Adobe and the end of the world… of local software?

May 8, 2013, 4:31 pm

I’m still pondering the news that Adobe is dropping Creative Suite and betting it all on Creative Cloud. They are turning away from locally installed client software and moving fully to an online platform. It feels like a radical departure and I’m still trying to understand the business model. I’m also bummed that they are killing Fireworks, but maybe I’m showing my age?


We are working on a library renovation and a topic that comes up is desktops. A number of these are necessary for specialized software, but what if all software applications flow to the cloud? Maybe what we really need to plan is for really nice monitors and a fast data connection?


Thinking beyond hardware… does software become similar to journal subscriptions in which users authenticate and proxy in? Will we provide campus-wide subscriptions to everyone or perhaps on-demand (use as you go) model? Will every computer everywhere become the “the media lab” rather than designated spots on campus? Do the software tools that we (the University) provide (via the cloud) become a recruiting asset? And what happens once students graduate?


Does this framework enable collaboration across organizations? For example, could I design something online with someone at Georgia Tech? Or could students enrolled in my school collaborative with students at other schools or with people from industry, government, or other countries? If the tools we use are fully networked then how might that enable the work we do to become more networked as well?


Obviously I have lots of questions. As I said, I’m still pondering the news. Adobe moving in this direction feels like something more just dabbling with the cloud—they are betting their business on it. It seems connected thematically to a larger transition of mediums (music, film, radio, books, etc) to a network rather than a hard drive or other physical artifact (print, DVD, CD, etc.) It is becoming less and less about “the stuff I own” and more and more about “the stuff I license or subscribe to.” There is something more significant here than just Photoshop moving to online-only. This is quite possibly a transformative moment in the history of software, computers, design, and human interaction… maybe? As Adobe says… it’s time for a change… not just with where the software lives but with how we use it, and perhaps even how we define “software” going forward.



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