adobe fights fire with…teddy bears

Adobe launched a new ad campaign today along with a response to Steve Jobs’ declaration that Flash will never be supported on iPhones, iPads, and iPods last week.  (In fact, they’ve added a whole new Freedom of Choice section on Adobe.com.)  There are a few amusing (and somewhat contradictory) statements in Adobe’s open letter (like this one: “If the web fragments into closed systems…their success will come at the expense of the very creativity and innovation that has made the Internet a revolutionary force.” Um, seriously Adobe?  You just said that?  After swallowing your smaller rival Macromedia to become a monopoly in web development and design software and — as a bonus — acquire the very technology we’re having this open/closed argument about, you’re talking about closed systems (hint: Flash is a closed system) coming at the expense of creativity and innovation?  Really?), but you can read it for yourself on Adobe’s site.

What I find most interesting about this new love campaign isn’t even positioning Apple as the bad guy and Adobe as the ones really interested in freedom and openness (while authoring — and trying to save — a patently closed and proprietary system).  (Also note: “open markets“, as described in their letter, is entirely different from “open standards” or “open source“.)  I’m interested in the fact that all of this love is aimed not at consumers — who don’t give a crap what powers the stuff they do on the internet and who will, regardless of what comes of the Adobe vs. Apple feud, still buy iPads, iPods and iPhones — it’s aimed at developers.  It’s aimed at designers.  It’s a desperate we-just-made-massive-improvements-to-authoring-Flash-apps-with-CS5-and-we-don’t-want-to-lose-money plea to not abandon Adobe to open standards and HTML5 and everything else Steve was preaching about in his letter.  Apple is not going to change their stance.  Ever.  This letter was designed to get the people who make Flash apps to not reconsider making those apps with Flash and using something else instead.

What’s also interesting is that, weren’t we just talking about a possible lawsuit against Apple?  Now, “We love Apple”?  Really?  What was that thing that one guy who preached all about love said right before he was carted away…something like “Judas, must you betray me with a kiss?”

[audio:devo_freedom-of-choice.mp3]

signs that Adobe Flash is on the way out

i’ll spare the discussion of how Flash is dead because Steve Jobs says it is.

while i agree with him on all of his points, i’m not really into the all bow to the great and mighty Steve camp, even while the rest of the industry bows to the great and mighty Steve.  (i may think it’s just a tad bit snotty for Steve to simply not support a development platform that’s become so ubiquitous as to be an industry standard, but i can’t deny that it’s his prerogative as a hardware and software manufacturer to support — or not — any platform he wants.  adobe wants to sue apple?  please.  on what possible grounds?  hardware doesn’t support software all the time, even to the point that intel-based Macs don’t run some of the software that non-intel-based Macs can run, and vice versa. what makes this issue any different than apple not supporting windows software?  i would like to wish adobe luck; if they win, it could set a precedent that would lead to the end of OS-specific software, which, in a way, is sort of what adobe is trying to do anyway with Flash and Air.)

i also don’t think the iPad is the be-all end-all technology product.  but there are some interesting trends.  and i do think it will change the way we think of computing and, in particular, how we look at the web.  (i don’t think this because i see apple as being able to single-handedly define our web browsing experience.  remember that little thing that Google announced six months or so ago, the ChromeOS?  and how the OS would only work on specially-designed hardware, about how the operating system, essentially, was the internet, about how the internet would be changing and blah blah blah, remember all that?  and all the people at the official announcement were busily typing into their netbooks thinking that this would be a netbook operating system but how could anyone want to run this netbook operating system when there wasn’t any actual software and had such limited features…kind of sounds like the iPad now, doesn’t it?  one major technology company with their fingers deep into the pot of user experience of the web with the most popular mobile browsing device — the iPhone — does not necessarily define the direction of the industry and the web (although it could).  two major technology companies with their fingers deep into the pot of user experience of the web — one of which is essentially the name brand of search — just might.)

this, however, is the interesting juxtaposition of information that i think is particularly telling about the demise of Flash as a standardized development platform:

the iPad is used, predominantly, by well-to-do men in the 35-44 age bracket.  it’s not the young geeks (like me) probably because we don’t have the cash to throw around to buy one (and are probably spending more time texting and listening to tunes at any rate, things that make the iPhone a better fit, although half of them also have an iPhone).  [source: Mashable — iPad: The Device of the Rich?]

the top 10 luxury brands (as reported by Forbes in 2009) fail to work on iDevices (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch) because they use Flash.  some of them — most notably Gucci — have some functionality, but 6 out of 10 die when faced with a Flash-less browser, and of the broken 4, only Gucci has any real functionality.  [source: PSFK — Top 10 Luxury Brands’ Sites Fail To Work On iPad]

it doesn’t take a genius to do the math.  rich, older guys (older than me at any rate) — guys who probably largely resemble jon stewart, pictured above — are the ones buying iPads, but the top 10 luxury brands (read: stuff that rich guys — and gals — like to buy) can’t be viewed on iPads because they use Flash.  the makers of luxury products want the rich guys and gals with disposable incomes (the ones that buy iPads) to buy their stuff, so they are going to have to redesign their sites to use HTML5 or at least provide a non-Flash alternative.  more will follow.  eventually, whether Adobe likes it or not, whether HTML5 skeptics and detractors like it or not, whether HTML5 is really ready or not, HTML5 will become the de facto standard because people want their sites to be viewable on more platforms.

that’s why adobe is pissed off, and they have a point.  but so does Jobs.  HTML5 is an open platform.  Flash is not; Flash is owned by Adobe and, as such, developers need to wait for Adobe to add new features to be able to expand and innovate their software.  That is not the case with an open platform.  in the end, i think Jobs’ points trump Adobe’s.  even if Google makes a tablet, and HP makes a tablet, and Amazon upgrades the Kindle to be more tablet-like, and they all support Flash, the very fact that Jobs has put his foot down in a “not gonna do it” sort of way means that brands and developers will need to decide whether to build a site that can be viewed on a mobile Apple product or…not.  i think the one million iPads sold in the first month and the most popular mobile phone crowns can suggest what direction that will go.

app review: skimmer

application: skimmer

result: undecided

with so many great twitter and social networking apps out there, there’s a lot to choose from, and some stiff competition. and with so many social networks and a lot of crossover between them, you’d need to work hard to build something to suit everybody. this is a review for a new app called skimmer which was featured recently on smashingapp’s 13 free adobe air apps that can make your lives easier (thanks to @creydesign for tweeting this earlier today).

skimmer allows authentication to twitter, facebook, flickr, blogger, and youtube. that’s great, but what about the facebook chat? i hate it and rarely use it but what about myspace (i do have a page. two actually, one is an artist page)? we have a blogger account, but it’s not our main blog, and has only recently been launched since we started making blogger templates, so what about room for another blog. or any rss feed? and what about multiple twitter accounts?

my current setup uses digsby as a cross-platform messenger that gives me updates on facebook and other social networks, and twhirl for twitter, which allows me to use multiple accounts (and friendfeed, which i don’t use anymore). twhirl lacks the filter capacity of seesmic or tweetdeck (which is why i don’t follow everyone who follows me, or follow everyone in my field to boost my following), but i like it better than both options because both of those don’t give specific updates when someone in a particular filter tweets, they just say “1 new update”. i don’t care, i like to see the notification, even if i don’t have time to read it, because sometimes i care about what people are saying, and if i have time to glance down, i may choose to open the app and see the update. i can’t skim with “1 new update” so i never look at the application and i miss things, or alternately, i’m constantly flipping back and forth between working and checking the twitter stream and that’s not productive. if i had dual monitors, that would be a different story. i might have reason for seesmic or tweetdeck then, but now, not. so any new twitter or multiplatform application has to compete with, and beat, what i currently have set up. and really, it has to go one step further — i will switch immediately to any twitter application that gives me individual twitter notifications for tweeps i follow in a particular filter category (i.e. the one that’s active).

skimmer does the same kind of notifications as tweetdeck and seesmic, a single box that says “x new updates” when you have more than one (which still beats the filtered notifications of “1 new update” that tweetdeck was doing last i used it). and it still doesn’t filter, so it doesn’t solve the “to tweetdeck or not to tweetdeck” dilemma.

skimmer-profileon the other hand, skimmer is gorgeous. it’s the best designed twitter application i’ve seen, possibly the best designed application, period. it has different color schemes and the profile page is everything a narcissist could want. you can customize how you want your profile to be arranged, with a big honking flickr stream at the top, and two smaller streams underneath, or more, using all 5 feeds on a fullscreen view. It seems to me, though, that unless you really are a huge narcissist, you wouldn’t necessarily want all this space devoted to yourself. possibly other people, or possibly to show other people on a lifestream. indeed, there is an embed code, presumably so you could create a lifestream version of your skimmer profile after you’ve pimped it out.

skimmer also has the ability to upload to youtube and flickr within the application, which is pretty awesome if you are active on those networks. i usually do a huge page of flickr photos all at once and then nothing for months and i’ve yet to upload to youtube, so it doesn’t really help me out much, but it’s still cool.

multimedia content is where skimmer rocks the world.  the twitpic integration is pretty much awesome, showing a grayed-out version behind the tweet which disappears and reveals the image when you hover over it.  likewise, flickr photos are similarly well handled, allowing you to scroll through all the images that were posted in the set within a single entry in your feed.  and facebook photo updates can be expanded to show the full photo, a kind of feature that even the facebook site doesn’t have the like of.  and for blind or otherwise visually impaired folks like me, being able to expand a tweet or facebook update to be an attractive, larger size entry is also really sweet.

all these things make the limitated services, no notifications, and lack of apparent flexibility aggrivating because skimmer could be fantastic. it could at least outdo friendfeed, and possibly replace digsby, at least in the updates department, if not as a messenger. i have specific desires in a new social networking application and skimmer doesn’t quite get there for me. i wish it would, but it doesn’t, and as such, it hasn’t made me a convert (but it could, potentially, if they read this and decide i’m a genius and that they are going to add all the things i ask for because i’m so awesome. as that’s fairly unlikely to happen, i probably won’t be using skimmer. but you can, because chances are fairly likely that you (whoever you are) are not me, so if you use these services, and don’t have the rigorous requirements i do, it would be idea.