As the press prepares to cover the release of Ubuntu 17.04, it should be clear in the tech industry just how big of a player Ubuntu is to the ecosystem. While a good bit of reviews will focus on what’s new in the release and what’s headed down the pipeline, I’d like to comment on what’s still missing and better yet, what can be done about it.
What’s missing is a graphics suite and there’s really no excuse for not having one. Yes, we have graphics applications, but there are advantages to having a suite, not just a one-off application that can do something in 12 steps when its competitor can do it in three. The industry leader in this market is Adobe, whose Creative Cloud suite is leaps and bounds away from its competitors in terms of market share.
Of all companies, Canonical should understand why market share matters. Market share translates to a community conversation that reduces the burden of support from the vendor. Need to learn how to do something on Ubuntu and with a quick Google search there are hundreds of helpful responses to the same question from the community. Want to know how to change someone’s eye color on a photo and your search will return with YouTube videos explaining just that.
Lynda.com (an online courseware website) has precisely 1 series on Gimp, but 23,932 on Photoshop. These numbers are a good indicator of market demand for a product. The real problem here isn’t recognizing demand; it’s charting a course to satisfy that demand.
From what I can see, Adobe’s not going to be bullied into porting their software. If bullying and requests worked then the numerous forum requests for Photoshop on Linux would have made their mark years ago. They haven’t been the catalyst people had hoped for, but we do have a potential catalyst in the community, Mark Shuttleworth.
Canonical’s recent past provides a template that can lead us to a solution. While exploring the mobile side of Linux, Canonical has developed SNAPs. They’ve also learned as an organization to work with outside partners. I can run Ubuntu inside of Windows! That would have been a blasphemous statement ten years ago and now it’s very much a reality. It happened because Canonical is uniquely positioned and willing to partner in the market.
Another aspect that gives Canonical a unique advantage is the ability of the ecosystem to adopt its choices. While more innovation may occur on bleeding edge distros, more adoption occurs through decisions at Canonical. Ubuntu is the base for not only its flavors, but a lot of derivatives. Where it goes a large part of the market goes. If Adobe wanted to move into Linux, Ubuntu would be a key part of that strategy.
Mark Shuttleworth took the bold idea of convergence and went and built the most popular indiegogo campaign of 2014. The campaign didn’t reach its goal, but it didn’t fail to garner the attention that moved the tech community forward. I think it’s time for Mark to try another round on indiegogo, and this time being the attention back on the desktop. Run a campaign for funding to buy the first license for Photoshop on Ubuntu. Call Adobe and ask for the price tag and let us help you pay for it. Once they’ve got one customer, they’ll be able to have more. It’ll shift the burden of production costs from Adobe to the market and prove at the same time that there’s market demand to justify that shift. This campaign needs a face, and there’s no one better than Mark.
Mark, Ask for the full Creative Cloud Suite, but get started with Photoshop and let the momentum build from there. Start soon and you can have the campaign coincide with Photoshop being delivered in time for 18.04, the next long term release.
When I first used Ubuntu it had the motto of Linux for human beings. It was a great tag line to tell the world how your software choices were going to match the needs of the market. I’d like to see that tagline return and have the needs of market extend beyond the nerds who know and understand why ZFS is significant. I’d like to see the tagline apply to folks who truly want to get things done and need a suite that will elegantly allow us to do just that. If I get more choices when I run open source software why can’t I get to choose to run the best software for my work flow?
Mark, give Adobe a call and I’ll gladly give from my wallet to help make it a reality.