Aviary vs. Adobe and the ultimate Photoshop contests

Zip up!  This incredible image effect was created by the user meowza using the Aviary Phoenix Image Editor.

Zip up! This incredible image effect was created by the user meowza using the Aviary Phoenix Image Editor.

If you love to beta test, head over to Aviary and check out the new graphic design application suite in development. With names such as Phoenix, Peacock and Toucan, Aviary has taken graphic design to a whole new level with the lofty goal of offering professional-quality, powerful web-based design applications.

Instead of downloading software onto your computer, you complete your work in an online environment (like Google Docs). The suite includes a vector editor a la Illustrator, an image editor a la Photoshop, and Aviary has plans to introduce a 3-D modeler, video and audio applications and more. In an apparent effort to usurp Adobe as the King of Design Software, the company intends to offer professional access for around $10 per month (far less than the CS4 Suite, which starts out around $1,000). Aviary also offers a free version so users can learn the tools.

The people responsible for Aviary are the same ones behind Worth1000, which has some very unique Photoshop contests you can enter — or you can just check out the submissions for inspiration. One of my personal favorites invites contestants to create a ghostly image in a classical work of art (whereby you turn one of the subjects into a ghost and reveal the background behind).

This is smart marketing, because Aviary is offering: 1) free use of powerful web applications, enticing you to upgrade to the professional version; and 2) a community with which to share interesting designs through contests, a blog and other resources (notice the large ad for Aviary at the top of the Worth1000 pages).

Smart marketing, but only time will tell whether Aviary can begin to take market share from Adobe — arguably a very tough act to follow.

Now, your homework: Beta test the Aviary products and compare them to your Adobe applications. Do the web-based applications measure up to the desktop applications? What are the pros and cons of both? Would you consider switching to Aviary from Adobe? Why or why not?

7 Responses to Aviary vs. Adobe and the ultimate Photoshop contests

  1. Nikos May 8, 2009 at 1:32 am #

    They may be able too, but I feel adobe will always be king

  2. Brian May 8, 2009 at 1:41 pm #

    Nikos, I think many share your sentiment. Adobe certainly represents the most popular professional design software, and I don’t expect that to change any time soon.

    Still, there’s something to be said for making a move into Software as a Service. Many believe that SaaS is the future of software. I think that as the business world becomes more comfortable with storing sensitive information (such as client logo concepts) in an online environment, the more realistic it is that professional design firms would employ the use of such software. Salesforce.com already does this, and one could argue that the contents of a good CRM database represent proprietary information, indeed.

    Aviary might be more of an “in-betweener’s” tool; a suite of services used by intermediate designers such as private webmasters. I do know that the people behind Aviary have stated that the platform is not intended to compete with Adobe products.

    I also realize that Adobe is not oblivious to software trends. If the company feels there is a market for a professional suite distributed SaaS-style, then it will undoubtedly make that move.

    You’re right – Adobe is king. Still, even Rome’s days were numbered.

  3. Nikos May 9, 2009 at 4:43 am #

    valid points Brian thanks

  4. Brian May 13, 2009 at 5:23 am #

    Ahh… I looked into it a bit more and it seems Adobe does indeed have plans to implement Software as a Service – though the company said in 2007 that it might take as long as ten years to transition enterprise software such as Photoshop to a web-based platform.

    The king isn’t going to relinquish the throne easily! Nikos, thank you again for your thoughtful comments.

  5. Nikos May 13, 2009 at 5:26 am #

    to get photoshop into a flex app like aviary would be a huge task


  6. PoetGrant February 26, 2011 at 10:13 am #

    I compared these two for about a month and it seems that Aviary has something going for them. Though it is true that Adobe will eventually move to the web, that give Aviary that much more time to improve the quality of their product. I really hope a real competitor like Aviary hits the market if for no other reason than to drive down the price of Adobe.

  7. Brian March 3, 2011 at 12:43 pm #


    Thank your for your post, and wow! I would love to learn more about your comparison – what features did you compare? Did you create the same/similar artwork in both? What were your findings?

    It would be great if we could do a side-by-side, screenshot-by-screenshot (or video) comparison of turning an “A” into a “B” in Photoshop and Aviary. We could count the steps, rate the complexity of tasks, and judge the final products. You’ve given me inspiration!

    On the competition note – yes, I think you and me and everyone else out there would love to see a viable competitor who could at the very least drive down Adobe’s somewhat-ridiculous prices!

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