Pixelmator – A Successful Alternative to Adobe Photoshop

If you’ve been following this website, you might have detected a strong hatred toward Adobe. I consider their software to be overrated, bloated and expensive. Sure, Photoshop and Illustrator were great — BACK IN THE MID 90’s — but the software just hasn’t progressed all that much since then. True, there are some nice new features in the latest version of Adobe’s Creative Suite. Are these features worth hundreds of dollars? I don’t think so. That’s why I purchased Pixelmator. I like to encourage competition!

Oh sure, die-hard designers will cry, “You can make back that money in one freelance job.” This is also true. Yet, couldn’t the same be said for many other tools? Is that supposed to the standard? A hammer could be used for a lot projects but I can get one for about a dollar. The fact that I can make or save a lot of money with a hammer is irrelevant.

I started searching for alternatives to Adobe’s Creative Suite and I was finding success. InDesign is pretty a good program. I liked it because it was competition for Quark XPress. But today, I’ve been using Pages by Apple. It’s a fairly decent replacement. Quark XPress 8 is $799,  InDesign CS5 $699, while Pages ’09 is $19.99. I think the difference in price is a bit nuts. It’s not like InDesign is 35 times better than Pages. Apple’s software actually does some things better than InDesign.

If I could find alternatives to InDesign, couldn’t I find an alternative to Photoshop?

In my search, I learned about Pixelmator. I recently switched my main desktop computer to a Mac, so I was looking for a good image editing program. I couldn’t just port over my copy of Adobe Creative Suite 4 Design Premium. Adobe wanted me to upgrade first. That would set me back about $600. It just wasn’t worth that much to me. There are so many other ways to edit images. I decided that I would try Pixelmator instead. It seems like no contest… $29.99 vs $599.99.

Lots of other people decided to buy Pixelmator too. :)

In less than 20 days, Pixelmator grossed a million dollars in sales. That’s over 33,000 copies. Apparently, I’m not the only one who’s weary with Adobe.

My Mac App Store purchase wasn’t just about admiration for Pixelmator. It was also about hate for Adobe. My copy of CS4 is not something that I can just reinstall. I have to call the company and get an authorization code. It’s not a small program either. Pixelmator is about 100 MB. Photoshop needs about 10-20 times that amount of storage space. The official website states Photoshop CS4 for Mac requires “2GB of available hard-disk space for installation”. It seems Pixelmator isn’t just about saving money. It can save disk space too.

Pixelmator is pretty good, but I still think Photoshop is better. The lack of robust type and layer effects is an issue. I knew that before buying a copy of Pixelmator. Maybe the Mac App Store will do to software what the iTunes App Store did for mobile games.

As an example, I bought The Game of Life and Scrabble (Electronic Arts) for 99¢ each. Scrabble for the Nintendo DS is like $30. Last month, I bought nine new iOS games for less than $10. On traditional gaming consoles, it’s difficult to find ONE decent game at that price.

The Mac App Store can make money for software developers. As the world realizes that fact, I suspect that competition in the software market will grow. The Pixelmator team is clearly excited by their recent success. They took a big gamble by turning Pixelmator into a Mac App Store exclusive. That decision seems to have worked out — and that’s ultimately bad news for Adobe. The success of Pixelmator puts pressure on Adobe to rethink it’s position. If the Adobe Creative Suite isn’t adapted to engage the competition, then the competition has a better chance at success.