Thursday, May 20, 2010

Apple just may be right on this one...Adobe Elements

I have spent the last few evenings preparing a photo montage for a family event and have been using my trusty Adobe Elements 7 program. It's a user friendly photo editing/storage program that is lighter than Photoshop and more featured than many web based programs. However, much to my surprise, it comes with a huge, customer unfriendly feature.

Let me digress a moment. Over the past decade, many software/web companies have pursued a 'freemium' business model, whereas a user receives some crippled functionality, in a 'try and buy' mode, towards a hoped for later conversion to a paying customer. Adobe has pursued a similar strategy, preferring a limited time free offer, then charging $79-$99 for this program. They also offer a companion program, referred to as a companion program for video editing called Adobe Essentials. Essentials adds tools for enhanced photographic effects, enlargements, etc.

What Adobe does NOT tell you is that if you happen to prepare a slide montage in Elements, you can only output it to a CD, and only in the .wmv format. Outputting to a DVD is a crippled feature that requires a purchase of Essentials. I can see how this decision was a classic product management debate where one side said something to the effect of 'gee,we can get all this upgrade revenue by hooking the customer with all their data, giving them a crippled output facility that will force an upgrade. Oh, and let's be 'careful' about messaging it in the product as the focus groups didn't like it.

The other side of the argument would have highlighted how this will probably attract more revenue but is totally customer hostile. Customers expect real value for the incremental purchase price and this feature is such a no-brainer that we will only upset our customers and present a really bad picture to the press.

Adding to my frustration, and that of many of my peers is that when you try to download Premiere you are caught in an Adobe/Akamai endless loop of problems. Why Adobe decided to put someone between themselves and their customer who only adds to the problem is beyond me. In fact, it gives great justification, from a users perspective, why Steve Jobs is loathe to do the same with Flash.

Too bad the wrong guys won these product battles at Adobe....probably the same folk who decided not to support the Mac 5 years ago.

Any suggestions on the best way to wean me from my Elements addiction? Household moving to Mac's shortly....

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