Google to take on Adobe?

The growing dissatisfaction with Adobe’s exodus to the cloud and the accompanying subscription licensing model shows no sign of abating.

Thousands of designers have been searching for alternatives to Creative Cloud products, but with Adobe’s near-monopoly on professional grade web design software alternate applications are thin on the ground.

The time is right it seems, for an internet giant to step into the breach…

The biggest name on the web, perhaps the biggest name anywhere, is Google and they already provide business tools that many professionals can’t live without; most of us use Google Drive where once we may have used Microsoft’s Office, and most people access Google Mail numerous times per day.

Google haven’t previously looked like making a play for the huge web design market however, a curious decision given that they hold exclusive rights to the browser with the largest market share (it’s Chrome for anyone who’s been on the ISS for a decade).

That looks about to change. Buried at the bottom of a DoubleClick blog post, Google ‘let slip’ that its new product “Google Web Designer” will be launching in the next few months:

To help advertisers and publishers more seamlessly unlock the potential of cross-device programs, we are investing in a new HTML5 creative development tool – Google Web Designer. Available in the coming months, Google Web Designer will empower creative professionals to create cutting-edge advertising as well as engaging web content like sites and applications – for free. Google Web Designer will be seamlessly integrated with DoubleClick Studio and AdMob, greatly simplifying the process of building HTML5 creative that can be served through Google platforms.

Let’s be clear: it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be switching to a “Google Creative Suite” style product line anytime soon. “Google Web Designer” is expected to be an enhanced version of Google’s already available Google Sites — which isn’t going to threaten Adobe’s market position.

What we’re expecting — and at this point it’s mere speculation — is some kind of hybrid of Chrome’s Developer Tools and Adobe’s Edge tools.

Whilst details are very thin on the ground, what we do know is that the new application will be free. That should make the likes of Squarespace, 1and1, and sit up and take notice. Google’s revenue stream will be driven by integration with its advertising.

It seems a stretch to think that Google Web Designer could replace Creative Cloud applications, but then it wasn’t that long ago that people thought of WordPress as “just a blogging tool”. So make room on your résumé, you may well find Google Web Designer becoming a marketable skill in the next 12 months.

Do you think Google Web Designer will be suitable for professionals? What features are you hoping to see? Let us know in the comments.

Featured image/thumbnail, web designer image via Shutterstock.

  • Chris Steurer

    I think this is really smart on behalf of Google, however I’m convinced in any way that Adobe needs to feel worried at this point. Like you said in your article, this is more so a threat to web hosting companies that offer web builder tools. It’s too early to tell, but this will likely not have any significant industry changing effects upon launch, what happens after that could be interesting though.

  • jaystrab

    Nothing would change. GIMP is awful to work with.

  • rick gregory

    If people are upset at Adobe moving to a subscription model how is this better? Let’s say it magically was a match for Creative Suite on a feature basis. If it’s free, yay. But if there’s a charge for a pro version it’s… a subscription. Google isn’t about to do standalone desktop software that you pay for an upgrade in the old manner so I’m confused here.

  • Iain MacDonald

    Sorry, but no.

    “…you may well find Google Web Designer becoming a marketable skill in the next 12 months.” — I cannot take that seriously for 5 seconds or less. I think it’s interesting that Google are going to provide tools for Web Design and Development, but I don’t expect it to light the world on fire, at all. I also can’t see it being a competitor to Adobe in any way.

    Let’s get something pretty clear: Adobe isn’t tying anyone down with their subscription service (and I highly doubt you will get a better deal anywhere else), if anything, it’s making access to their applications and services as a whole even easier than before. Google isn’t going to compete with that even if it’s a specific part of the creative industry, and I can’t take Google seriously for things like this right now.

    Yes, they’re building a great browser engine. Yes, they’ve got great DevTools. And yes, they have good online applications for every day use. No, I don’t think their new Designer tools is going to last let alone take off completely. Google is seemingly trying to corner the web development world but I can’t see this being anything better than what Adobe is already doing, and I used to hate their WYSIWYGs but I have to admit, even if Zeldman is impressed by this new and fresh-faced Adobe, I have to say I need no better clarity.

    ADHD Version: Google’s making web tools, I don’t see it superseding Adobe’s ones, and I don’t take this article very seriously at all.

  • bgbs

    Timm, sharing is highly overrated. I personally care less about sharing my work with other creatives, but I do share my work the my clients. Engaging in creative community is time consuming with very little profit. Secondly, I never bought into Adobe’s Master Collection. Web Premium was more than enough for me, and since the upgrade happened every 2-3 years (not every year) it was cheaper.

  • Benjie

    Of course it’s just a tool, but if studios are looking for applicants with experience of Google Adwords right now (and they are) then it’s a no-brainer that a product developed to tie in with that program will not look out of place on a résumé.

    Of course, how useful Google Web Designer turns out to be really depends on the complexity of Google’s ambition for the application; but to suggest that HTML/CSS replaces design tools, or that knowledge of design tools precludes an understanding of web technologies is obtuse to say the least.

  • Tzvi Perlow

    My prediction, and what I would do if I were the great Google…

    Google won’t make anything free of charge unless they can put advertisements or make any type of direct or indirect money off an extra service for commercial. You can’t quite put ads into a program like Photoshop, but you can make a market worth commercial version, that would feature networking the users, designers whatever / internal program memory etc., and make money off that (just as they sell extra memory for Drive etc.)

    What Google might do, eventually, is actually build up a separate open source company, let it grow, let it get built by the common user, then they will take it over and super-ize it (as they did with Android), then sell it for a much lower price than Photoshop or the above.

    *If they did sell it, it would probably be given free if you bought a Chromebook, Fiber etc.

  • Lulie

    The deal is that you US guys pay 50$ and we in Europe should pay almost the double for the same exact service. If the prices weren’t so unbalanced I would be already using it, and many like me are not going to test the CC unless this price issue will turn into equality or anything closely.

  • A.Vox

    Has anyone ever used Sketch by BohemianCoding? I tried it and was astounded at how good it was. It’s Mac only (unfortunately) but it’s really good. It’s not a replacement for Photoshop but can absolutely be an Illustrator/Fireworks replacement. Flat 60 bucks.

  • websnap

    Not exactly sure why I got a thumbs down, Apple is the only major company to create anything that competes with Adobe products on a larger scale – plus they have the ear of designers.

  • Michael Janik

    I guess it will be an anoying web application where many steps need a lot of loading time.

  • chie

    It puts a heavy strain on smaller businesses and individual users who can’t afford it in the long run. One upfront payment, while still expensive, is infinitely cheaper than $20-$50/month over the course of several years. Also, the Master Collection is not something a small business or individual usually needs – the solid combo of Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, plus or minus Dreamweaver or Flash is much more practical. But it’s not much cheaper than the full package in the Creative Cloud model.