find that there is no market for them unless they upgrade their skills and buy a higher end product like full versions of PS. At the same time, the next generation of photo enthusiasts is likely to try this Photoshop Express for a while, then want to do more. It would only make sense to “upgrade” to the standalone application for their computer. My hats off to Adobe for an excellent marketing plan to expand their footprint in todays competitive marketplace.

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