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Tuesday, 16 June 2009 01:05

Adobe takes Acrobat.com out of beta, launches paid subscriptions

The online collaboration site Acrobat.com, which was in public beta, has officially launched with two paid and one free subscription service, as well as a new spreadsheet application.
The public beta of Acrobat.com began almost exactly a year ago, and, according to Adobe, more than 5 million people have signed up.

The service offers online meetings as well as the ability to upload and convert documents to PDF.

"Our customers have moved from e-mailing multiple versions of documents back and forth to collaborating on documents directly in a fluid online environment,” said Rob Tarkoff, senior vice president in Adobe’s Business Productivity Business Unit.

The new paid subscription plans are, so far, only available in North America. The Premium Basic subscription costs US$14.99 a month or $149 a year and permits up to 5 people to participate in online meetings and the conversion of ten documents a month to PDF.

The Premium Plus subscription costs $39 per month or $390 a year and lets up to 20 people attend a meeting and unlimited creation of PDF files. Through July 16, Adobe is offering discounts of $15 on the Premium Basic annual plan and $50 on the Premium Plus annual plan.

There is also still a free plan, offering online meetings for up to three people and creation of up to five PDF files.

For future plans and new applications, see Page 2.

In the announcement, Adobe described other ways the company is working on enhancing Acrobat.com's online collaboration features.

“Over the next 12 months, we will continue to add powerful yet simple-to-use team collaboration capabilities that establish a new way to work, while removing barriers to getting work done within and across companies and around the world,” said Tarkoff.

For example, the company plans to provide workspaces in which teams can track collaborative documents without having to worry about version control.

There are also plans for mobile access, so that subscribers can use documents on the service from iPhones, Blackberrys, Nokia, and Windows Mobile smartphones.

"Social media style updates," in the company's words, will enable participants to receive messages about what's been done to a document and what's needed next.

Adobe is also continuing to beef up its suite of online applications, which already includes the Buzzword word processor and recently introduced Presentations.

Today the company added the public beta of Tables, a "spreadsheet-like application."

For more on Adobe's online applications, see Page 3.

Acrobat.com Tables runs on Flash 10 and provides browser-based access to basic spreadsheet and database features.

But as part of Acrobat.com, it also enables more than one person to work on the same document at the same time.

Users can even create their own personal views of the shared document, so that they can see the information they need without affecting the work of their collaborators.

Tables, like the Presentations application introduced on May 27, is available through Adobe Labs .

With its minimalist black-and-gray interface, Tables also looks immediately like an Adobe Air application.

Air is Adobe's platform for building rich Internet applications, and the word processor component of Acrobat.com's software suite, Buzzword, actually debuted as an Adobe Air application.

It's not hard to see the direction Adobe is going: browser-based online collaboration tools that can also be spun out into Air applications that enable users to access their online documents outside the browser.

This is, of course, a market that Google, Zoho, and Microsoft have all also set their eyes on.

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