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Photoshop for the masses

Adobe’s acquisition of Aviary is no surprise really. For a long time Adobe has been  the desktop in the photo editing tool  space and even strong efforts by Microsoft and Apple have made only little dents. However, they have been playing catch up in the consumer space for a while with little success.

Let’s face it, Adobe should have come out with Instagram. They were the master of photo filters and are credited in inventing them in the first place. Thing is, as much as Adobe is an expert in the pro world ( graphics designers and photographers), they are clueless in the consumer market. They are geniuses in squeezing every inch of new technology into great features but when it comes to dumbing down for the masses, they are clueless.   It is not for a lack of trying with products like Photo express and photoshop.com. Thing is, it is too much features for a crowd that craves simplicity.  This is where Aviary comes in.

Screenshot of the Aviary app
Screenshot of the Aviary app

Aviary got lucky. Inferior to its competition,  it really grew after Yahoo bought and destroyed the now defunct Picnic. While Yahoo’s intention were good – to offer an online editing tool to Flickr members it completely failed by not understanding two simple premises:

• Flickr users edit their images before uploading to the site

• Picnic was only successful as a largely available app and not solely for Flickr users

This is where Aviary took an opportunity and flew with it. They filled  the void left by its previously more successful competition and proceeded in a dual approach:

– Become the number one free online editing tool and

– Offer an SDK for every photo app out there who needed a simple photo editing tool(7,000 apps use Aviary technology)

It worked.They are (almost) everywhere. That allowed them to  pile up a massive amount of users (more than 70 million people use it each month), which they then turn into cash by offering brand sponsored stickers people can add to their images.

Screenshot of the Photoshop Express app
Screenshot of the Photoshop Express app

This approach, this success is something Adobe was never able to carry out. They never quite understood the mass consumer market and Aviary does. If they are smart, they will let the Aviary team continue to expand on their knowledge and expertise of the space while supporting them with great technology. If they are not and want to take control, they will have another Yahoo/Picnic fiasco, opening the door to a third-party app to take over, and there are many.

Photo by Vineet Radhakrishnan

Author: Paul Melcher

Paul Melcher is the founder of Kaptur. He is an entrepreneur, advisor, and consultant with a rich background in visual tech, content licensing, business strategy, and technology with more than 20 years experience in developing world-renowned photo based companies with already two successful exits.

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