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Morning Highlights from the Adobe Industry Analyst Summit, Day 01

Adobe HQ, San Jose

I’m at the Adobe Industry Analyst Summit in San Jose this week. By my count, this is the 3rd year they’ve had it and the 3rd year I’ve been to it. This event is enterprise focused, so it speaks more to the use of the LiveCycle portfolio, PDF/document management, but also the Flash Platform.

Here are some highlights from the morning, the first day of the event so far:

  • Adobe’s CEO, Shantanu Narayen opened up, giving an overview of Adobe with attention to enterprise concerns. He said Adobe’s enterprise business is “approximately a billion dollar business” for them.
  • Also, it was interesting to hear Shantanu’s overview of Adobe’s challenges, mostly circling around The Death of Print and, less dramatically put, the transformation of traditional media to whatever’s next. Beyond the obvious from Adobe – more “engaging” delivery of content – there was mention of helping content producers track ads and otherwise figure out how to make money. Indeed, for Adobe getting traditional media to transfer their business models to (gulp) new media business is a top priority.
  • Another interesting item Shantanu mentioned was that more and more (though, not a “majority” if I recall) of revenue is coming from the rest of the world (not US or EU, I guess). This is an ongoing geographic bullet point for most elder companies, starting with IBM about 2 years ago who source many of their new and interesting customer cases from China and other parts of Asia.
  • Finally, one of the analysts asked something along the lines of, “so, is this cloud computing stuff going to have enough margin to replace packaged software sales?” Shantanu noted that the margin are (probably) different between packaged and cloud/SaaS software. Through-out the morning, a few other analysts have been jumping on this idea and seeing how Adobe execs respond to the idea of moving into slimmer margin sales. It’s like the open source business model discussion all over again!
  • Kevin Lynch covered the new and interesting technologies Adobe has going on, through the frame of “the vectors of innovation,” or trends mixed in with technologies. These vectors were: client+cloud, social computing, devices+desktop, all sprinkled with plenty of mobile talk. The framing here was still the Open Screens Project, the idea there being the creation and use of software that works across computer, TV, mobile, and other little devices with “screens.”
  • As one of the back-end/server technologies, Kevin mentioned the “Flash Widget Network,” which doesn’t seem to be listed anywhere publically. As Adobe’s Ted Patrick put it: “new service ‘Flash Widget Network’ listed under services in Flash Platform diagram. Distribute widgets to N networks with monitization.”
  • While there was no iPhone reevaluations – Adobe’s position is still, “we’d love to have it on their if Apple would let it” – as Marshall Kirkpatrick outlined in a story, Kevin spoke to the Flash 10 roadmap in regards to mobile: primarily the continual effort to merge the Flash mobile and “normal” Flash players. Also, Kevin mentioned that Adobe is working on multi-touch and accelerometer features for Flash. As Jeffrey Hammond covered, after the current round of Flash/mobile work, the road-map calls for “mobilizing” Flex.
  • One analyst asked about “mobile design patterns,” that is, is Adobe working on some. Kevin said they’re researching them and trying to figure them out.
  • On a historical note, Kevin went over how (then) Macromedia spread Flash during the browser wars. They gave Netscape “millions” of dollars to include Flash in their browser, and then as the browser wars continue, Microsoft came to Macromedia to include Flash in IE, at no cost. And there you go, Flash in browsers.
  • Next up, was pulling to focus down to enterprise concerns. Rob Tarkoff gave an overview of this silo, largely composed of LiveCycle, Acrobat,, Flash Platform (including AIR). This year, as I Twittered, Adobe is doing a good job of speaking the language of enterprise design and even architecture. They have some nice looking cake & silo diagrams that feel like something corporate architects could start to relate to – I’ll have to see if I can get some screen-shots of them. Still, most of the discussion of enterprise applications built on the “Adobe stack” were very document-centric, which expected coming from PDF-land. One of the customer cases, which was under NDA, was less so, however and encouraging for sussing out the enterprise architect angle for said “Adobe stack.”
  • Rob mentioned that they’re looking at lacing in some “enterprise extensions” to, but are primarily focused on it being an SMB offering with a freemium model.
  • I should also point out that Adobe laced in much emphasis on “collaboration” as an enterprise software imperative. It’s along the lines that you hear Cisco talking about collaboration, but not as technically details and broad as, say, IBM Lotus would get into. Their Connect product fits here well, and maybe some of those “enterprise extensions” to would slip into that silo as well.

Them’s the highlights for now. (See the afternoon highlights too.) There’s good realtime coverage over in Twitter from the clutch of Twittering analysts, mostly under the tags #adobe09, but also #AIAS. Here’s a search for both.

Disclosure: Adobe is a client, and paid travel for this “jaunt.”

Categories: Cloud, Collaborative, Conferences, RIA.

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