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Web 2.0: Flash everywhere except iPhone

Shantanu Narayen, CEO of Adobe says its Flash technology won't fall to Microsoft's Silverlight

Technology trends and news by Chris Caceres
October 22, 2009
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/b63

When you think of Adobe in the space of technology, usually Flash is the first thing that comes to mind.  It's almost unheard of to not have its plug-in installed on your computer.  Without it, you wouldn't get to access some of the best things on the Web, like online video, or interactive games, or rich multimedia sites... the list goes on.  At the same time, for the digitally creative, Adobe has a line of products like Photoshop, Illustrator and Aftereffects which people like myself use on a daily basis to create all sorts of multimedia content. 

In the recent months a large name competitor has stepped up against Adobe face-to-face, Microsoft.  How?  With its Silverlight video player/plug-in.  

And, Adobe is facing a loss in revenue due to people pirating its Creative Suite of software.  

How is Adobe coping with these issues and holding its market share amid standing problems like these?  Shantanu Narayen, CEO of Adobe sat down on Thursday with John Battelle over at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco to share a little bit about where the company was headed.

In regards to facing relentless competition from Microsoft, Narayen showed no fear or worries.  Afterall, Flash is the underlying technology behind some of the most widely used video players on the Web.  Ever watch videos on YouTube or Hulu?  Well, those videos are powered by Flash, which you have to have installed in order to watch those videos.  Narayen argued, "If we lie down and play dead (against Microsoft's Silverlight), we will lose this market.  With Flash we've added the ability for High Definition."   He also added that Adobe has unique advantages, for example he shared interesting stats that anytime Adobe releases an update to Flash, 90% of the Web moves over within a year.  That 90% equals "hundreds of millions of people," according to Narayen.

And with online video comes the multiple platforms that play it back, including mobile.  Narayen shared, "There's going to be a billion people plus, accessing the Internet in the world, but not from their computers, instead, their mobile devices."  And Adobe is working hard to partner with all the leaders in the mobile space.  Some of the revealed partners included Google, RIM, Docomo, Nokia, and ironically, even Windows Mobile will be able to play back Flash videos.  

 Unfortunately, as anybody with an iPhone knows, Flash is not available yet and Adobe has yet to run Flash in the iPhone's Safari browser.  "We'd love to work with Apple to make it happen," shared Narayen.

And of course Battelle asked the big question on why Apple isn't allowing for Flash to run on its iPhone.

Narayen said the best he could, "That's a better question for Steve." 

But Adobe is making sure to keep a presence amid Apple not allowing Flash on its iPhone.  At the Web 2.0 conference Adobe announced a new feature to Flash which lets developers build applications in Actionscript and then compile those programs down so the iPhone can run them.  Basically, if you know how to program in Flash, but not in Apple's language, and want to build an application, now you can.  It also launched a Photoshop iPhone application which is free and already hit the number one spot in the App store.

On the developer end, Flash is seeing several very progressive improvements.  Quietly, Adobe recently added a VoIP stack so developers could integrate these features into their Flash applications.  "Are you trying to get developers to make their own Skypes?" asked Battelle.  Narayan cleared things up for Battelle explaining that Adobe wants anybody who uses Flash to be able to build collaborative applications, thus proving it is keeping up with the growing social Web.  

Finally, Adobe is also moving into the Web analytics space.  With the recent acquisition of Omniture, Narayen shared the company is looking to help content creators optimize that content.  These new analytics features will enable content creators to understand how all that media they create is consumed across the Web.  Narayen commented on the acquisition saying, "It was a no-brainer for us."

Photoshop'd image of Steve Jobs - TheiPhoneBlog