Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Focus should be AIR not Acrobat

I just took a look at Adobe's new step into collaborative/social web spaces - acrobat.com.

The site is not that impressive, and little more that brochureware really, for five of Adobe's least-appealing pieces of IP: Buzzword, Create PDF, Share, MyFiles and ConnectNow - Adobe's attempt at a WebEx clone.

I was surprised by the site's focus. To me, the site comes off as an attempt by the "older generation" Acrobat marketing folks to pull off a "younger generation" trick using stuff that isn't really suited for the kinds of collaborative applications that the site hints at.

And some other things were surprising too: despite an abundance of typically beautiful interfaces, clicking the Begin" button on any of the offerings I tried resulted in the appearance of a faux-dialog box that lacked any form of "close" button, tab or even text-based link. The only way to "close the box" is to click in the empty black space next to it.

This wouldn't normally be worth a mention, except that this is *Adobe* - the kings/queens of tasty UI design. There are very few folks better at the game than Adobe at walking consumers down a predefined nav path.

When it comes to potential for collaboration and sharing of tools, I think Adobe should have put all this PR money behind a truly socializable technology - Adobe Integrated Runtime, or AIR. AIR is a seriously cool collaborative platform, but despite some early successes, it just isn't getting the kind of push it should be, or being opened up to the extend it needs to be.

In fact, right now, AIR is on the same adoption path as PDF - which I'm sure pleases some of the "old time" marketing folks. But 2002 levels of success should please no one. The exponential rise of competitive pressures means that things need to be adopted at a much-faster pace these days to rank as even a partial success.

There is the kernel of a haiku in here somewhere for these normally hot product guys: Adobe should focus on the AIR, not the Acrobat.

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