— by Hans Hartman
Adobe announced here that it 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 the soon-to-be-released Rigel, for retouching.
Let’s look at 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; you can download it here).
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.”
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 enough to that of its desktop program to mitigate cannibalization from the mobile app with many of the same features.
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 upsell to a Creative Cloud subscription – the real winner, while killing any cannibalization in the interim.