Red Monk’s Michael Coté has the most comprehensive and deepest analysis of Adobe’s Open Screen Project to date, including a look at how it plays against the other gorillas in the pen — Sun, Microsoft, Apple and Google. Strangely there was no mention of Tamarin, Mozilla or ECMAScript. I’ve always thought that Adobe was making a long term play with ECMAScript adoption and the Tamarin donation (at the very least hedging their bets). If you have the same virtual machine running in the browser as you do in Flash Player it adds a whole new twist to the write once platform concept.
Coté really knows his stuff (he’s got development in his blood), but he overlooks what I view as the smoking gun — rich experiences. Adobe has design tools in spades and a base of designers / devigners who have a track record for delivering rich experiences that differentiate brands. I don’t see Java ever making inroads in this area and I’m a bit skeptical of Microsoft’s ability to get real traction — I know devigners Microsoft and your .Net kids are no devigners. There are lots of good people at Microsoft who really push the notion that they’re a changed animal, but even so its a stretch to imagine them giving up their OS franchise which is where playing in a truly cross platform sandbox gets them.
Everybody likes to play on the epic struggle for zero sum domination and TechCrunch is the king of this “its all about the eyeballs” hyperbole. In, Erick Schonfeld’s opinion it’s Microsoft Live Mesh vs AIR vs Google Gears.
Mesh is a yawner, but even if you’re geeked I fail to see how it competes with the “write once, run everywhere” platform that Adobe is trying to build. Mesh is mainly about data synchronization between apps — you still have to write the client pieces for all of those different platforms. Mesh does have an offline storage component similar to Gears, but unless I’m missing something that’s where the comparisons end.
I’m noticing that Adobe is putting more and more emphasis on the notion of ‘delivering applications’ rather than ‘taking web apps offline’. AIR certainly allows you to move web apps to the desktop, but I’ve always viewed it as a way for delivering rich connected clients rather than just local storage / offline use. Few apps need to run ‘close to the metal’ which means AIR is a pretty good choice for a good chunk of the desktop apps that need to be built. And lets face it, there’s not a lot of call for building enterprise software (the domain of .Net / Java) for mobile devices, but there is a premium on rich client-side experiences (look at the iPhone’s reception) which is right in Adobe’s wheelhouse. Sneaky Adobe, very sneaky.