Adobe opens Acrobat.com to paying customers

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Adobe opens Acrobat.com to paying customers

Online collaboration service comes out of beta, with added spreadsheet tool.

Adobe has taken its Acrobat.com online collaboration service out of beta, and opened it up as a subscription service.

The firm has also added beta spreadsheet functionality, and plans to make the service available on smartphones.

Acrobat.com was launched in beta in June 2008 as an online space for meetings, and to let users create PDFs, share files and collaborate on documents using the Buzzword word processor.

From today, Adobe is offering Acrobat.com as a subscription service, starting with US customers initially.

No date was given for international availability, but Adobe expected it to roll out to other regions "fairly quickly".

Erik Larsen, director of product management for Acrobat.com, explained that the target market for the service is business people working in teams.

"Everyone knows that lots of time is wasted in inefficient meetings and finding out which is the correct version of a document. There's a US$2 billion opportunity to address this problem," he said.

Still in beta on Acrobat.com Labs is the Presentations tool, which is now joined by a new spreadsheet tool called Tables.

This has special features to support collaborative working, such as a private view that lets a user sort or filter the data without affecting any other users that might be working with it at the same time.

Adobe plans to offer mobile access to Acrobat.com later this year for users with iPhone, BlackBerry, Nokia and Windows Mobile handsets.

The company is working to add features such as shared workspaces and PDF workflows, including the ability to update a PDF after it has been distributed to other users.

Also now available in beta is Adobe's Document Service APIs and Flash Collaboration Service for developers to build applications around Acrobat.com.

The live version of Acrobat.com is effectively split into three versions: Free, Premium Basic and Premium Plus.

The Free version is for users to try out the service and for those who have been invited into a meeting by a subscriber. It allows meetings for up to two people, and offers limited PDF creation.

Premium Basic supports meetings for up to five participants and allows up to 10 PDFs to be created per month. It costs US$14.99 per month in the US.

Premium Plus is for "users with intense collaboration needs", according to Adobe, and supports meetings with up to 20 participants and unlimited PDF creation for US$39 per month.

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