Dvorak Has Right Idea, Wrong Platform

John Dvorak claims that itis time for Adobe to fight back against Microsoftis Silverlight initiative by porting its flagship apps to Linux. Itis the right kind of thinking, just the wrong platform.

Mr. Dvorak, in a well considered editorial took a look at the emergence of Silverlight, the situation with the NBC coverage of the Beijing Olympics, and how Adobe has responded to Microsoft threats in the past. In this case, Microsoft is trying to unseat Flash with Silverlight, and its use on the NBC Olympic coverage is a strategic move by Microsoft, with NBCis consent, to achieve that.

The solution, according to Mr. Dvorak, is for Adobe to stop running from Microsoft, but to turn and fight this time. However, the platform he proposes is Linux. Porting Adobeis flagship Creative Suite to Linux would be shot across Redmondis bow, he wrote.

"Having complete control of a high-powered OS would make all of the performance-demanding Adobe software run rings around any other implementation, if engineered correctly. It would become the viable desktop alternative to both the PC and the Mac," Mr. Dvorak wrote.

The problem with that approach, as I see it, is that one doesnit attack a company that has 90 percent PC market share on a platform that has 1 percent market share. Adobe already has the Creative Suite on the Mac, but theyive bungled that product by holding back on aggressive development options, such as 64-bit support on the Mac.

Adobe has developed a reputation, in some peopleis eyes, of doing things only half way on the Macintosh, a platform thatis making dramatic market share gains and that could make a lot of money for Adobe.

Meanwhile, the debilitating struggle between Apple, Adobe and Microsoft to set the standards for Web media and video within a browser is just creating headaches for consumers.

John Gruber has written a convincing essay on why Apple wonit buy Adobe. I agree with it. But that doesnit mean that Apple and Adobe canit work smarter together to combat Microsoft on the right kind of platform, Apple Macintosh, with 8+ percent market share in the U.S. and gaining market share worldwide.

Linux isnit the way for Adobe to "shoot the bear" as Dvorak claimed. But a tighter, crisper competitive arrangement between Apple and Adobe is. That means that Adobe focus more on making all their products on the Mac best in class. This lingering and crazy competition between Adobe and Apple: Flash vs. Sproutcore, Lightroom vs. Aperture. Premiere vs. Final Cut Pro is just a drain on both companyis resources, and Microsoft knows it.

It reminds me of the debilitating UNIX wars in the 1990s between Sun, SGI, Hewlett Packard, IBM and DEC. Microsoft swooped in with Windows NT, and damaged all those companies and, with help from Linux, ended the era of the expensive, capable UNIX workstation.

Until the climate between Adobe and Apple improves, that MS bear is just going to run down the slowest guy at the camp site, as the joke goes. I agree with Mr. Dvorak on that.