2008-12-08

On Adobe not doing so well.

It puzzles me that Adobe isn't doing so well. Let me rephrase that: given the opportunities they have to do well, it puzzles me why they choose to ignore that the markets are changing and that some of their projects are growing ever more annoying.

The most obvious problem with Adobe is that they do not understand where their Creative Suite should be heading. The whole market has changed. What was before a niche market has now become more mainstream. Everyone and their grandmother owns an SLR and ditto want to play around with Photoshop. Sure, there is Photoshop Elements, but to be quite honest, if that'll do then so will Aperture, Lightroom, BibblePro or any of a dozen image processing workflow programs.

Elements is a non product. It is the sort of rubbish hardware manufacturers pad their offerings with to tick off checkboxes. An honor reserved for practically unsellable bin-liner software. Drop it and price CS4 sensibly instead.

Starting with Photoshop CS2, Adobe should have realized that this is now a consumer product and priced it accordingly. We're now at CS4 and it is starting to get very late in the game. The consumers are getting quite good at finding cracked versions of Photoshop online. In fact, the only people I know who have tried out CS4 so far are people who are running cracked copies.

Which brings me to the next problem. CS4 was announced amid much fanfare. Adobe kept sending me all sorts of announcements, but when I went to their site to check out the price for an upgrade from CS3 to CS4, first it just wasn't available. Then, when it did become available, much later, it turned out that since my Adobe account was registered to a different country than the one where my credit card is issued so I couldn't buy the product. And no, the halfwits at Adobe had no easy remedy for this: I would have to register another account.

I wasn't in the mood to go through the whole ceremony of registering another account and filling out all sorts of market segmenting bullshit information, so I figured I'd continue using CS3 until I really felt a real need for features in CS4.

That need has not arisen yet.

(I can certainly understand why people pirate CS4 -- it is undoubtedly a much better user experience when you do not have to deal with Adobe's idiotic website or the idiocy of having to authorize and un-authorize copies of Photoshop because you happen to own more than two computers).

If CS4 and Creative Suite isn't selling so well, that should hardly come as a surprise with all the fumbling of the latest release, the sheer stupidity of the Adobe website and people asking themselves "do I really need this upgrade?".

For most people the answer is "no". Yet people like to run the latest software. Giving your customers ample opportunity to question their need by fumbling release and sales and making it more difficult to actually obtain the software by legitimate means is letting the impulse to buy in the consumer wear off.


Then there is products like Acrobat Reader. Wow. I am constantly amazed at the sheer idiocy of Adobe in devolving this product into an ever-growing annoyance. With every release it becomes bigger, clunkier and even more annoying.

Depending on your platform it can be anything from 30-something megabytes to 40-something megabytes. You can fit entire operating systems in that download. It is stuffed with more and more features nobody uses and nobody needs and to be quite honest, it doesn't do what it was supposed to do all that well either. It is certainly NOT a lightweight, quick way of browsing selv-contained documents. It has become a monster and I mostly avoid it by viewing PDF files in the much better alternatives that are offered.

And if the sheer bulk of the thing wasn't enough, it just adds to the Adobe annoyware noise whenever it pesters you that it needs to update itself. A process that is preposterously ardous, often fails (ever tried to update Adobe products with a home directory that is encrypted on a Mac?), and which is more needy than an attention-seeking pshycotic on speed. Do us all a favor: disable the updating agent. I'll update when I feel like it, ok?, and no amount of nagging me is going to make me more inclined to start my day by potentially screwing up my CS3 or Reader installation.

It is amazing to see how a big company can screw up such a huge opportunity. You'd think that given their resources and market position they'd be able to come up with a really good PDF reader. But they seem to be completely unable to do so.

Adobe, I hope that amongst the 600 people you fired, you made sure to fire the people who do your website, the idiots that mismanage the Acrobat Reader project and the blind morons behind the market strategy of CS4.

I certainly hope you didn't fire any programmers. You are going to need those as your competitors start to smell the blood in the water.

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