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Why Adobe’s move to the cloud is a future victory for Apple

AP/Paul Sakuma
Say goodbye to shrink-wrapped copies of Photoshop—and Apple’s sub-par cloud services.
By Christopher Mims
United StatesPublished Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Adobe yesterday said it would no longer sell its software, including Photoshop and other elements of its wildly popular Creative Suite, the old-fashioned way. Instead, you’ll have to buy a subscription.

It’s a validation of a long-term strategy Adobe has been refining for years, to move people from purchasing software for thousands of dollars up front, instead subscribing to it for as little as $50 a month. This strategy was first revealed in August 2012, and was incubated under the company’s then-CTO, Kevin Lynch, who was in charge of every part of the company’s broad strategy, from fighting Apple over Flash to the move to the cloud.

And where is Lynch now? Apple. In March 2013, Lynch resigned from Adobe and headed to Apple as the vice president of technology. What’s he doing there? Why, probably trying to improve Apple’s ability to compete in cloud services, noted Forrester analyst Jeffrey Hammond.

This is key: For the most part, Apple isn’t that great at the cloud, and could see a mass defection of people if the best platform for using, say, Google’s cloud services becomes something other than the iPhone and iPad. Now that Adobe, long a stalwart of the old model of selling and distributing software—expensive, shrink-wrapped boxes containing gigabytes of code designed to run on high-end PCs—has moved to the cloud, it’s reasonable to imagine that the person who led that shift could do the same for Apple.

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