On December 20th, 2012 Adobe quietly announced via a blog post that it is discontinuing several of the Adobe Touch apps. Those who missed the blog post may also have noticed that the touch apps suddenly disappeared from the Creative Cloud dashboard.
Here’s what Jill Soley, Adobe Creative Cloud Team, wrote:
Over the past year, we’ve been exploring how the creative process can be augmented and enhanced on touch devices. While some of our efforts have been successful, others have been less so. Therefore, starting today, we will no longer be updating Adobe Debut, Adobe Collage, Adobe Proto, or the Android versions of Adobe Ideas and Adobe Kuler.
Here’s my open letter to Adobe about that announcement. Please feel free to express your opinion as well.
I just saw the post on the Creative Cloud Team Blog about cancelling most of the Adobe Touch apps. There are several discussions springing up about the decision on Google+, Facebook, and elsewhere. The general feeling is that you made the decision too soon, with many people chalking it up to what appears over the last year as Adobe’s increasing breakdown of internal communications between departments, product teams, and program managers—but that’s another discussion for another day.
Focusing on the Touch Apps discontinuance, I think the decision is premature. Granted, I don’t know what your sales numbers are for the Touch apps, what new directions you may be pursuing, but some of those apps are younger than 7 months. How can you expect to see products succeed or fail in only 7 months or even in 18 months? Tablets and tablet software are still young and very much in a state of flux. We only this year moved into the “HD” range of tablets.
Adobe’s marketing of the Touch apps was overshadowed by the focus on Creative Cloud and marred by the whole confusion of having to buy the Touch Apps from Apple and then seek a Creative Cloud subscription credit. How could the market even keep up with everything new out there? Since May 2012 Adobe and program partners (like me) have been promoting all of the following at the same time.
- 13 full product updates to CS6
- Adobe Muse going 1.0
- Acrobat XI launch
- A move to 12-month full product release cycles
- The Creative Cloud launch
- Later the Creative Cloud for Teams launch
- Creative Cloud Connection “coming soon”
- Creative Cloud Connection arriving
- Edge Tools
- Adobe moving into the game development arena
- The CS6 focus on HTML5
- The launch of Elearning Suite and update of its constituent products
- The launch of the Digital Publishing Suite
- Story Plus
- Digital Publishing Suite Single Edition going free to publish
- Typekit roll-out
- Lightroom 4 release
- Lightroom being added to the Creative Cloud
- The announcement that Creative Cloud members get new features every 3‑months
- New features in Illustrator CS6 for Cloud subscribers
- New features in InDesign CS6 for Cloud subscribers
- New features in Photoshop CS6 for Cloud subscribers
And then, somewhere amidst all that, is also…
- New Adobe Proto
- New Adobe Debut
- New Adobe Collage
- New Adobe Kuler for Android
- Update to Adobe Ideas
- Update to Photoshop Touch
Is it any surprise customers haven’t adopted all the Touch apps? They don’t know about all them because they can’t keep up with all the announcements and promotion. It’s tough for me to do so and I’m an Adobe partner with early access to the information and then a job wherein I need to know every new app and application, every new feature, and then figure out how these can best benefit real-world creative and production workflows. How can you expect designers working 40–80 hours a week to keep up with all the new products and announcements from Adobe over the last 7 months? Cut them—and your apps—some slack.
Give the Touch Apps more time.
And stop charging $9.99 for them. Give them away for a couple of years to gain traction. If you like, leave the in-app purchase upgrades like extra layers in Adobe Ideas, but make Adobe Ideas app itself free. Make them all free.
These apps can have both short- and long-term positive impact for Adobe.
In the long-term, they provide two valuable things: First, they keep an Adobe presence on the next computing platform. Second, they prove that Adobe understands Mobile, which is important because Adobe was 10 years late to understanding the Web and 3 years late to getting it’s head into the whole smartphone movement. After 10 years Adobe still doesn’t get ebooks (EPUB, MOBI, KF8, etc.), and the market knows that. You need the tablet presence these apps give you.
In fact, I think you need to expand the number of platforms. Find some way to make these apps work on the customized Android 2.x platforms like the Kindle Fire line and NOOK Tablet line. Drop the price of the Touch apps from $9.99 to free, then use them as an egress into Creative Cloud. Let people see in each app not just their Creative Cloud-stored files but the desktop apps they could get with a Creative Cloud subscription. Let them subscribe directly within the Touch apps’ UIs.
At least, that’s my two cents.
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Update: 2013-01-03: If you discuss the termination (End of Life or EOL) of Adobe Touch apps in social media, please include the hashtag #AdobeTouch (as you can see here on Twitter) . I’ve been informed that Adobe only sees discussions with hashtags, and that Adobe currently believes no one is discussing the Adobe Touch apps being ended or in such a manner. Make sure Adobe sees your reaction by including the #AdobeTouch hashtag in your conversations.
Update 2013-01-04: Comments on Jill’s post have been restored—dozens of them. See comment below from Adobe representative Rachel Luxemburg for the reason they didn’t appear until now.
Update: 2013-01-07: I just got off a call with some people at Adobe, including Jill Soley, the author of the original Touch Apps EOL blog post. There’s nothing concrete to report yet, but a lot of people within Adobe are doing quite a lot of talking and brainstorming toward figuring out ways to avoid snafus like this in the future.