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How Adobe Could Take Over Design (Again)

Adobe’s Creative Cloud is an ecosystem waiting to rain on everyone.

Designers (and pigeonholing them into a single group is already tantamount to imprisoning them in Abu Ghraib) are a notoriously cliquish bunch who have a guttural reaction to  LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. where their 7AM lattes come back up their throats. Pinterest (for inspiration) and Deviantart (for gloating) are okay. But their activities around the “job” of design can’t be socialized as easily to pull faithful creative types away from their Photoshop layers and Bezier curves. Cat videos are an exception.

All software, at some point or another, will be commoditized. It’s inevitable. For example, many of the most basic Photoshop and Illustrator functions are already available for a fraction of a fraction of the price on your iPad. And in some cases, it’s also simpler and feels more responsive. Adobe’s trajectory in the last five years has been more like a train than a rocket, a sign the company has been disrupted upon or that it just hasn’t dramatically increased its user base.

The Creative Cloud’s potential is immense. Imagine if besides software, it becomes an always-on neural network of assistance, crowdsourcing, advice, feedback, and automation?

Let’s say you’re working on a design in Photoshop and need a new button. What if instead of drawing a button, you have a library available of configurable, web-ready buttons that is fully integrated with Photoshop and you just pay $1 for them on your Creative Cloud account? And that these buttons, stock images, fonts, gradients, effects, etc. are coming from third-party designers who make a cut? How much basic design work would be done? You can do it today, but it’s a separate transaction. Adobe’s Creative Cloud could take that process over.

Or what if you design (late at night or as a solo act) a logo or ad and want immediate feedback from other designers from all over the world or from a specific part of the world where design sensibilities could result in tragicomedy?

What if it’s a channel to buy ad inventory, deploy creative, and adapt designs based on incoming analytics? Finally, some use actionability for SiteCatalyst that actually makes sense to a designer.

What if you could take a $5 course on CSS or jQuery while you’re trying to fix something in Dreamweaver?

And with all that knowledge of how designers are using their products, they could create interaction models that send out a relevant coupon, highlight a ready-made feature or plugin they might consider instead of doing something by hand, or dish up some other free-bees. If I know the designer does a lot of illustrations, I might serve up an ad for a Wacom tablet.

Anyone who’s ever gone to Adobe’s product websites knows they are travesties in efficient and effective communication. Stuff is embarrassingly enterprise-sold to hell. Valuable information lurks deep in the nether-regions, buried in miles of bullshit. And you think to yourself… these guys know DESIGN? Why can’t they design a better marketing experience?

I say just avoid all that nonsense. Someone who needs an Adobe product already knows they will get an Adobe product. Make the sale by tapping that loyalty and holding on til death do us part. Give us a taste of the Cloud and then lock us in for life with awesome tools, productivity and insight.

An advanced social API in and out of Creative Cloud would be incredibly useful to those who serve designers and to create a stickiness to the Adobe brand that would make it hard to move away from. It’s also the one thing Adobe could do to expand the market. $2000 licenses are ridiculously expensive, but taking it a little at a time, and providing an unmatchable ecosystem of support? And developing a new generation of design addicts?

You win.

Now… about that Microsoft Live thing? That would be an even larger ecosystem, but a messier one and one we shall explore in another post.

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