For Adobe it's open season on Flash again as this week Microsoft said that its Metro browser will be plug-in free, but concerns about enterprise demand may be far more troublesome for the company's financial picture.
The fact that Adobe's Flash is under fire isn't exactly news given Apple ditched Adobe's Web software years ago. Fortunately for Adobe, Flash has no impact on its profit picture. Adobe sells developer tools and back-end software not Flash specifically. Adobe's Flash week went like this:
- CNET: Microsoft joins anti-Flash crowd with IE10
- CNET: Adobe: Flash will flourish despite Windows 8
- Microsoft: Metro style browsing and plug-in free HTML
- Calm down, Windows 8 DOES support Flash
The anti-Flash talk garners the headlines, but is irrelevant to Adobe on the financial front. That's why a downgrade from JMP Securities analyst Patrick Walravens is notable.
Walravens summed up the situation in a research note:
While we believe there are some key things that could go right for the company over the next 2-3 years, near term we have grown incrementally concerned about the success of the company's enterprise business and about their ability to retain key management and sales personnel. We also believe the lack of economic growth in the U.S. and other countries may have caused certain customers to delay their technology purchases from Adobe in F3Q, particularly in certain verticals.
Specifically, Walravens said that adoption of Adobe's customer experience management (CEM) software is becoming an issue. CEM is one of Adobe's growth pillars. The problem: Enterprise customers don't understand Adobe's CEM software.
Meanwhile, Adobe is likely to take a hit from slowing enterprise demand overall, said Walravens. Toss in Drupal, an open source content management system, and there are long-term concerns about Adobe.
Walravens is also worried about turnover in Adobe's executive suite. Rob Tarkoff, head of Adobe's digital enterprise solutions unit, recently left to be CEO of Lithium Technologies.
Amid all the hubbub over Adobe's Flash this week, Walravens' concern about enterprise sales---if they pan out---are far more material than what Microsoft ultimately thinks of Flash.