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How Adobe is making big moves while no one's looking

Adobe is an interesting company. They started off by capitalizing on PostScript and as a result dominated the print media world. That helped them make inroads with designers and aided Photoshop becoming the industry standard. But as the world moved to the web, Adobe needed a bigger presence to continue to woo designers, so they bought Macromedia. But lately they've started to move into bigger things and they've gotten into the business of actually deploying applications.
Written by Ryan Stewart, Contributor
How Adobe is making big moves while no one's looking
Adobe is an interesting company. They started off by capitalizing on PostScript and as a result dominated the print media world. That helped them make inroads with designers and aided Photoshop becoming the industry standard. But as the world moved to the web, Adobe needed a bigger presence to continue to woo designers, so they bought Macromedia. But lately they've started to move into bigger things and they've gotten into the business of actually deploying applications.

Adobe and Macromedia have always been software companies, but that software has always had the aim of enabling creative people to do creative things. Macromedia gave away it's Flash runtime so that it could sell copies of the Flash IDE to people that wanted to animate the web. But with Breeze, Macromedia started to do something different. They built applications on top of their platform and took advantage of features that only they had access to. Instead of just enabling people to build on their platform, Macromedia started doing it themselves. It appears Adobe is moving more in that direction.

We've started to hear a lot more about Adobe building solutions on top of their platform. Om did some great reporting about Adobe's VoIP initiative and its possible foray into Peer2Peer networking. Now most of these expand the capabilities of the Flash Platform, but the question is whether or not the features will be available to developers. Here's where the signs of Adobe increasingly using its platform start to become more interesting. We've already seen Digital Editions, a medium for distributing eBooks that is built on Flex and Flash. There have also been rumblings of "Philo", an IPTV product. John Dowdell today linked to some information about how Adobe could expand Acrobat Connect. How many more of these will we see?

Digital Editions
 

Current examples, for instance getting publishers to sign on for an eBook platform or getting partners for IPTV, are things that the traditional Adobe development shop just doesn't have the clout to do. In that sense, Adobe isn't really cannibalizing their own customers. But by delivering software built on their own platform, they're expanding and moving into more lucrative services.

It's a bold move, but I think a lot of people underestimate Flash, and I think Adobe's using that to their advantage. You can make a lot of money with Rich Internet Applications. They push the boundary of what we can do with the web in a way that makes it easy for users. Adobe is in a position to both show how powerful RIAs are as well as expand into new markets while moving up the value chain into things like VoIP and IPTV. It's something that I don't believe enough people are paying attention to and Adobe may catch them by surprise. I also have to believe that one of the reasons Microsoft is moving so heavily into the design/RIA space is because they know how much potential is out there. By the time we're done, we should see some innovative solutions from both sides and the web isn't going to be the same.

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