Apple vs. Adobe
So now it really gets interesting.
Wired posted this video yesterday showing a tablet-ready version of its magazine powered by Adobe AIR, a standalone program that runs Flash applications on Macs and PCs, but not the iPhone or the iPad. (At least not yet.) Not coincidentally, Adobe announced that a mobile version of AIR is in the works, expected to power more than 250 million BlackBerries, Android, Palms and other smartphones by the end of 2012.
It appears that Adobe won't sit idly while Steve Jobs hypes his flashy, Flash-free tablet. And it appears that the publishing industry suddenly has an intriguing alternative to the attention-grabbing iPad.
Wired produced its electronic edition by leveraging its existing workflow, which suggests that newspapers and magazines may soon have Creative Suite-friendly tools to help them migrate from pages to pixels. Wrote Editor Chris Anderson, "The content was created in Adobe InDesign, as is the case for the print magazine, with the same designers adding interactive elements, from photo galleries and video to animations, along with adapting the designs so it looks great in both portrait and landscape orientation."
As publishers wrestle with the economics of producing iPad-only content — and holding on for dear life to their subscriber lists and revenue streams — another strategy emerges: Develop AIR-powered publications using existing resources that can be distributed not only on tablets but laptops, desktops, smartphones and netbooks. The user base already exists; no need to wait for the iPad and gamble that it will someday be as popular as the iPhone. The newsstand of the future becomes a wall of inexpensive touchscreens, enabling customers to peruse their favorite newspapers and magazines and download them to the device of their choice with a swipe of a credit card.
It's Apple vs. Adobe, unless the two decide that it's better to collaborate than to clobber one another. It seems unlikely though, with the Wall Street Journal reporting that Jobs bashes Flash in closed-door meetings with Apple employees, and Adobe planning to include a workaround in its next version of Flash that lets users export content in an iPhone-friendly format, subverting Apple's stance. Meanwhile, Amazon is likely rekindling its strategy in order to stay in the game; Google is determined to dominate the mobile internet; and Microsoft seems unlikely to watch from the sidelines.
To borrow a quote from the philosopher Terrell Owens . . . getcha popcorn ready.