Manas Kumar, Thinking out Loud

my thoughts & visions for technology

Posts Tagged ‘SaaS Wars

SaaS Wars.Google and Apple ganging up on Adobe

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Funny enough, I got this image from Google (No cencorship there!!!)

Warning: Some of my regular readers will find this blog post highly controversial and may not be able to relate with it upfront. However, I’m just thinking out loud…

You know how there’s all this hype about SaaS, Cloud Computing and who the ultimate dominant players will be in the marketplace? Well I’m about to expose an uneasy fact about this race for domination between organisations like Google, Adobe, IBM, Microsoft and perhaps even Apple.

First thing to notice is that each of these companies have their own definitions for cloud computing and are not prepared to accept a unified definition of what the heck is this thing called Cloud Computing.

Eric Schmidt from Google said “Cloud computing is exchange of data over a std. TCP/IP connection delivered (perhaps) via an HTML 5 application” – notice the reference to HTML 5 – hold that in your mind for a moment.

Now Adobe has, in the last 2 years developed a bunch of online apps that compete with Google in the area of document publishing (BuzzWord, Presentations and Spreadsheets), File Management etc. Adobe’s trump card is Flash – 98% penetration rate and on top of that- instant browser compatibility – it truly is a trump card for Adobe. Add to it the fact that some of the technologies Adobe is delivering through its Acrobat platform are built using special plugins for Flash that Adobe is (openly) refusing to make available as part of the std Flash SDK. For example the plugin Adobe uses to provide screen sharing inside Connect using Flash. Google it… Then there’s Adobe’s ability to produce apps that look “good” – this all adds up to one significant and unfair advantage.

Now obviously players like Google dont like this idea so out comes the hoo-haa about Flash being inappropriate for delivering rich user experience because “someone” wants to push the alternative – HTML 5. Google, as smart as they are, are a bunch of geeks – they produce highly functional stuff but poor in design and UI appeal. In short – very vanilla.

Alongside this you have Apple refusing to support Flash in any of its market leading products like the iPad/Pod/Phone – however, Apple is happy to support HTML 5. Both Apple and Google want to push Microsoft into the corner – that’s easy enough though…

Now guess which 2 companies are leading the charge with finalising the specifications for HTML 5 – Google and Apple. Are you smelling the burnt offering yet?

Recently Adobe announced that in its next release of the Flash Builder they will provide a way for Flash AS3/4 code to be re-bundled as Objective C code for fast and easy deployment on Apple products.

Apple comes out last week with an announcement stating that on the iPad and iPhone 4.0x only apps built using the X-Code/native Objective C constructs will be allowed on appstores for instant deployment – check it out – this is an all out effort to keep Adobe out of this race for SaaS domination.

Now in the middle of all this Microsoft, in the corner has been pushing its Silverlight platform – which is now supported out-of-the-box in Windows 7 and Vista updates. Personally, I think Microsoft has yet again shot itself on the foot – I know ways that we have been brainstorming about in the area of “how to use Silverlight to compete against Microsoft products online”.

And then there’s Microsoft’s Office online that was due for release in APAC around March, 2010. In this suite of apps there’s an evil product called Outlook.

Ask Michelle from Email on Acid and she’ll tell you how simple HTML emails render inside Microsoft’s Outlook 2007 and 2010 – It’s shocking to say the least. While everyone else has advanced their HTML rendering engines (well done Gmail), it seems like MS is going backwards. Care to comment on this anyone?

Another ironic fact. Have you also noticed: for you to be able to watch an Apple video, you need Quicktime; for watching a microsoft video you need Silverlight or the Windows Media Player plugin. YouTube is already capable of serving videos without Flash using HTML 5. So to continue Adobe’s mandate to maintain Flash player as the standard for delivering video content, Flash 9 announced support for MP4 files with .H264 codec support – So its almost like every time the world is throwing lemons at Adobe, its turning them into lemonade – Good on you guys… I can sooooooo identify with Adobe right now.

So what’s the sum total of all this argument – Google is evil? Apple is arrogant? Microsoft is foolish? (thats proven beyond reasonable doubt), Adobe is being victimised? Perhaps all of the above but the fact of the matter is that anyone who considers themselves even a small player in the SaaS arena (that includes mid-sized guys like us) has a lot to consider/think about in terms of

  • Delivery
  • Design
  • Dependencies

From what I understand, HTML 5 will not be 100% supported and the final documentation not finalised until 2017 (yes thats millions of years away…); but the fact that Firefox, Chrome and Internet Explorer 8 (I struggled to believe it) already support HTML 5 in some capacity – so the battle is at the doorsteps. But it’s all good though, I just hope that Adobe continues to produce lemonade and we’ll see how far these big boys go to chuck lemons at Adobe.

I still believe Adobe has unfair advantage when it comes to design, delivery and dependencies in the online apps arena…

As always, I welcome your comments.

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