Adobe Acrobat 9: PDF gets movie support, goes SaaS

Posted by Wolfgang Gruener

San Jose (CA) – Adobe today released a new version of its document management software Acrobat. Flash movies are now natively supported and can be embedded into PDF documents and viewed through a new version of the free Acrobat Reader. Perhaps even more significant is Adobe’s continued push into the software-as-a-service (SaaS) segment, introducing a fancy interface for a simple online word processor, a screen sharing applications as well as a file sharing platform.

Generation #9 of Acrobat integrates the Macromedia-developed Flash format for the first time and holds the potential to not only include text, graphics, notes and links, but animations and movies as well.  Flash Player compatible video and application files can now be integrated into PDF documents.

The new software also offers content authors to combine multiple types in a relatively easy way into a single document using the PDF Portfolios feature. PDF Portfolios supports multiple media types such as documents, video, audio and 3D objects and can combine everything into one compressed PDF file. Users can organize the content through their own or prepared layouts covering content and navigation.

Acrobat is offered in three versions, Acrobat 9 Pro Extended, Acrobat 9 Pro and Acrobat 9 Standard, all of which are expected to become available in July of this year. Acrobat 9 Pro Extended is expected to be available for $699, Acrobat 9 Pro for $449 and Acrobat 9 Standard for $299.

Adobe continues its Internet services strategy, which was recently highlighted by an online version of its flagship application Photoshop. Acrobat.com is now the home for what Adobe envisions to become a content creation, management and sharing platform. Based on Adobe’s AIR technology, Acrobat.com includes the word processor Buzzword, a file organizer, a PDF creator (limited to five files), a file sharing service as well as a collaboration and screens haring service called “ConnectNow”. ConnectNow also comes with video and voice conferencing, and integrated chat.

 

Slowly but surely, Adobe is making more than just small steps in the SaaS arena. Between Google, Microsoft and companies such as Adobe, these mainstream productivity applications are a huge playground of what is widely believed to be the next business opportunity for software. Compared to your Office suite on your PC, these applications are not as elaborate, but are carving out their markets by offering online services that focus on collaboration and file sharing. For now, most of these services are available free of charge. Users can log in to Acrobat.com using the same login as for Photoshop Express.  

ConnectNow in fact is an impressive first try into the screen sharing segment, offering users an opportunity to set up collaboration sessions in very little time. In our test run, screen sharing as well as invitations to participants were sent out in about 90 seconds. What makes ConnectNow especially attractive is that users can either chat via text or voice over the PC or simple call into the conference. A phone number and participant IDs are currently provided free of charge as well.

Some of the limitations of Acrobat.com are currently indicated in the beta services license agreement posted on Acrobat.com. According to the service agreement, all applications are only licensed to individuals and not to businesses. As it is the case with all online content services you have to be aware that someone else is safeguarding your content – a step which is out of your control. Adobe states that “If you maintain confidential information, trade secrets, or other sensitive information on the Services, you are solely responsible for implementing safeguards for such information that are additional to the security measures the Services provide.”

However, the company Adobe claims it “has implemented technical safeguards and procedures to help protect communications with the Services including communication of content and information.” In terms of releasing content to third parties, the company says that it “will only disclose content and information in accordance with instructions provided by [the user] through use of the services and as otherwise provided in the Adobe Online Privacy Policy.”

The most obvious restriction is storage space. Adobe already says that “retains the right to create reasonable limits on your use of content, such as limits on file size, storage space, processing capacity, time frames for retention of content, and similar limitations as otherwise determined by Adobe in its sole discretion.”