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Comments on Adobe & Macromedia

I’m way behind in planned blog entries from last week’s conference, but this has jumped to the top of the queue. Rather than repeat points made by others I’ll point you to Thad’s post, and a couple of other postings and focus on a point I haven’t seen made yet. Brice and others made the clear point that application redundancy means death for certain products. I also share Tim’s skepticism of Flash. But while every analyst under the Sun will talk about what this means to Microsoft, there is an aspect of this that needs more attention.
Whatever the combined suite of Adobe and Macromedia apps ends up looking like, it will be a mammoth suite with a combination of document and web capabilities that will compete with Microsoft Office, which will also have a combination of document and web capabilities. The real competition won’t be immediate because the difference between creative and knowledge worker tools is still pretty wide, and it won’t be complete because there will always be a need for a difference. However, over time the differences will be managed more by configuration of functions than by buying separate applications.

Thinking about a future dominated by these huge suites you can’t help but think “What’s the alternative?”. Many of us author less and less in big powerful applications, and more with simple editing tools (email, blogs, HTML forms, Notepad etc.). There are two reasons for this. One is that “fast and easy” is critical for efficient communication and we naturally gravitate to it. Second, none of the authoring tools available today have succeeded in allowing us to easily author once for both documents and web pages. The big feature-heavy suites are good to have around, but we also need new authoring tools that are light, flexible and create content that is marked-up just enough to easily share with applications, whether office or web suites, or enterprise applications.


  1. David Locke

    Actually, the acquisition of Macromedia by Adobe won’t bother Microsoft at all. Both companies moved up market and away from the desktop over the last few years. Up market to enterprise is where software companies go to die.
    Adobe has been in the late market for some time now. They were good at late market. They task sublimated Photoshop to create a late market specific application. But, late market is the usual place where software companies die.
    Moving Acrobat up to the enterprise meant that I didn’t upgrade. I don’t know anyone that did.
    Macromedia’s development environment costs too much. You would have to be a software development shop to buy it. Designers can’t afford it.
    Two deaths don’t together add up to life.

  2. David Locke

    The difference between creatives and knowledge workers will be feature bloat. You sublimate functionality for the late market, neither creatives or knowledge workers.
    Why should you be able to do a print document and a web page from the same content. Does the same content really belong in both?
    Single sourcing reduces content variety and subsequently communications bandwidth. It’s a bad thing for readers, learners, users. It’s a bad thing for content producers, because it lowers standards and commoditizes what we do.
    Everybody writes. When everybody can single source, the world won’t be a better place.
    Production costs are swamped by the negative use costs incurred by readers, which is the same kind of argument we use when we get feed up with spam. If a document is a cost, then maybe it shouldn’t be published.

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