Would you pay $2 per hour to use Photoshop (or Excel) as a web app?

Soon we will be able to rent Web Apps for an hour, a day or a week. Imagine the scenario where you only require Photoshop for an afternoon – that will be $7.99, or for the entire day $19.99, and for a five-day week set aside $70.00. Once the Web App is on your desktop it will operate exactly the same as the original desktop versions did in 2010, only with an embedded tiame-out function that kicks in at the end of your allocated ‘rental’ period.
Just like you use an equipment rental store for hiring a hole digger for fence posting, you may one day soon use a Web App Store to buy access to a time-limited version of any software in the form of a Web App.

Off the back of the success of Mobile Apps Apple, Google, Microsoft, et al will all realise Web App Stores for desktop and laptop computers in 2011. The creative destruction of existing software business models, due largely to the launch of these competing Web App ecosystems, will benefit both the consumer and the software seller alike.

Free versions of Photoshop will be iAd or AdWord supported and completely paid for by the latest Ford or Volvo campaigns. Maybe it will come with small delays in your productivity: when you save a file you’ll need to watch a 10-second interstitial ad. Don’t like waiting? Then click ‘Buy For The Day’.

The Web App business model would be truly inspired if in the last 15-minutes you can extend your rental period for only another $2 per hour.

Consider all of this compared to buying Photoshop, where the Adobe US Store promotes the full-version for around US$700. Let’s suppose a user who designs Ford ad campaigns generates revenues based on the following usage pattern: 5 hours a day, over 5 days a week for 40 weeks of the year. If we amortise our ownership model over a two-year period before we upgrade to the next version, the theoretical cost of owning Photoshop is approximately $0.35 cents an hour (not accounting for the tax benefits of write-offs, etc).

Clearly a heavy Photoshop user will greatly profit from the ‘buy outright’ model versus the $2 per hour option. But everyone else, depending on his or her usage, may benefit from renting on an hourly, daily or weekly basis. However, make sure you don’t keep hitting the ‘Extend For Another Hour’ button too many times.