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Cash cow out of the barn: Adobe shipping CS5

Creative Suite 5, Adobe's sprawling new suite, is now available. The software also is dragged into the company's rivalry with Apple.

Adobe Systems

The official debut was two weeks ago, and now Adobe Systems is actually delivering its Creative Suite 5 software to customers.

The CS5 software spans a broad range of uses--image editing in Photoshop and Photoshop Extended, video editing in Premiere Pro, Flash application creation in Flash Pro, Web page design in Dreamweaver, and more. New to the suite is Flash Catalyst, geared to let designers without much programming experience convert application mock-ups created in Illustrator or Photoshop into working Flash applications.

Adobe sells these programs alone or packages them up into suites tailored for various market segments. At the very top end is the $2,599 Master Collection, which includes everything. The designer-oriented Design Premium costs $1,799.

The prices aren't exactly low, but Adobe counts on new abilities and time-saving improvements to help professionals justify the expense of upgrading. For example, Photoshop CS5 comes with new tools for selecting complex subjects, and Premiere Pro includes the "Mercury" engine for video playback that can tap into the computer's graphics processor.

In something of a departure, though, Adobe is also moving to subscription revenue through an online service called CS Live.

Taking some of the wind out of Adobe's sails is Apple's recent move to block Flash Pro's headline feature, the ability to convert Flash applications into native iPhone applications. After that move earlier this month, Adobe ceased development of the Flash-to-iPhone feature, offering choice words about Apple's "closed" software system. In return, Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs just this week lambasted Flash as yesterday's technology.

Although the debate began with Flash, Jobs broadened his criticism to the entire Creative Suite team.

"Adobe has been painfully slow to adopt enhancements to Apple's platforms. For example, although Mac OS X has been shipping for almost 10 years now, Adobe just adopted it fully (Cocoa) two weeks ago when they shipped CS5. Adobe was the last major third-party developer to fully adopt Mac OS X," Jobs said.

Cocoa is the modern programming interface to Mac OS X and the only one to support 64-bit processors; with CS5, Adobe started switching to it from the Carbon interface that also worked on the older Mac OS 9 and 8 lineage.

Evidently Jobs' gripe rankled in some quarters at Adobe. "Adobe is now shipping twice as many 64-bit Cocoa pro apps as Apple. #lazy," Photoshop Principal Product Manager John Nack twittered Thursday.

And for all Jobs' griping about slow transitions, Apple's own Final Cut Studio remains a 32-bit Carbon application.

Below is Adobe's pricing and package configurations chart for CS5.

A chart of the Creative Suite 5 products.
Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET