Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Adobe Air, formerly Apollo, Runtime should consume Flash Player and Acrobat Reader

Robert Scoble broke the news for me that Adobe is working on a full fledged Media Player, the succesor to the Flash Player, and Scoble is the only place I see mention that it is going to be built on Apollo. Well it's on the Adobe Labs Media Player site. I swear, I had absolutely no insider information when I suggested Adobe should do this on 4/10/07 (Scoble blogged it on 4/16). Now where is Adobe Reader ;-)?

Original Post
Mike Chambers from Adobe had Apollo engineers Oliver (Goldman? He commented on this post) and Ethan on his July 14, 2006 podcast, and Oliver said something interesting, well more interesting than the rest which was also pretty good:
Flash is on like 98% of computers, [Acrobat] Reader is on like 80%, most machines already run 2 pieces of software from Adobe at least...

Those are pretty exceptional distribution numbers ( if true ;-), ), so if an end-user installs the Apollo run-time, they would then have 3 seperate pieces of Adobe software (that was hard math right!)

Why not bundle it all together? Both Apple and Google have started doing this. Apple obviously, for architectural reasons (iTunes uses Quicktime), bundles Quicktime+iTunes together. They could do more, putting the iDisk Utility, Airport Utility, and Bonjour for Windows into one big bundle, but those things have a far less logical connection, so I can understand not putting them together.Google Pack put together most Google software you might need or want, and hey it includes non-Google software, like Adobe Reader!

So why not distribute the Apollo runtime with Flash Player and Acrobat Reader? One anti-reason could be size of the combined distribution. Reader is 22 MB, Flash Player is 4 MB, Apollo Runtime is 8 MB, so that's 34 MB (all OS X Intel sizes). That is hardly worth a second thought, put it all together! One thing that also need's to be included is Adobe Update, which would work across all Adobe products that makes sure all Adobe software on a box is up-to-date. Apple has ported their Software Update over from OS X to Windows to do this, Microsoft has Microsoft Update on OS X.

But when I said Apollo Runtime should consume, I actually had the another meaning in mind, which is why would I need Flash Player or Adobe Reader at all? Couldn't they just be Apollo applications? Reader seems much harder to do, and I understand not wanting to just through away good working software, but it would be a powerful statement from Adobe if this were done. Same problem Microsoft had at the beginning and still does to some degree, if .NET is so great, how come you haven't rewritten at least some of Windows in .NET? I know, right tool for the right job, and it all depends on how Apollo is sold, but you are going to get some using this as a con against Apollo (not me!).

One more thing, .air as the Apollo app install extension is cool, don't change it!