What does it mean? It means that Adobe has a lot of work to do and also that people haven't fully bought into the idea of Rich Internet Applications yet. If you've been browsing sites like TechCrunch or Ajaxian you will probably have seen Adobe's "Flex 2 - Beyond Ajax" ads which are about as clear as the water in the Delaware River. But just like the Delaware, if you look around enough, you're bound to find something interesting. The Flex 2 release includes a brand new Flash Player, version 9. The new version is almost a total rewrite of the ubiquitous Flash Player and includes some significant changes. It was rebuilt to be faster, more powerful, and in the case of ActionScript 3, ECMA script compliant.
The silence also signals that the market isn't quite sure what to make of RIAs. Adobe is still a software company, and what really makes the numbers are the sales of Creative Suite and Studio MX. Despite that, there is a lot of internal pressure within Adobe to make Flex 2 a success. They are heavily promoting it within their current (limited) developer community though the response has been lukewarm in most cases. As arguably the pioneers of RIAs, Adobe/Macromedia has done a bad job of promoting their technologies. They need to do a much better job of showing people why RIAs are better than the web applications now. That's something I will try to do here on ZDNet, but if Adobe wants to make money on Flex 2 (and they do), they need to increase their marketing efforts. "Beyond Ajax" isn't going to cut it, and heavy promotion within their current, small developer base isn't going to either.
It's unfortunate that there aren't more people talking about RIA solutions such as Flex 2, OpenLaszlo and WPF. Part of that is because up to now, only OpenLaszlo was available as a product. Now that Flex 2 is out, and WPF following soon, we'll start to see more interest. Currently, the people who are most likely to adopt these technologies are using Ajax, and it's working for most of what they need to do. That will change as applications become more advanced. People will turn to these RIA solutions, but it's going to take some nudging from both Adobe and Microsoft to get them there. In the end, I think we'll look at this release and think about the month of March - in with a lamb, out with a lion. There are finally commercial products to support building of Rich Internet Applications, now we need to foster a conversation within businesss and tech circles about the benefits of RIAs over traditional web applications. Much easier said than done.