05 December 2019 06:48:02 IST

How Chennai native S Narayanan took Adobe Photoshop places

‘Bundling with Microsoft Windows led to mass usage in just a few years’

Photo editing software Adobe Photoshop is the lifeline for wedding photographer K Shekar and thousands of others in the profession. With a DSLR camera and a personal computer, he earns monthly around ₹50,000. But, most critical for his work is Photoshop Lightroom to create beautiful pictures and marriage albums.

Photoshop is critical in bringing out best in digital images and videos whether marriage albums or movies.

With nearly 10 million users, Photoshop is today one of the successful photo editing software available globally, thanks mainly to Chennai lad Seetharaman Narayanan, Senior Principal Scientist and one of the founding members of Photoshop.



As chief architect, Narayanan ensured that Photoshop spread globally by bringing the software in Microsoft’s Windows platform in 1993. Till then, it was available only in Macintosh. “Bringing to Windows led to mass usage of Photoshop in a few years as Microsoft expanded its reach globally dramatically. It also boosted Adobe revenue substantially,” he told Business Line.

Growing up in the by-lanes of Mylapore, Narayanan graduated from REC Trichy and joined Adobe in 1991. Since then he has been associated with all the releases of Photoshop. When somebody opens Photoshop, name of Narayanan pops up as the second person in the list of people who gets credit for its invention.

Based in San Jose, Narayanan comes to Chennai twice a year. He was in the city to address an event organised by IIM Calcutta Alumni Association.

Adobe’s business in India is getting bigger when it shifted Photoshop to a subscription model three years ago. For instance, the photography plan is around $10 a month. “If you make a living out of being a creative, I think $10 is not lot of money,” he said.

“We have only scratched the surface in India right now. As people get to understand that software is value, people should pay for it. The knowledge and patents that goes in the software has a value for it,” he said.

Piracy issue

Piracy is a big issue in developing markets like India as affordability causes piracy. If you solve the affordability problem, “I don’t think people would pirate. If they derive value out of the software, I believe they will pay,” he said.

Narayanan said subscription is a deterrent to piracy, but won’t eliminate piracy.

Shifting everything to cloud will reduce piracy to zero. However, with huge amount of data that need to processed in Photoshop, moving to cloud will be very expensive for Adobe, which need to pay for cloud service provider. For instance, each picture could above 10 MB in size, and it is not possible to host it on the cloud. Also, users need to be connected to the internet all the time to have access to cloud, he said.