Adobe Launches Beta of Photoshop Express

The free online service provides image correction, editing and storage capabilities.

When it comes to brands in the digital graphics domain, possibly the strongest and most trusted is Adobe Photoshop. When you encounter the word Photoshop, you naturally assume anything connected with it is at a professional level. At least, that was at one time the case. In one of the most audacious examples of brand extension in the realm of graphics and publishing, Adobe has spent the last few years resolutely moving the Photoshop brand into a range of market sectors, some professional, some not.

First out of the gate was Photoshop Elements, geared to middle-level photographers, followed by Photoshop Lightroom, a tool for professional and prosumer shooters. Now we have Photoshop Express, designed for... well, just about anybody. As Doug Mack, vice president of Consumer and Hosted Solutions at Adobe, puts it, "Photoshop is trusted technology that has changed the visual landscape of our world. Now, Photoshop Express allows anyone who snaps a digital photo to easily achieve the high-impact results for which Adobe is known." Will Adobe be able to pull this off without dilution of the Photoshop brand, one of its greatest assets? Time will tell but so far, so good.

Currently available in a beta version, and for US residents only (apparently for performance issues), Express lets users upload images and sort, modify and display them in slideshow-driven galleries, and also share them in a variety of ways. A generous 2 gigabytes of storage is provided, and photo editing capabilities include the inevitable red-eye and blemish removal features, as well as typical operations such as resizing and cropping. There are also some rather dubious image transformation effects, such as Pop Color and (the horror) Distort. Express is very much designed to be used by bloggers and the social networking crowd, so perhaps Adobe figures that dramatically exaggerating an image is what such a predominantly younger user craves. It will be interesting to see what user suggestions provided during the beta cycle make it into the final version of the service. Please, no Page Curl.