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What Adobe is up to – MAX Thought

Posted by Charles | October 9, 2009 .

Back from MAX. Realized Adobe is a new company now. It was a desktop software company with a niche market in the graphic design and creativity tools area. Through organic growth and acquisitions (mainly Macromedia in 05)
Adobe is evolving into a developer focused IT platform company and gaining acceptance and great respect among development communities. From the messages of the Adobe MAX 09, it’s obvious Adobe is moving aggressively into a more competitive and lucrative
pace, enterprise and online. This move is annotated with all the buzzwords through out the conference sessions, cloud computing, p2p collaboration, analytical web, augmented reality, real time web, to name a few. Its product line-up/pipeline does support
the direction they are going. The significant investment made prior to the MAX, the purchase of Omniture (a web analytic company) with $1.2bn, demonstrates its determination for this transition as well.


Two major tr
nsitions were introduced by Adobe CEO, Content to Content + Applications, Creation to Creation + Optimization. The first one particularly resonated with me very well because I believe that’s the path from web 2.0 to web square. To be relevant, pumping in
content is not enough (anymore) because there is not lack of contents these days. Rather, the future is about the innovative ways of turning content into intelligence and actions, via web applications. This transition can be applied to many initiatives w
’ve been seeing today, gov 2.0, cloud computing, etc.

The Cloud and Social

Even though the uses of “cloud” and “social” were a bit farfetched in a few sessions, the intention and direction were load and clear. Adobe is moving more and more software capabilities to be hosted ser
ices, in the cloud so to speak. They even kicks start a sharing platforms to allow developers easily sharing their works via large amount of social media outlets, without engaging too much of coding. They are/will be having Adobe Collaborating Service, D
stribution Service, Sharing Services, plus the existing Adobe Connect, etc. Adobe not only adapts the utility type of pricing for its cloud service offering, but also starts App Store approach to allow its developers distribute and monetize
their works.
The observation is that Adobe’s cloud strategy is not content focused; rather, it is platform focused that intends for creating its ecosystem in the cloud via crowd-generated applications, not via the good-old-crowd-generated content. It’s a good way to

The Mobile

Adobe announced that it has agreements from all major device or mobile platform companies (inc. Google) to put Flash 10.1 on mobile phones, except Apple. However, the iPhone was overwhelmingly and amazingly domi
ating any mobile discussion, either on keynote stage or in conference sessions. The coming Flash Pro CSS will be able to compile Flash apps into iPhone native applications. Adobe already has had 8 applications submitted and approved in the Apple AppStore
(I tried and addicting to one).

It’s clear that a mobile strategy nowadays has to have iPhone in it as a big part. It may not a sound business or technological approach, but certainly a major marketing and PR must-have, to be relevant in the mobile space.

The Enterprise

To be in the enterprise space, a tech company needs to have something relevant and be able to touch the foundation that supports enterprise computing. That makes the difference between in-enterprise and be-enterprise. Adobe’s approach is the Livecycle DS that supports workflow management and execution. Combined with its client side RIA technologies (aka Adobe Flash Platform) it starts telling a sound story that plays well in the enterprise area.

The Innovations

The most amazing and exciting part is the demonstration of innovation. There is a plenary general session named Sneaks to show off some innovative works done by Adobe employees that may never become released product. That spirit evidently exists in Adobe’s developer communities as well. There is a session where people showed long list of very cutting edge and push-envelope ways of using Adobe technologies. Those show-offs may not have price tags hanging; but the perception generated from them could very well be translated into marketing value and innovation force behind it. It seems to me it’s a good approach that be prudent and calculating on what to be released; and be open on what can be built or tried as a way to leave the door of innovation wide open.

 What Adobe is up to   MAX Thought

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