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.