As the photography industry touts the latest professional software tools, namely Adobe Lightroom, behind the scenes the industry is experiencing a shift away from these standalone software applications in favor of a Web 2.0 implementation.
Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the Internet as platform. Most of us have observed Google’s successful launch of its hosted online small business solution, Google Docs, and I believe the imaging industry will come into its own with fully hosted solutions for professional photographers.
Imagine having the ability to edit and share, archive and back up, and collaborate right over the Internet with a client or a photo agency anywhere in the world. In fact, the only limitation would be that of Internet accessibility, and in some instances, online security.
In an effort to keep pace with the competition, last year Adobe CEO Bruce Chizen announced the company intends to offer entirely hosted applications, as well as “hybrids,” in which Adobe uses the Internet to introduce features to desktop products, such as Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.
The Adobe Photoshop fully hosted product, Photoshop Express, is slated to be ad supported and is not a replacement for Photoshop CS3 or Adobe Lightroom. However, I think as modest as the Adobe Express product may seem, this will serve as a baseline experiment for Adobe to develop more robust Web 2.0 hosted solutions that will target professional photographers.
In order to continue to deliver value to its marketplace, Adobe will have to be nimble and strategically position its photography software brands to go from traditional and hybrid solutions to a fully hosted online professional suite.
If Adobe underestimates its competition and does not establish its dominance in this arena, I predict market share will slowly diminish as Google and Microsoft invest millions in their Net-centric business models, starting with online business suites and then aggressively moving toward online imaging and video suites.
One company that is currently offering a single online photo editing solution is Picnik  based in Seattle. Its Web-based editing tools are platform independent and work on Mac, Windows, and Linux operating systems.
Picnik offers curves and other advanced controls to fine-tune image results. The supported formats are JPEG, PNG, GIF, BMP and TIFF files. Users of Picnik can either upload a single file (“batch processing coming soon”) or access photographs through an application programming interface (API) with Google Picasa, Flickr, or Photobucket.
I would not be the least bit surprised if Google purchased Picnik and decided to aggressively enhance its functionality to meet the need of professional photographers.
This is just one example of what is to come and we will see more photography tools online from similar companies, particularly as falling broadband costs, innovative broadband programming, and new online solutions enhance our images and our workflow.
Although these fully hosted Web 2.0 solutions are in their infancy, particularly within the photography industry, I do believe this evolutionary shift is inevitable as the obsolescence of traditional software draws near.