Adobe tries mobile photos as a service with Carousel

Mobile photos are becoming more popular as phones are better equipped to take them, but just how far will smartphone photographers take their hobby? Adobe (s adbe) is banking that Apple (s aapl) device users are willing to pay more to make sure their photos are easier to share, edit and view. Carousel, Adobe’s new project, is a bold move that represents a sweeping attempt to make mobile photography as a service catch on.

Carousel was unveiled at Adobe’s Photoshop World 2011 conference this morning. It’s a new app for iPhone, iPad and Mac that will leverage Photoshop Lightroom technology to offer image fine-tuning and adjustments on all platforms, as well as automatic syncing, sharing and browsing of your collection via the cloud. Increasingly, the cloud is becoming the tent pole of mobile software, as we’ll see discussed in detail at Mobilize 2011. If you take a picture on one device, it should be available on all others immediately and automatically, according to Adobe. Edit on one device, and those edits are also shared, but your originals won’t be lost since Adobe’s tech uses non-destructive editing tech.

The catch is that Carousel won’t be free. When it launches later this month, it will cost $60 per year or $6 per month as a subscription service. That’s the introductory price; it goes up to $100 per year or $10 a month after Jan. 31, 2012. That’s quite a bit more than the one-time fee associated with most existing iOS or Mac photo editing apps, and it’s more expensive than the similar iCloud service, which provides free syncing of photos through Photo Stream, as well as the ability to purchase more storage for between $20 and $100 per year. Google+ (s goog) also offers basic mobile photo syncing for free through its iOS application, though in a far more limited form.

Adobe’s offering provides more powerful editing tools, as well as sharing options that allow up to five non-Carousel members to collaborate on individual photos or a library of photos for free. Non-subscribers get a special download link for a single install of the app of their choice and can view and edit photos in shared albums. With Photo Stream, your options for collaboration are more limited; you can share through external social networks, but that’s about it, and Carousel has that angle covered, too; you can share to Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr from within the apps.

Carousel definitely offers more than Photo Stream, but it also isn’t integrated at the OS level like Apple’s offering will be, so you’ll have to go to apps to use it. It also might be more muscle than the average mobile photographer needs, at a higher price than they’re willing to spend, though I can easily see the appeal for pro photographers who need to work with distributed teams on a regular basis. But Adobe is clearly targeting consumers, and talks mostly about uses average folks might have for the service, like creating and sharing family photo libraries.

You can sign up now to be notified when the service goes live, and Adobe is offering a 30-day free trial before you have to start paying for Carousel. Anyone interested in getting this level of control over your personal photo cloud, or are Apple’s upcoming built-in iOS features good enough?