Market: Canva takes over Affinity developer Serif – is it a challenge to Adobe?

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When it comes to professional image editing or the creation of print data, there has long been no way around using Adobe. In recent years, however, the British software developer Serif has emerged as a serious alternative to Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator with its Affinity products – while the design platform Canva has become increasingly popular in the B2C market and among content creators for social media. Now Canva has taken over Serif – and is sending a clear challenge to Adobe.

There are several signs that Canva’s plans for its own design platform are bigger than “just” being a template-based and therefore easy-to-use editor and have been for years. Not simply because the company behind Canva took over image databases such as Pixabay and Pexels or start-ups such as Kaleido AI or Smartmockups early on, but also because it has successively teamed up with online printing service providers. Helloprint and Flyeralarm are just two well-known names of those who have integrated the Canva Designer into their own portfolio to make designing even easier for customers – at the same time, the design platform has built up a network of print service providers with Canva Print and is thus also competing with online print shops to a certain extent, as we already stated here on beyond-print.de in 2021.

Since then, Canva has successively expanded its portfolio, in particular with AI-based tools and features such as Magic Studio with Magic Design, a scaling tool, a video generation feature or – following the acquisition of the British start-up Flourish – with interactive functions for data visualization. In addition, Canva’s first official headquarters on the European continent, the Canva Campus in London, was opened just under a year ago.

No matter how you look at it, Canva has long since become a serious player in the creative market, with over 4,000 employees worldwide and, according to Canva, more than 170 million users in 190 countries. However, as in previous years, the company is keeping a lid on just how many of these are paying customers.

One man’s sorrow …

And while some see Canva as a promising cooperation partner, Adobe is gradually but steadily coming under pressure. After the top dog in the creative market announced in September 2022 that it wanted to acquire the collaborative design platform for UX and web design Figma for 20 billion US dollars, Adobe had to bury the takeover plans at the end of 2023 – the concerns of the European antitrust authorities and their British counterpart, the CMA, could not be overcome. So the deal fell through.

It was a different story for Canva, which attracted attention at the end of March with news that Adobe will also find bitter: Canva acquired Serif Labs, the developer and parent company of the Affinity suite, for the equivalent of more than 607 million euros (one billion Australian dollars). Since then, the British company based in Nottingham, England, and its team of more than 90 employees have been part of Canva.

The software solutions Affinity Photo, which is positioned on the market as a counterweight and cost-effective but powerful alternative to Adobe Photoshop, Affinity Designer as an alternative to Adobe Illustrator and Affinity Publisher as an alternative to Adobe InDesign, will continue to be offered as usual. And that means: as purchase versions. Until now, Serif Labs has deliberately not pursued the path of software subscriptions, but has instead focused on cost-effective purchase versions. Unlike Adobe – and also unlike Canva’s approach with its previous applications.

According to Serif Labs, the Affinity software is used by more than 3 million users as of April 2024 and has long since made a name for itself in the creative world, especially among professional users. Logically, many of them now see the takeover by Canva as the start of a gradual switch to a subscription model. Whether this will actually happen is pure speculation at this stage. Although the idea is of course obvious.

…is another man’s delight

It’s a clever move for Canva. Because although Canva’s tools are now so powerful and so versatile, they still have the label of being “too simple” and not offering enough design options – at least in the world of the professional creative industry – keyword typography, where users who work professionally in design often wanted more functions. However, Canva’s approach right from the start was to simplify design and make it accessible to people who have no design expertise.

My Take: Driven by the booming creator economy, strategic acquisitions and collaborations and, last but not least, AI, Canva has long since become a big player in the creative market with an estimated turnover of 2 billion US dollars. With Serif Labs on board, including the Affinity suite, the creators are now specifically targeting professionals – the core target group of Adobe’s most prominent products: Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. For the “top dog”, the Canva-Affinity deal should therefore be one thing above all: a challenge. It will be interesting to see how things develop for both providers. BEYONDPRINT will stay tuned.

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Market: Canva takes over Affinity developer Serif - is it a challenge to Adobe?
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Market: Canva takes over Affinity developer Serif - is it a challenge to Adobe?
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When it comes to professional image editing or the creation of print data, there has long been no way around using Adobe. In recent years, however, the British software developer Serif has emerged as a serious alternative to Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator with its Affinity products - while the design platform Canva has become increasingly popular in the B2C market and among content creators for social media. Now Canva has taken over Serif - and is sending a clear challenge to Adobe.
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Beyond-print.net

Founder and CEO of zipcon consulting GmbH, one of the leading consulting companies for the print and media industry in Central Europe. The technology and strategy consultant and his team actively support practical implementation in a wide variety of customer projects. His work involves developing visions, concepts and strategies for the players active in the print production process across a wide range of industries. His areas of expertise include online print, mass customization, strategy and technological assessment for print, and the development of new strategies in the print and media environment. Bernd Zipper is the creator and chairman of Initiative Online Print e.V. and, in addition to his consulting activities, is an author, lecturer and sought-after speaker, orator and moderator. His visionary lectures are regarded worldwide as trend-setting management recommendations for the print and media industry. (Profiles also in Xing, LinkedIn).

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, Owner: (Registered business address: Germany), processes personal data only to the extent strictly necessary for the operation of this website. All details in the privacy policy.