Adobe to pull Office rival out of AIR?

Adobe may look to the Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR) platform to launch an office productivity suite to take on Microsoft.

Adobe may look to the Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR) platform to launch an office productivity suite to take on Microsoft.

In an interview, Mike Downey, group manager for platform evangelism at Adobe, said that, although he couldn't reveal any plans at the moment, the possibility should not be dismissed.

"Though we have not yet announced any intentions to move into the office productivity-software market, considering that we have built this platform that makes it easy to build rich applications that run on both the desktop and the browser, I certainly wouldn't rule anything like that out," Downey told Wired.com.

The market for office applications, including word-processing, spreadsheet and presentation applications is lucrative, and dominated by Microsoft.

Other vendors, such as Sun, IBM and Google have alternatives to the Microsoft Office suite. There is also a raft of comparable, free open-source offerings, most notably OpenOffice.

Adobe is pumping significant resources into AIR (formerly known as Apollo) which gives developers a way to take code written for the Web browser and repurpose it for the desktop.

It is the AIR platform which excites many observers, and which could give Adobe a solid starting point for the launch of office applications.

Matt Asay, vice president of Alfresco and a regular blogger on ZDNet Australia's sister site CNET News.com, wrote on Tuesday that he wouldn't rule out an office-application suite from Adobe.

"Think about it. The power and scope of the Web integrated into the performance and comfort of the desktop. I've been toying with Adobe's Apollo and find it fascinating, powerful and very, very cool.

"I'm not a big fan of Web-only desktop-replacement applications [such as Google's hosted applications]. I'm a very big fan of these integrated desktop/Web applications, however," wrote Asay. "Adobe is well-positioned to be king of this new territory. Microsoft should be very concerned."

Richard Thurston reported for ZDNet UK from London.