In Frontpage Featured Content, Mobile, News

By Hans Hartman

[Scroll down for And a few more things… industry news highlights]

As I’m spreading my attention between Thanksgiving, Sinterklaas, and Christmas parties, I’m taking the easy – but very timely – route by republishing my 2015 article published in Kaptur: A requiem for Photoshop Touch: the app that users loved or hated.

What makes it timely? The recent release of Photoshop for iPad app. With an average rating of 2.9 stars out of 5, it received fierce criticism, as for instance reported on here. The critique centers around the app offering too few features at a too steep price (it will require a $21/month Photoshop Creative Cloud subscription starting February).

As you can see below, the original Photoshop Touch app also had low user ratings but, interesting enough, the features were in a way too many – the mirroring of Photoshop’s desktop software created an unwieldy interface. And its price? Some thought it was ridiculously high; others thought it was ridiculously low – there was no or little middle ground. Note though that the price for Photoshop Touch was a perpetual license price; today’s Photoshop for iPad app price is for a monthly subscription. With today more and more brand photo apps implementing subscription pricing, Adobe is attempting to pull off the type of pricing we deemed to be unthinkable only four years ago. The jury is out as to whether they will succeed this time.

Here it goes!


May 23, 2015

Adobe announced that they will discontinue Photoshop Touch, its comprehensive photo editing app, as part of a strategy to release apps with narrower use cases, such as Photoshop Mix (compositing), Photoshop Sketch (drawing), Adobe Shape (bitmap-to-vector conversion), and soon-to-be-released Rigel, for retouching.

Before I share my take on this, it might be good to share some data about what Photoshop Touch users thought of the app. We did a qualitative analysis of 125 iTunes reviews in March of 2013, back in the heydays of Photoshop Touch for iPad (the iPhone and Android versions came out later), as part of an analysis of the potential for tablet-specific photo apps (although dated, there might still be valuable takeaways in the white paper).

Three things stood out:

– Photoshop Touch’s overall user ratings were low (3.5), as was the case for some other well-known and not “mobile-first” brands that struggled to make their mark in the app world (Shutterfly for iPad was even lower, at 2.5).

– “Features” were an important factor as to why some liked Photoshop Touch and others didn’t. They liked the features because there were so many of them – not unlike Photoshop on the desktop. They didn’t like the features because they were hard to master and, most importantly, because retina support was missing at the time. Telling for the perceived complexity of the app was that quite a few reviews blamed Adobe’s tutorials for their struggles, e.g. “The app is fantastic if you know how to use it. But if you do not and try to follow the tutorials, you will just end up confused and frustrated. Please improve the tutorials.”

– As one of the highest priced photo apps ($9.99), price was actually an important reason why they liked the app, summarized as e.g. “Are you KIDDING me? I can hardly believe all I can accomplish in this one app. And, seriously, it’s TEN DOLLARS people. The desktop version is SIX HUNDRED.”

Our take

The last point is one that Adobe is not highlighting in its discontinuation announcement. With a slew of excellent, multi-faceted photo editing apps on the market – many of them free and virtually all priced less than $10 – Adobe was simply not in a position to raise its Photoshop Touch price anywhere near that of its desktop program to mitigate cannibalization from Photoshop Touch.

From Adobe’s perspective, the discontinuation of Photoshop Touch and release of single use case apps makes a lot of sense. With its Creative Cloud service in place, Adobe can now offer narrower use case apps, allowing its customers to access their images and continue working on them in different single use case apps and even on different devices.

In addition, Adobe can now afford to offer these apps for free and attract new users to its 25-year-old Photoshop franchise, making the connecting glue – an up sell to a Creative Cloud subscription – the real winner, while killing any cannibalization in the interim.

[end 2015 Photoshop Touch article]

And a few more things…

VSCO and RyloVSCO acquires 360 actioncam maker Rylo. While best known for its camera, Rylo has also received much praise for its “single tap editing” companion video editing app, covered in our Videos and Phodeos report. Rylo will discontinue its camera and instead focus on developing additional video editing functionality for VSCO. Rylo’s founder was the original developer of Instagram’s Hyperlapse app and the company has raised a total of $38M from top-notch VCs.

Snapchat. Your selfie doesn’t look impressive enough? Snapchat is preparing to launch a big new feature that uses your selfies to replace the faces of people in videos you can then share. It’s essentially a simplified way to deep-fake you into GIFs.

Google. Your smartphone doesn’t have a depth sensor yet? No worries, Google’s ARCore Depth API enables AR depth maps with one camera. To make mobile AR more realistic, it also features occlusion, a way to show digital objects partially hiding behind real-world objects.

Google. A new Google Pixel 4 upgrade allows users to add a simulated bokeh effect post-capture, even if the image wasn’t originally shot in the Pixel’s Portrait mode. This means you can now add background blur to images that were shot a long time before bokeh simulation even was a thing.

Facebook and GoogleFacebook is rolling out a new tool to transfer your Facebook photos to Google Photos. Yeah!

Sony and Nikon. The digital camera competitive landscape keeps changing: Sony is now #2 in Digital Camera sales as Nikon falls to #3.

Apple and SpectreApp Store – Best of 2019Spectre, a long exposure camera app by the makers of Halide is named one of 4 Apps of the Year winners.  Spectre is the only photo app among the winners.

Google and GlitchGoogle Play’s 2019 Users’ Choice winners include Video Editor – Glitch Video Effects, the only photo or video app among the winners.

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Hans Hartman

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