Is Adobe competing with their own developer community?

Many innovative Flex developers have churned out some quality apps recently, and in the name of “Flex adoption” they’ve been touted by Adobe from conferences to AIR Tour stops to blogs and beyond. As recently as August, I can recall Picnick being proudly displayed during the 360|Flex keynote, with quotes from the Wall Street Journal helping proclaim the app as one that is so good, it ‘can hardly be distinguished from standard programs‘.

Picnick is not alone. Apps like Fauxto and the new FotoFlexer are driving the Flex technology for online photo editors to new heights.

Adobe is super good about promoting success stories as well as popular and quality applications built on their technology. Developers see these and get enticed. They want a piece of it and so they download the trial and they just may (and usually do from my experiences) get hooked.

And while companies and projects like Picnick were being showcased around as prime examples of Adobe development technologies Flash, Flex and AIR, their biggest competition was brewing all along. The first glimpse at an online Photoshop, called Photoshop Express, has been released. This creates an interesting crux in both directions.

On one hand, Adobe distributes tools that our so good that they are releasing applications online in the wake of really successful existing ones that, for the good of their platforms, they find themselves promoting and drawing attention to. On the other hand, Adobe’s own product track (in this case, Photoshop) finds that its natural growth has it evolving into a product that competes head on with other applications that developers built with other Adobe products.

I’m not a user of any of these online photo apps, and I’ve only played around with a few. Fireworks (an Adobe inherited Macromedia product) is still my cropping, resizing and red-eye removal app of choice. But based on the huge quality precedence that Photoshop has, I am quite intrigued at how the premiere franchise from Adobe may thrive online.

And speaking of Premiere… should the JumpCuts of the world be concerned? Will Adobe take aim at more Flash/Flex ‘success stories’ in the online video editing space with a more robust Premiere Express? The next startup may think twice about building a super-cool Flex-based app in either of these spaces (and maybe more) knowing that Adobe may put something out there that could directly compete with them.

Or maybe we should be thankful that Adobe gives us developers a head start and helps us get SO MUCH traction by promoting the heck out of our cool apps built on their technology.



Debabrata Acharjee

Looking forward to read Adobe’s stand on the question you raised!


Personally, I don’t have a problem with Adobe creating services that compete with organizations who use Adobe tools – as long as Adobe doesn’t have major advantages because of their ownership of the technology. And that’s where the real problem lies. I doubt that Adobe’s online services have to pay retail licensing fees to use LiveCycle ES, Coldfusion, or Flash Media Server. And we know Adobe Connect uses Flash Player extensions that are not available to other developers/organizations. We also know there are more and more internal projects at Adobe leveraging new or enhanced tools people outside Adobe know little about.

Adobe wants to be a platform company and make serious money on servers by leveraging proprietary protocols like AMF they build into the player. And Adobe also wants to be an online service provider and enterprise software player and consultancy.

If they don’t figure out a better way to manage the tensions those desires are creating the wider ecosystem they are trying to develop is in trouble.

John Dowdell

That screenshot of an early version of Adobe Photoshop Express, showing in-browser image-editing, came at the Photoshop World conference. Photoshop PM has the source link:

That was the Photoshop/CreativeSuite group talking with a top Photoshop crowd, a simple screenshot during a demo. It wasn’t so much the entire Adobe organization talking to the entire world, more a Photoshop-centric type of meeting.

I shared the same initial question as you, about people who are doing their own work in in-browser image-editing in the Flex/AIR/Platform world. Bottom line, I think audience needs are growing more diverse by the day, so lots of different projects will be successful:


Anatole Tartakovsky

It is very difficult position for Adobe IMHO. They have to grow their business somehow, and doing it at expense of developers seems “logical” – you sacrifice small part of the “tools” market in favor of large “consumer” pool. Adobe might “feel: they need to “force” the adoption.
Adobe is coming after a lot of companies in the similar situation. Microsoft very much killed any loyal following they had in 90s and 90s – with a huge backlash. A lot of companies driving adoption (especially after being acquired by larger financial backer) destroyed support infrastructure of software houses working with their technologies.
Adobe has to very much play this game by carefully announcing their strategy and making sure they do not interfere with the infrastructure.

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