Adobe Systems Inc. helped to shape the Desktop Publishing revolution of the 90s through its PostScript and PDF technology and such products as Adobe Illustrator, and it played an equally pivotal role in the emergence of digital imaging, providing key software applications such as Adobe Photoshop and standards proposals for file formats or media interchange technologies such as SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) and the DNG (Digital Negative) format for professional digital photography. On the enterprise side, Adobe Acrobat and PDF have become the basis of a multilayered electronic document strategy. Shantanu Narayen, president and chief operating officer of Adobe, spoke with Andreas Pfeiffer, editor of the Pfeiffer Report for Emerging Trends and Technologies, about Adobes midterm perspective, the biggest opportunities and challenges for the company, emerging paradigm changes in technology, and the role of Adobe products in a cross-platform environment.
What do you see is the biggest opportunity for Adobe in a two-to-five-year perspective?
Well, if I take Adobe as a company, we have three major opportunities. On the creative professional side, there is still a lot of room to allow people to use more of our products. We are very excited about the prospects of video because we see the explosive growth of DVD playback, as well as broadband.
Video is a very compelling media and we think that over the next couple of years, all the creative professionals will look to extend their information to video. So video is one area that is of a lot of interest to us.
Another area of interest is also what happens to all these alternative devices. The number of devices that connect to the Internet other than PCs is going to exceed the number of PC devices connected to the Internet. So, how are people going to consume information on that? How are people going to create information for these devices? That is an area that we continue to spend a lot of our time and effort on.
I would continue to say, in larger companies, larger publishing houses, the whole area of workflow and integration with other systems that they have—that also is a total area of interest for us. And also what you are seeing on the enterprise side with our document server and our document services solutions. We are talking about publishing but on an enterprise scale. Those are among the areas that we think of as major opportunities.
Integration was an important feature of the first release of the Adobe Creative Suite. What do you see as the biggest challenges for going ahead with this?
The amount of creative ideas that exists in the world of Adobe is huge. So one of our challenges is always: How do you prioritize all these good ideas that you have? And how do you integrate the good ideas that we have with customers feedback?
The PDF workflow, even the whole notion of this digital master and how you take that from creative all the way out to print is another important aspect. There is still a lot of room for how we can get people to truly embrace this notion of a digital master all the way out. So thats a challenge of how we continue to have people look at the benefits of PDF for workflow.
But we realized that we had to really segment the product line. Because a number of things that we were doing for the creative professionals (color separations, preflighting …), a lot of the other customers really didnt require these functionalities. With the Acrobat Professional product we have really focused on the needs of the creative community.
Another aspect is to embrace PDF within the whole of our applications as their interchange format, whether that is for annotation or for sharing a digital master. So again that is an area where we have a lot of ideas as [to] how we can continue to enhance things.
Another challenge has to do with finding assets; the Photoshop file browser is a first step in that direction. One of the things that attracts us and intrigues us is: How do you create a desktop in which people can immerse themselves? If you are a creative professional, you think visually much more than in terms of file names. How can we create a more immersive experience or environment in which you are looking at your creation, whether it is an artwork, or an image file, or a page layout?