Blogger: JP Morgenthal
I’m attending Adobe MAX this week in San Francisco (Nov 17-19, 2008). There’s been some very strong announcements by Adobe regarding the expansion of the Flash platform for enterprise and consumer markets. Through it all one craw still stick in my hat and that is does Adobe have what it takes to win in the rich internet application race?
Take a quick glance at the RIA market and you will see that Adobe has a very strong presence in everything from media to enterprise applications. With support from the likes of Salesforce.com and SAP, it would seem that they are a clear market leader. That is if you discount Ajax as a platform unto itself and the fact that Microsoft has been a keen comeback competitor. Moreover, Google is not likely to go linger about quietly in this race.
Additionally, up till now, Adobe’s success has been its ability to play nicely with other platforms. PDF readers and Flash plug-ins are available for just about all critical platforms. Will attempts by Adobe to take an ownership stake that steals thunder from these platforms affect their status? To answer this we need to look at who would be affected by this.
The most significant victim is the desktop Java Runtime Environment. The write-once, run-anywhere mantra is slowly being consumed by the Flash player and Adobe AIR. Moreover, with Sun’s inability to gain support for Java FX, their current structural instability, Adobe’s growing presence on the desktop and in the browser, and the increase in the number of Flex programmers, the Java applet should be nothing more than a memory within a couple of years.
Next in line to be impacted is Google. Google is a strong component of Ajax and invested heavily in tools and technologies that leverage Ajax for rich internet applications. Unlike Sun, which has been unable to leverage their large installed base of server-side developers, Google has enabled Web developers to deliver very usable Web applications without requiring a significant learning curve. Moreover, Google's main revenue stream is advertising and Flash-clients consuming Google services without also delivering the associated advertising has a limited life span. This will require Google to act as a competitor to Adobe in the RIA race.
Finally, and never to be discounted, is Microsoft with Silverlight. Currently a nascent player, Microsoft is bargaining for a position at the table and does not like to lose. Microsoft’s .NET platform, which is the basis for Silverlight, has some powerful application features and offers more programming languages than just ActionScript, which could be an influential factor in attracting developers to the platform. In addition, there are a number of .NET programmers now familiar with XAML and Windows Presentation Framework.
Adobe has always offered the market good adjunct capabilities, I hope with this recent attempt to gain adoption of a much larger platform, they haven’t bitten off more than they can chew.