Year's end: AIR and RIAs raise Adobe's profile

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EffectiveUI's Franco said that RIAs are no longer the realm of early adopters, which tend to be smaller companies that want to be seen as having cutting-edge design for their Web applications. "Where we're seeing our biggest growth is ... large industry players leverage the Flash player to build RIAs," he said. And with Adobe AIR, EffectiveUI is also able to bring those same Web applications to corporate desktops.

Among EffectiveUI's customers are eBay Inc., Dow Jones & Co. and Viacom Inc. The company also built a package shipment and tracking system for United Air Lines Inc. Using Flash, the application replaced an old green-screen terminal user interface without replacing the back-end mainframe technology powering it, Franco said.

This cross-platform power is another boon for Adobe as it does battle with Microsoft to control the content being delivered on the Web, which Cutcliffe said is key to being a market leader and influencer in the current, Web-driven technology market. Though Microsoft has built Silverlight to be cross-platform and work in all of the common Web browsers, Adobe has been working with Apple for years to optimize its products for the Mac, which is becoming a more popular platform in its own right.

"I still believe the ultimate goal is content control," he said. "If your tool becomes the favorite tool of developers, you're going to control the content in the long run. ...I think Adobe has the advantage if somebody wants to get into developing applications that can be deployed both on Windows and on a Mac, or whatever type of an environment they're running."

As RIAs themselves have more market value, Adobe also is positioning itself to compete in the enterprise with products like Adobe LifeCycle, which allows business customers to automate the business processes and workflow of PDF-based Web transactions, IDC's Webster said.

LiveCycle provides support for asynchronous Web transactions, which is helpful for users who are providing information -- for example, to an insurance company -- online but don't have all the necessary information on hand to fill out the forms. LifeCycle allows users to go offline in the middle of filling out Web-based forms and return at a later time online back to where they left off, she said.

"With [LifeCycle], it's easy to move that form back online and connect that document back up to the point in the transaction where it went asynchronous," Webster said. "It's a win for both sides."

This is another area where Adobe runs into Microsoft, which aims to offer similar workflow automation through products in its 2007 Microsoft Office System, particularly through functionality in its SharePoint Server and InfoPath software. Now that its RIA strategy is sound, proving it's a worthy enterprise player with products like LiveCycle will be a critical area of focus for Adobe in 2008 as it competes in the technology market on a whole new level.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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