Is 13 Adobe’s Lucky Number?

If Adobe Systems didn’t set a record with today’s product announcements, it sure came close. The company unloaded a tidal wave of products, leveraging its 2005 $3.4 billion acquisition of Macromedia, to release 13 new software products and six suites.

The 13 new products cover pretty much every major application from both Adobe  and Macromedia, such as Photoshop, Flash, DreamWeaver, After Effects, Premier and Illustrator.

Adobe worked at integration between almost everything in its product line, so all of the products talk to each other. For example, importing Flash images to Photoshop for image editing used to be a very difficult task, but now that has been greatly simplified.

“We used to release them independent of each other,” Caleb Belohlavek, director of the creative solutions group at Adobe told “What we found is building them together and leveraging core technologies at the same time has brought a higher degree of integration than we’ve ever had before.”

He’s not kidding. Between the two combined companies, Adobe now has 72 products. All of the new releases run natively on Microsoft Vista, which is a good thing since many of the current versions don’t run well on Vista now and Adobe is not offering patches for Vista to the old products.

There will also be native Intel-based Macintosh support and PowerPC-based Mac support, but Premier, Sound Booth and Encore will only be native to the Intel-based Macs.

All 13 products will have “Creative Suite 3” in the name. The new product avalanche is: Acrobat 8 Professional, After Effects CS3 Professional, Contribute, Device Central, Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Flash, Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop, Photoshop CS3 Extended, Premiere Pro and Soundbooth.

There are two new suites involving the Photoshop family, Extended and Lightroom. Extended is for non-traditional publishers that still need photo editing, like forensics and scientific users, while Lightroom is for professional photographers.

There are six all-new product configurations with the title Creative Suite 3. They are Creative Suite 3 Design Premium and Design Standard editions, Creative Suite 3 Web Premium and Web Standard editions, Creative Suite 3 Production Premium and Creative Suite Master Collection, which combines a total of 12 Adobe products in one box.

Sorting through the product blitz

Belohlavek acknowledged that the product blitz may be a bit much for customers to sort out. “If you aren’t walking into this with a clear mindset of knowing what you are doing, it can be a bit overwhelming. But most of our customers have a good idea of what they are doing and where they want to go,” he said.

Harley Manning, vice president and research director for customer experience at Forrester Research, told that under most circumstances, such a huge launch might be a bad idea, except “when your point is you’re integrating all of your products. Now you have all this interoperability between different products, and I think it’s pretty impressive.”

Packaging so many products from two complimentary companies makes an effective demonstration that they are serious about integration of the products. But, adds Manning, “We won’t know for sure until it’s been out for a while and people have had a chance to hammer on them.”

The Adobe Creative Suite 3 tsunami will hit shelves in the third quarter of this year, with pricing for Photoshop CS3 at $999 for new customers or $649 for upgrades, and the special versions all retailing for varying amounts more.

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