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Summary:

After years of focusing on desktop software, Adobe has finally gotten the memo that the future is in cloud storage, web-friendly technology, and mobile apps — and launched a “transformation” to address those markets. But Adobe’s bold new direction will almost certainly come with growing pains.

Bright clouds over blue sky

For nearly 30 years, Adobe Systems has made the lion’s share of its revenue by  selling multimedia and creativity software for desktop computers. But that focus on the desktop has grown increasingly out of touch in recent years, as the larger technology landscape has shifted toward heavier usage of mobile devices and software-as-a-service applications hosted in the cloud.

Well, it seems like Adobe finally got the memo about the world entering a post-PC era. In a series of announcements at its MAX 2011 conference Monday, Adobe revealed a new focus on cloud technology and a much stronger mobile strategy, showing that it is more serious than ever about addressing today’s dominant tech industry trends.

The announcements, in a nutshell:

  • A bunch of new mobile apps
    Adobe unveiled “Touch Apps,” a family of six apps made for Android tablets and the iPad. With Touch Apps, people can do things that they had previously only been able to do on Adobe’s Creative Suite desktop software, such as full featured Photoshop image editing. Touch Apps will be available on Android tablets starting next month, and the company will announce iOS tablet availability in the beginning of 2012.
  • A “transformation” to the cloud
    Adobe’s over-arching initiative is dubbed “Creative Cloud,” which will be the hub for viewing, sharing and syncing files created on Touch Apps and Creative Suite. Creative Cloud is generally aimed at letting people work together and collaborate, no matter what device they’re on. Adobe’s top brass is not mincing words about how important this is. “The move to the Creative Cloud is a major component in the transformation of Adobe,” CTO Kevin Lynch said in a press release. More details about pricing and availability will be announced in November.
  • Cozying up to HTML5
    In recent years Adobe has perhaps been best known for Flash, a proprietary technology that powers animation and video on the web. But lately Flash has been a dirty word of sorts in tech circles, as independent developers and big companies alike are increasingly deciding to instead support HTML5, an open source Flash competitor. On Monday, Adobe was conspicuously mum on Flash and talked up its own HTML5 and open source efforts. Exhibit A: Adobe announced it has acquired Nitobi Software, a company that makes PhoneGap, an open source platform for building HTML5-based mobile apps.

The new moves are very smart, but Adobe should not spend too much time on self-congratulation just yet. Adobe’s new direction will almost certainly come with growing pains as it adapts to a radically different cloud-centric business model, and the fact that Adobe is a public company won’t make things easier. Stock market investors are a notoriously hard-to-please and impatient bunch, and getting used to the new rhythm of revenue generation (mobile apps bring in money in a very different way than desktop software does) will probably take some time. Everyone knows it’s nearly impossible for an old dog to learn new tricks — but you have to give Adobe credit for giving it a good try.

  1. Another linkbait headline. You really should be ashamed. Experienced developers know that HTML5/CSS3 only cover a small part of what Flash is able to do. They are not mutually exclusive. They will co-exist for the foreseeable future.

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    1. Agree

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    2. Also agree. Jumping on the same uninformed bandwagon as so many others to drive blog traffic. Get real and learn a few facts: http://www.thoughtsonflash.com

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    3. Colleen Taylor Tuesday, October 4, 2011

      Thanks for input, Bob. The headline refers to the fact that Adobe was notably reticent about Flash in its public presentations yesterday, while very vocally emphasizing its focus on other technologies.

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  2. Seriously amateurish thoughts – Everyone knows it’s nearly impossible for an old dog to learn new tricks — but you have to give Adobe credit for giving it a good try. Will definitely avoid gigaom.

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  3. Flash will continue it’s roadmap out of the mainstream of webs and content that can be accomplished with only traditional HTML (HTML5 is nothing more that HTML+js+CSS with few new improvements but with all of the problems of the past).

    As part of the new strategy in mobile, Adobe continue improving Flash Mobile based technologies for iOS, Android, BB and so on…

    As Bob says coexistence is what we should expect, and that’s great for all creativity ways we get with this great technology combo.

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  4. Terribly misinformed article. Expected more of gigaom.

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  5. Why all the sour feelings? Microsoft did the exact same thing. They suddenly down-played Silverlight and talked up HTML5/CSS/ JS. If you read their marketing hype around Expression Web 4 you’d almost think you’re reading a product detail on freshmeat…they are screaming ‘standards’ at any given chance. This article isint ‘far out’ at all – I think it points to an unusual but evident state of affairs the big players suddenly find themselves in. So if you develop for those platforms and find it unnerving to read articles such as this, then get used to it…. because many companies are faced with this same reality.

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    1. Adobe doesn’t “down-play” Flash, therefor the missleading title. HTML5 is a good example of bloated, incompatibility and slow progress, but hey that’s is what web developers are used to. Technologies make progress in parallell, its just Apple that have a vision to give their users less choice and choose for them.

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  6. Please Take the High Road for Content Wednesday, October 5, 2011

    I’m disappointed in GigaOm lately. Not getting much from it and it seems like the articles are becoming more similar to the “fanboy” and “deadpool” style of writing that deluged Mashable and Techcrunch (which I no longer read as a result).

    It also seems like the authors of the comments contribute more than the author, or at least that’s the case for this “article.” I think I need to just stick to articles written by Senior writers like Matt, who’s written some great content in my opinion.

    I hope this comment and all the other similar comments here help GigaOm get back on track with high-quality, well informed articles.

    @ Tom (above near the top in comments)

    Nice site. Glad to have seen your site with actual facts about Flash. This one was really eye-opening. I know Machinarium was popular and created in Flash, but didn’t know all the details that you provided :

    Machinarium, a graphically rich puzzle and adventure game reached the #1 position for paid iPad Apps in September 2011.

    It was created in Flash and delivered to the iPad via Adobe AIR.

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