Adobe to Offer A Free Online Version of Photoshop.

cs3 iconAccording to reports, Adobe Systems plans to release a hosted version of its popular Photoshop image-editing application within six months.

Adobe, whose business is built largely around packaged software that is installed locally on users’ computers, is looking to diversify its business with online services.

This would essentially be a paired down, ad supported version of Photoshop with some basic image manipulation tools…kind of a kid brother to the more complete Adobe Photoshop Elements and the upcoming full Photoshop CS3 package.

This is undoubtedly an attempt to keep up with Google and it’s offering of free online web applications. Adobe plans to make the hosted Photoshop version comprehensive enough to compete with Google’s wildy popular Picasa free image editing/gallery creation application.

Adobe has already launched some web based applications, most recently Remix, a new web-based video editing tool that will be provided free to all Photobucket members. The company already offers Acrobat Connect, a service for Web conferencing introduced with the most recent release of its Acrobat PDF reader.

Inital response to the announcement has been mixed but I guess we’ll wait a while to see how well Adobe does as it brings Photoshop into the webware arena.