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Adobe to Give Creatives New Gizmos

Adobe to Give Creatives New Gizmos

Adobe is inching into the hardware space with a couple of new items for the digital artist's toolbox -- a pen and a ruler compatible with its Creative Cloud software. However, "Adobe is lacking control over one key aspect of these devices, and it's the tablets," noted Web designer Kris Black. "Adobe is still relying on tablets made from other manufacturers."

By Rachelle Dragani
09/18/13 12:55 PM PT

Adobe will pair hardware devices with its creative software suite next year when it launches a cloud pen and a digital ruler that work with tablets.

The company plans to release its Mighty digital pen, a thin-tipped stylus designed to help digital artists have more control over their creativity while drawing on a tablet screen. The pressure-sensitive pen comes with color and tip tools that allow artists to draw lines of varied widths and colors. The device uses Bluetooth to connect to Adobe's Creative Cloud software.

Adobe's Mighty Pen, Napoleon Ruler and Parallel App for the iPad
Adobe's Mighty Pen, Napoleon Ruler and Parallel App for the iPad

To produce the Mighty, Adobe is teaming with Adonit, which has hardware experience making the Jot tablet stylus.

Adobe also plans to release the Napoleon, a digital ruler that makes it easy for artists to draw precise lines, edges or other shapes on tablet screens.

Both devices are designed with what Adobe terms "the new creatives" in mind -- a generation of artists and tinkerers who now have a variety of new tools, both analog and digital, at their disposal. Both are scheduled in the first half of 2014.

Adobe also plans to release two iOS apps -- Parallel, a drafting app, and Contour, an app that helps artists capture and create outlines. Both are optimized to work with the Mighty and the Napoleon.

Making It Seamless

If Adobe can produce devices that stand out from the crowd, the company's foray into the hardware arena could be an exciting development for designers, architects, artists and developers, said Kris Black, a Web designer and the author of Squarespace 6 for Dummies.

"If companies like Adobe can make creating art digital in a way that the technology doesn't interfere with creativity, then I think we'll start to see more and more people using digital tools to create art," he told the E-Commerce Times.

Along with setting a reasonable price point, it will be crucial that Adobe tie in its software to the devices, said Black. There are already similar stylus tools available to digital artists, but if Adobe can produce a device that has seamless integration with its creative software, then the Mighty and the Napoleon would come out way ahead of the competition.

"The strongest features of these Adobe devices will be how they integrate with Adobe's software," Black emphasized. "Apple has proven that when you can control the hardware and software, you can make huge, game-changing advancements in technology and how people interact with your products."

Software at Its Core

In addition to offering its own hardware, Adobe might need to strengthen its relationships with tablet makers to help users get even more out of products like the Mighty and the Napoleon, Black noted.

"Adobe is lacking control over one key aspect of these devices, and it's the tablets. Adobe is still relying on tablets made from other manufacturers," he added. "If Adobe could strengthen their partnerships with hardware manufacturers like Wacom and Apple, I think they could make deeper innovations with their drawing devices."

Adobe won't stray from its core software business even if its hardware efforts prove to be successful, said Trip Chowdhry, senior analyst for Global Equities Research. However, the company has shown that it is willing to try new ways to get creative people interested in its software, and that's an initiative that won't stop even if the products turn out to be a flop.

"Adobe is a software company at heart, but it has also been good about overseeing a transition of its software to the cloud and anticipating how the market is shifting," he told the E-Commerce Times. "They are willing to try out new initiatives that will enhance their software, and we're going to continue to see that attitude from the company."


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