Adobe Systems has committed to shipping a beta version of its online image-editing tool, Photoshop Express, this year, and said it will be complete in 2008.
"By late this year, we anticipate having a beta version," said John Loiacono, senior vice president for Adobe Creative Solutions, speaking at the 6sight digital imaging conference here. And next year, the online service will be "available to anyone," he said.
Loiacono showed Photoshop Express running on an Adobe server connected over the Internet, he said. But when the average person experiences the software, it likely will be through partners such as Shutterfly or Photobucket, he said.
Unsurprisingly, Loiacono left unmentioned Flickr, which said in October it will use Picnik's online photo-editing tools.
Photoshop Express is a profoundly important project, and Adobe's schedule indicates that its repercussions are near-term and not academic.
For Adobe, the project is the spearhead of a transformation from a seller of boxed software to a provider of services in an increasingly rich Internet experience. And for the industry overall, it signals that Internet technology is maturing enough that companies are willing risk extending the brand of respected PC software to the network.
Photoshop Express, as its name suggests, isn't a full-fledged version of Photoshop proper or even of its hobbyist-oriented sibling, Photoshop Elements. The intent is to reach a much larger audience than the company currently reaches with its higher-end boxed software products.