Jun 30, 2022 - Technology

Adobe's Photoshop for the web grabs customers as they Google

Illustration of a hand cursor holding a paintbrush dripping paint.
Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Adobe is bringing Photoshop to the web for largely the same reason content creators do search engine optimization — the need to capture customers from the moment they are Googling how to do something.

Why it matters: Content creators have long tailored their products to search engines. Now software makers are getting in on the act.

Driving the news:

  • Adobe is testing Photoshop for the web in Canada. Current paying customers outside Canada are also able to try out the browser-based photo-editing app.
  • The company already has Acrobat for the web, which is used by 50 million people per month, double the rate from a year ago.

"We're able to capture users at the point of intent," Adobe executive David Wadhwani told Axios in an interview earlier this month.

Be smart: Adobe has switched from selling software licenses to a largely subscription-based model. Mobile and web apps, as "freemium" products, serve as the top of their sales funnel — the point at which potential customers enter their world and can be targeted with pitches and offers.

Another product, Adobe Express, brings together features from products like Premiere, Acrobat and Photoshop in a project format designed to appeal to a broader audience.

  • It already has millions of active users, Wadhwani said: "We’re aggressively taking core capabilities from our desktop apps and bringing them directly into Adobe Express."
  • Adobe's mobile scanning product, Adobe Scan, has 100 million registered users.

The big picture: After transitioning its core audience of design professionals to the subscription business, Adobe says that new customers are helping fuel its recent growth.

  • The result, Wadhwani said, is that Adobe added 1,500 employees last quarter and plans to continue hiring even as other tech companies have begun to cut back.

What's next: Adobe is also trying to invest in further-out opportunities, including the metaverse. For now, it's focused on how to help businesses to digitize their products in ways that can benefit sales through online try-ons and virtual photo shoots for ads.

  • "We want to go where the opportunity is today," Wadhwani said.

Between the lines: In the past, the company has gone with a more experimental approach, trying out lots of different ideas. The company has rolled out a number of mobile products over the years, many of which got scrapped after they failed to gain significant traction.

  • More recently, Adobe has focused on bringing its core products to new devices. In addition to the new web-based app, it made Photoshop and Lightroom available on the iPad.
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