Adobe's Change in Strategy

Sep 29, 2011

If you haven't watch Adobe's last Earnings Call yet and you're using Flash/Flex/AIR, you should.

As many know, I've been very critical of Adobe management over their handling of CF, Flash, Flex and AIR. During the last earnings call in the "Closing Comments" and the "Content Authoring" sections, Shantanu seems to finally be coming around to my view of the situation. There has been some editing of the remarks since the live broadcast but the main points are still there. They are..

- the shifting landscape is favoring HTML5

- Adobe is a tooling company

- Adobe is doubling down on it's investment with HTML5 work on tools like Muse and Edge and the engines like WebKit.

I'll be one of the first to say, that it was really refreshing to see Shantanu come out and finally say this. I've been pushing for these points for some time now. Unfortunately due to the groupthink within the community and the lack of direction from Adobe, they have lost a ton of time in mapping out this new path. Doubling down may not be enough, but at least they seem to be looking in the right direction. Adobe is a tooling company. Tools like Photoshop, Lightroom and Dreamweaver are where the company really shines. That's their strength. Language and protocol development has had some good moments, but it's not something that the company really understands or knows how to develop and market. 

What does this mean for Flash? Well, if you're a developer and you want the greatest possible reach for your content, Flash simply isn't the answer. It's time for everyone to acknowledge that. There might be a small chance that the technology will survive in the AIR realm and in making apps, but that's far from certain and they have a lot of work left to do with that. Native, in the browser, content is still king and that's not going to change anytime soon. Hey, it's been around 15 years. It was a great run. Flash won't disappear overnight and HTML5 is far from perfect or even a set standard, but things are moving in a certain direction and Adobe can't fight that. If they stick to what they do best, things will work out just fine.

Now I can only hope they also make similar changes in their policy of sending jobs overseas and then asking for a tax break in the process and how they're handling CF. They could be a far stronger company with some simple changes but in the meantime this was a positive step forward.



Hannes wrote on 10/03/113:16 PM

Adobe is unfortunately not innovative!
Tom Chiverton

Tom Chiverton wrote on 10/04/115:16 AM

Good thoughts - did you know Adobe just bought PhoneGap :-)
John Mason

John Mason wrote on 10/04/118:37 AM

Thanks Tom. Yep, I saw the news feed when it came out. If they are indeed changing strategy, buying PhoneGap makes a lot of sense to me.
John Mason

John Mason wrote on 10/04/118:43 AM

@Hannes - I disagree. They are and have been very innovative. I think they just have to focus in more on what they do well. They have been far to spread out with things over the years, specially after acquiring Macromedia. In many ways that acquisition should have never happen. Most of the old Macromedia line of products aren't really adding to Adobe's growth potential for the future. They responded to this by wasting a lot of time and money trying to make it so when the industry was clearly going in another direction. They could have saved that cash and been smarter in their strategy. It looks like they are finally coming to terms with this and making some changes.

underlabs wrote on 10/04/1110:06 AM

One HTML5 can do what Flash can do... Our firm will ise HTML5. Till then... Flash will take the higher end, rich apps, and HTML5 the basic transitions (at lower framerates).
Oğuz Demirkapı

Oğuz Demirkapı wrote on 10/04/1110:16 AM

I could disagree on that.

Yes, Adobe is a tooling company and yes Adobe will provide solutions for the commonly used platforms such as HTML5 etc. as nature. There is nothing wrong with this. But Flash is something else.

It is good to know that we already some current powerful features in Flash that we will never have with HTML5. Especially in the business solutions implementations there is already a huge potential and ignoring all those power puts us on a wrong direction.

We also just need to remember why we had Flash in the first place and what Flash did achieve. Flash was completing the features that we did not have on HTML 3/4 and that's why it because the king in the interaction and cross browser compatibility issues. Now I say it will be the same if Adobe can see the future potential on the web/mobile world and the next version of Flash can define the HTML 6, 7, 8 features and whatever we could not achieve on HTML5 can be completed with Flash platform solutions. That would be a new life-cycle for the Flash based solutions and entire community.

I repeat it again, if Adobe can play well, Flash can/will define the future HTML standards again!

I do not have any words for Apple and dummy Apple followers. Just check the date of their event and how coincidentally it became same date as AdobeMAX. Bastards! :)
John Mason

John Mason wrote on 10/04/1110:32 AM

I agree that Flash provides a good list of features that people will want in future HTML versions, but as a result, I don't see the plugins (including Flash) having another day in the sun anytime soon. At the present time, I do think for very specific situations, one may still want to use Flash instead of HTML5.

It is funny how Apple did that. I suspect they really couldn't careless now and it was accidental. Apple's market cap is around $344 billion where Adobe's is still low and at $11 billion. At this point, it's like having Amazon somehow being worried about a local used book store. They probably didn't even notice the dates.

Joshua wrote on 10/04/1111:54 AM

My English isn't very good... what does Standards mean?

This whole Web Standards is dictated by the W3C, while Each Browser implements these HTML5 tags differently and renders CSS differently, and video formats are different in each browser and so is Audio.

But yeah, we call HTML5 CSS "the Standard". Flash on the other-hand, Looks Crystal Sharp Similar in all browsers, except for Apple falling short in their Mobiles.

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