Adobe rolls out Illustrator for iPad
By Nico Grant
Adobe is bringing its second iconic app to Apple's iPad tablet after a challenging rollout for Photoshop, part of the software maker's effort to hold on to artists and designers shifting to work on mobile devices.
Illustrator, an app that lets users make graphics, logos and other ground-up designs, is now generally available to iPad users, the San Jose, California-based company said Tuesday in a statement. The app has been reimagined for the tablet, with a simpler interface but professional-level functionality, the software maker said.
"For Illustrator for iPad, what we did is what you could call the Nike approach, where you identify athletes you want to make this for," Scott Belsky, Adobe's chief product officer and the executive vice president of Creative Cloud, said in an interview. The company focused on how "really great illustrators" would want to use the software on the device, he said.
Adobe announced the app as part of its MAX creative conference, which is virtual to limit the spread of Covid-19. The company has aggressively developed new apps and features -- especially for phones and tablets -- as the almost 38-year-old business expands to keep up with its users beyond computer desktops.
Adobe has dominated the graphics and visual software industry for decades and has seen its stock rise in the past 10 years almost 15-fold.
The transition to mobile devices has presented an opportunity for upstarts, which have been gaining ground while Adobe undertook the thorny work of re-engineering mature apps for a different platform. As a result, Photoshop for iPad came out very differently than the desktop app.
Belsky said when Adobe promised "real Photoshop," some users expected "full Photoshop," with all of the features of the standard version. Early customers of the mobile version panned the app online, though Adobe has since made updates and it now has a more than four-star rating in Apple's App Store. Belsky said that one lesson from the Photoshop launch is to let consumers test the app for a longer period of time before making it widely available.
Photoshop's iPad app has reached about 2.6 million global installations since its launch in November 2019, according to estimates from research firm Sensor Tower.
Belsky said that part of Adobe's mobile strategy is offering apps that can be downloaded at no cost, including Photoshop Express Photo Editor, to attract more consumers to the company's products because they may later upgrade to paid accounts. He acknowledged that design-software competition is intensifying with startups such as Canva and Figma emerging as rivals.
"Competition is oftentimes the impetus to act," Belsky said. "I look at our products and the mission is very simple. Our products need to become systems. That requires that old-school desktop files become cloud documents, it requires that people can be collaborative even at the beginning of their work."