Adobe’s Open Screen Project is a good move for the company and a reminder that, per Andy Grove, only the paranoid survive. TechCrunch has a good article on the details of the announcement. What’s perhaps a little more interesting is the fact that there have been some significant changes at Adobe in the past few months:
- CEO Bruce Chism departed and was replaced by COO Shantanu Narayen.
- The co-head of the platform business unit John Brennan departed. The top job in the platform business unit (which has Flash, Flex, ColdFusion, etc.) went to David Wadhwani who used to lead Flex product development.
- The head of the mobile business unit Al Ramadan departed to be replaced by the head of mobile marketing Gary Kovacs. Mobile, having been a separate group, came under the platform group where it logically belongs.
The net result is an alignment of strategy around Flash with a focus on market penetration & share grab in new markets such as mobile. This adds much needed coherency. In the past, for example, Flash Lite tried to balance penetration with driving revenue. That didn’t work well. Similarly, online Flash was open-sourced and standards-based in some ways and proprietary in others. Now file formats and wire protocols get opened up.
By opening up this way, Adobe is altogether eliminating or putting at risk some small revenue streams (Flash Lite licensing and some of the enterprise data services) with the hope of cementing Flash’s cross-platform leadership.
But, you might say, Flash has had all the market share online that it might ever need yet this hasn’t translated into a huge business for Adobe. What’s the real impact of the Open Screen Project likely to be? My guess is that all those leadership changes, followed by as big an announcement, are indications of an upcoming shift in how Adobe views the business model around Flash across platforms.