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?