Looking to make money in cloud computing collaboration software versus the likes of Google, Cisco and Microsoft, Adobe Systems June 15 moved Acrobat.com out of public beta with two premium paid subscription services for businesses.
Acrobat.com is a suite of team collaboration tools that includes: the Buzzword word processing application; My Files for file storage; the Share file-sharing application; and ConnectNow, a Web conferencing app that includes desktop sharing, video and voice conferencing and integrated chat.
Since Adobe rolled out Acrobat.com in a free public beta in June 2008, 5 million people have subscribed to the service, a testament to the high-tech world's thirst for productivity apps that live and breathe online, or in the cloud, stored on software maker's servers. Google, Cisco and others such as Zoho have set the stage, with Adobe, Microsoft, IBM and others fervently following.
But Adobe would like some more business users to come on board and work through Acrobat.com in real-time team collaboration scenarios. This could be particularly important in a bear economy when companies are looking to leverage the Internet to communicate instead of traveling to meet face-to-face, Erik Larson, Adobe marketing director, told GigaOm.
To wit, the company unveiled Premium Basic and Premium Plus services. For $14.99 a month or $149 per year, Premium Basic subscribers will get Adobe ConnectNow Web meeting capacity for up to five participants and online conversion of 10 uploaded documents to PDF per month.
For $39 per month or $390 per year, Premium Plus users will use ConnectNow Web meeting capacity for up to 20 participants and unlimited online creation of PDF files. Both services include Adobe phone and Web support programs.
To lure users to its premium online collaboration services, Adobe is offering $15 off the Premium Basic annual plan and $50 off the Premium Plus annual plan until July 16, 2009. Both subscriptions are available from the Adobe.com online store in North America only.
The free Acrobat.com service will continue to offer Buzzword online word processing, ConnectNow Web meeting capacity for up to three participants, and online creation of up to five PDF files.
Adobe today also issued the preview release of Acrobat.com Tables, a spreadsheet application which lets users work on the task lists, schedules, contacts, budgets and sales numbers that are typically created and shared in spreadsheets or simple databases.
Tables lets users conduct concurrent work on the same table so they don't have to e-mail each other spreadsheets back and forth with version updates, tedious time consumption for anyone who has endured it. Indeed, Tables preserves concurrent users' changes so that workers don't cancel out each other's tasks. CNet News' Josh Lowensohn tested Tables and gave it his seal of approval.
Adobe said Tables is available immediately for free sign-up as a public beta on Acrobat.com Labs.
Adobe has the best intentions with Acrobat.com, but it is throwing its hat into a crowded ring for cloud computing collaboration software that includes Google Apps, Cisco WebEx Connect and Microsoft's SharePoint Online suites. These services hit the market at different times and in different iterations, but they all virtually limitless support from the giants who see the online collaboration market as a spectacularly green, multibillion-dollar field.
To help users cut through the decision-making clutter, ReadWriteWeb's Sara Perez compares Adobe Acrobat.com with Google Apps. In short, she says Google Apps is nicer looking but doesn't offer live Web meetings like Adobe does. She asks readers to vote. Which would you pick?
To try to up the ante, Adobe said it is accelerating its feature cycle for Acrobat.com over the next 12 months.
The company will add: mobile access so people can upload, manage and share Acrobat.com documents from iPhone, BlackBerry, Nokia and Windows Mobile smartphones; more real-time document collaboration tools that leverage Adobe's crown jewel Flash; shared team workspaces that let groups of people work on and keep track of documents they need to finish projects; and social networking tools.