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Adobe Plans to Rebrand, Repackage Photoshop and Lightroom

It seems this time of year always brings big news. We're starting to hear rumors of Adobe's plans for the next release of Photoshop and Lightroom. In addition to the usual crop of new features, Adobe plans to rename both products to better target digital photographers.

Photoshop started out as a general purpose graphics program in the late 1980's. The product name may have had nice connotations to it, but there wasn't much photography to Photoshop back then. With the limited capabilities of computers at the time, I doubt Thomas Knoll or anyone else involved realized where things would be now. These days, film and chemical developing have given way to digital cameras, raw file converts and image editing on computers. Because it was the market leader for computer graphics, Photoshop became the leading tool used by photographers as they struggled to move to digital. But then Adobe released Lightroom and things got even more confusing for digital photographers.

Increasingly, many photographers have found that Lightroom satisfies the lion's share of their needs with Photoshop being used now mainly to finish off images after they've been processed in Lightroom. Adobe has added some targeted adjustment features to Lightroom recently, but there are still things that it can't do, and if you need to do them you need Photoshop. But it has become Lightroom that is most associated with photography, not Photoshop in spite of the name. As I say, confusing.

Apparently based on feedback from focus groups and other market research, Adobe has gotten the message that their product names no longer convey the concepts they want them to. Initial beta testing is claimed to be starting the beginning of April for the next generation of Adobe's Creative Suite software, and it sounds like the company is set to shake things up a bit. While no official word is likely until we get closer to the actual release date, leaked word is that the company is making some significant changes in their product lineup aimed at more directly targeting the exploding digital photography market. Lightroom, which has for the past couple releases been officially known as Adobe Photoshop Lightroom will be rebranded simply as Adobe Photoshop with Photoshop itself will be renamed as Adobe ImageReady.

Adobe to rebrand and repackage Photoshop and Lightroom in CS6At first, this sounded like an unusual decision to me but the more I thought about it there did seem to be a certain logic to it.

In the past, Adobe produced a different application known as ImageReady aimed mainly at the manipulation of web graphics. Introduced as a stand-alone product in 1998, Adobe began bundling it with Photoshop the next year. Although they still have the name trademarked, the last release of the original ImageReady shipped with Photoshop CS2 in 2005. Now just a few releases later of their Creative Suite, Adobe seems poised to bring the name back in order to rebrand what has been called Photoshop.

Some features aimed mainly at graphic artists will apparently move from Photoshop to Adobe Illustrator, and some features will get merged with Lightroom in the new Photoshop. What remains though will now be known as the new Adobe ImageReady. In much the same way that the old ImageReady was used to finish off images edited in Photoshop the new ImageReady will fill that same role for today's digital photographers. In addition to the migrated Photoshop features, early word is that the new ImageReady will once again be able to work with the multiple rollover and image slice code generated by the old ImageReady.

Photographers have long had a difficult time learning Photoshop since it included so many features only used by graphic artists. After years of confusion, this reshuffling of Creative Suite features seems likely to simplify things at least for them. Adobe has made similar tweaks in their lineup and product names before but none quite as abrupt as what is apparently being planned this time around. The most well known previous shift came in 2003 when what would have been Photoshop 8 was rebranded as Photoshop CS but there have been others. A number of changes took place when Adobe acquired Macromedia in 2005 and GoLive passed the baton to Dreamweaver. There have also been a number of other Adobe products that came and went over the years such as TypeAlign, PressReady, and LiveMotion, all of which I personally owned.

Not everyone will likely be happy with these changes but most digital photographers should appreciate the more streamlined and organized product line-up. Insider sources report that there will finally be a Creative Suite Photography Premium edition centered on these rebranded products, and without the need to purchase Adobe Acrobat. Apparently the new version will run only on Microsoft Windows but preliminary tests with Apple Parallels Desktop have shown speeds on OS X at least as fast as Photoshop ran just a few years ago on the iMac Blueberry.

These innovative changes are apparently due to a shift of management at Adobe Labs. "I want to keep things fresh and relevant to keep people guessing" said upstart new manager April Fulson Yu. "We discovered that photographers long for the days of real photography with film and smelly chemicals so we wanted to reinforce that memory. Adobe Photoshop 5We can't actually make the new Photoshop smell but we're doing what we can to make photographers feel at home. With real brick and mortar photo processing shops going by the wayside, we felt the time was right for capitalizing on the emotional associations of a bygone era and give a new spin to our successful brand."

Update: April Fools Day - As many readers (but not all) figured out, this couldn't possibly be true. I was just having a bit of fun for April Fools week. No, software doesn't smell, and playing musical chairs with Adobe's product names would be more than just unusual. The splash screen above is a modestly edited version of the one from Photoshop 5. That's Photoshop 5, not CS5, and certainly not CS6. And April Fulson Yu isn't really a manager at Adobe. Her name is, in fact, just a bad pun. Say it three times fast and it should start to make sense if it doesn't already. And to those who wonder if they can no longer trust anything I write here, just keep in mind that April Fools comes but once a year. And now back to your regularly scheduled Phototip articles....

Date posted: March 27, 2011 (updated April 1, 2011)


Copyright © 2011 Bob Johnson, Earthbound Light - all rights reserved.
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