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Adobe MAX 06: Forking the Web?

Last night James and I flew into Las Vegas from San Francisco. From Oracle to Adobe.

The folks at Max, as you might imagine, are a much more hip in their dress. The conference bag was the coolest I’ve gotten so far: the Army surplus style, but fitted out to work with laptops. I feel like quite the fashion-idiot in my business casual attire. James, on the other hand smartly dressed plain old casual casual.

C.R.E.A.M.y Adobe

The general session this morning was all about Flash, esp. Flash on mobile. The theme was very strong on “this is how you guys can make money with Flash.” As ever, every where but the US is fully geared up when it comes a mobile-platform. It’s just now — thanks to Verizon and Brew — that the Flash community can make money in the US market with mobile games and other Get it Now! apps.

I’m not really hip to paying a few bucks on my phone to play games. Indeed, being a Verizon customer I’m continually annoyed at how closed and locked down the razr I have is. Bluetooth works for getting pictures off it and synching with iSync, but I can’t get the awesomeness of things like Sailing Clicker. Well, maybe I could if I wanted to layout a few bucks each time I used.

The open and free world of the web that I usually have my head stuck in has spoiled me. Indeed…as I wrote in my notes, “clearly, they’re not JavaME fans.”

That said, if I were a Flash/Flex developer looking to pay the bills, I’d have been quite happy to hear that Adobe’s helping me make more money.

Though, to steal one of James’ great responses, they could have just gone with one slide for that part: YouTube.

The Adobe Web

The web experience has not caught up today’s technology.
–Bruce Chizen

Speaking of the web, this morning as I we were watching several Flash demos and RIA driven apps on the web — like VW’s highly interactive, check out the GTI site or Wharton’s Auction site — I’ve come to realize I’m something of a web bigot. To cut to the chase: the growing Flash/Flex/Apollo RIA reach rankles me.

It seems like a direct threat to the web.

The path that I’ve seen Adobe going down is creating their own networked platform. As I think of it “the web without all that web.” Instead of using the web, you’d use the Adobe client, be it Acrobat to edit forms or one of the RIA clients, or, at least, an HTML page with an embedded Adobe RIA.

There is no single vendor that’s created and provides the platform of the web: as you may recall, Netscape and IE tried the proprietary lock-in gambit. And then were were Java applets, ActiveX, and all manner of other end-routes around plain old HTML. In the end, no vendor or approach has been able to shove the web off into a corner and treat it just a back-end.

Can Adobe pull off the never-dying vendor dream of establishing their own version of the web?

You can probably figure out my answer to that question. Working against the web — and treating it just as a back-end to pull data from to fuel proprietary RIA’s — is like marching your armies into a Russian winter: a decision everyone knows is ill-fated, but leaders keep doing over and over again.

Is Adobe trying to fork the web? Or will Adobe catch up with the web? Those are the two sides of the hypothesis I’ll be testing out.

Disclaimer: Adobe has paid my way and stay to MAX, and, they’re a client.

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Categories: Companies, Conferences.

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3 Responses

  1. Miguel called that earliest, I think:

    Miguel: "A few years ago, before the Ajax revolution, it was to me pretty clear that Flash based frameworks and Avalon would pose a real threat to the web as we know it."

  2. Resist at all costs … reducing the web to a captive client is the "application" equivalent of revoking habeas corpus, or allowing the telcos to control the "pipes".

  3. Just serfed in. Great site, guys!C