Everyone has been blogging this, and with very good reason, but I wanted to think about it for a bit until I could write a balanced analysis of the Adobe acquisition of Macromedia.
Firstly, please chill. In the short term, there will be no impact on developers from this deal except for what we bring on ourselves. There will be minimal or no changes at Macromedia until the deal is approved, which will take at least 3-4 months. However, if Flash developers start pulling a Chicken Little, we’ll simply frighten an already skittish market and do harm to ourselves. While I’m sure we all have reservations, it’s in our best interest to reflect this deal in a positive light, at least until we have concrete reasons for concern.
In the longer term, I think there are 4 important areas to look at:
- Flash as a platform: One of the biggest benefits of the deal is that it stabilizes Flash’s power base, and increases the available Research & Development budget – this is increasingly important with the upcoming release of Microsoft Sparkle, the first real competition to Flash as a platform. Additionally, having the Adobe brand backing Flash will increase its visibility and viability for a lot of potential clients. My only real concern is that Adobe will bloat or otherwise depreciate the Flash player, but being as Maelstrom appears to be nearing completion (and again, the deal is not going to affect anything for months yet), this won’t be an issue until Flash Player 9 (if it ever becomes one).
- Flash as a design tool: It’s obviously a great move for designers, who will definitely see tighter integration between the products they use most (Photoshop, Flash, Illustrator, AE, etc), and likely more design functionality in Flash (AE style timeline anyone?).
- Flash as a development tool: This is one of my areas of concern – Adobe has no experience whatsoever with creating and supporting tools for developers. However, this would lead me to believe that Adobe would leave the management of this area to those with the most experience, the Macromedia team we already know and love, at least for the first year or two. My guess is that this will be one of the areas of MM that is least affected by the deal. Until I see things start playing out differently, I’m not going to worry about this.
- The Flash community: I think I’m in a pretty good position to talk about this aspect, as I run a User Group, participate in Team Macromedia, and am deeply involved in a lot of other MM programs. Macromedia definitely has a much more open corporate culture, and does a better job (imho) at promoting community. I have to admit I have concerns here, but they are pretty minimal. It wouldn’t be in Adobe’s best interests to piss off the very strong and very verbal Flash community by killing these programs. If anything, it would be to Adobe’s benefit to learn from Macromedia on this front to develop an even more loyal user base and extract more user feedback on their products.
So in summary, let’s all chill out until we have more details. This is not going to have any short term impact unless we cause one by panicking, and even the mid-term impact looks minimal. There is cause for some concern about this deal, but there is also a lot of potential opportunity.
And don’t forget: If you have specific concerns, send them to Macromedia at email@example.com.