I saw this demoed at Adobe Max and was blown away. The experience they’re creating in AIR makes you want to read the newspaper. After seeing the demo I wanted to run out and subscribe. But some time has passed and the newness/hotness/gotta-have-it-ness of the application has worn off a bit and I’m left wondering, “Why would I pay $3.50 per week for content I can get completely free?’ Is the recreation of the newspaper-reading experience so good as to warrant a $3.50/wk expenditure?
The problem with this application strategy is that it hitches it’s wagons too heavily to the Newspaper Experience – not the content experience. Meaning that, is a dual-column, page-turning format the best for absorbing the content? Is it best for exploring content/concepts/archives/photos giving you related content, taking advantage of hyperlinks and rich media?
It may be an exact replica of the newspaper experience, but is that what customers really want? Mother economics will ultimately be the judge.
When going to a trade-show it’s natural to feel hyped about the products on display. Every car show I go to I leave convinced that now is the right time to buy that 2-seater I’ve always wanted – but it never is – it’s just the hype. Trade shows have been honing the craft of making you want what they’re hocking for years and they’re quite adept at it. The thing is, Adobe MAX was a little different. Of course I left wanting to run out and buy CS4, but not for shop-therapy or wanting something shiny or new.
When Apple launched their new Mac Books I wanted a new one – for about a minute. Then I looked down at my year-old MacBook with 4 gigs of RAM and thought how silly wanting a new one was when the one I have is bad-ass. Not the case with CS4. There are actually new tools to be used, new and easier workflows for creation and faster performance. We live in Adobe products and we make our livelihoods using their tools. Upgrades are key. The following is my recap of my thoughts at Adobe MAX this year: Continue reading →
The functionality and promise of Adobe Connect is mouth-watering. The idea of what this thing could be isn’t an application, its a revolution. Collaborative screen-sharing, web-conferencing with integrated audio, video and text chat, file-sharing, the cure for blindness and cold-fusion. Great where do I sign up? Oh – its FREE?! We’re saved.
Then you load the application itself up, load the required plug-in and invite a colleague to join your virtual meeting and it all goes to shit. I’m really starting to hate Flex apps. Chuggy. Chuggy. Chuggy. When will the makers of these apps stop trying to be cute with animated fly-outs, pulsing, glowing buttons everywhere and (most likely procedurally generated) gradients and bevels and when will they start making web-applications that are snappy, zippy and responsive. Adobe Connect feels like I’ve just dipped a baseball bat in ink and I’m trying to write a love-letter. It’s cumbersome and unresponsive and generally kills my vibe.
Now there are some great things about Adobe Connect – the feature-set, oh the feature-set. I’m sure on someone’s computer somewhere in the world works like a charm. And that’s a sight I’d want to behold.
But for now, I’d prefer it to look like crap and function well. And I guess that’s what’s really at the heart of this rant. I’m tired of beautiful things that don’t DO ANYTHING (and I’m not calling Adobe Connect beautiful, but it’s certainly nicer than goToMeeting). Maybe Air will change things by running processes locally. It better, because as it exists now, I can’t use Adobe Connect (on a MacBookPro with 4(!) gigs of ram and a Core2Duo 2.4). It just doesn’t function properly.
First is that if the Adobe TV content channel for professionals keeps growing there may be an enormous opportunity to carve out a niche for researchers, professionals, DIYers and just about anyone else looking to learn or spread knowledge. I just fired up the Flash in a Flash episode and immediately saw the potential. Now they just need ot beanch out beyone using Adobe apps and encompass many other areas of science and technology. Leave YouTube to the kids, this can be a great professional resource. But it has to remain free. And ditch the third-rate B-roll content from the Fodd network (pitcured above) and others. Waste of time.
The second is the feel I get when using this “app”. Ahhh Adobe AIR. Taking all of the power of Flex and the experiential richness of Flash to the desktop for use on and off line. But just because applications are being written with richer toolkit doesn’t mean they should utilize glows and tweens and transitions and blurs too liberally. I still like my applications feeling zippy. Especially once I’ve left the exploratory experience behind and I’m just looking to drill down into the content I’ve self-identified to. I first encountered this issue when I was at AOL with Boxlee, again with using the first release of Adobe Bridge and now with Air apps (yes I’m generalizing). How come every Air app feels the same? Somewhat sluggish in response to the user’s wishes. Overly caught up in transitions. Chuggy. They all feel like Adobe Bridge CS2. I actually think this Media Player app is one of the better Air apps in that it commits these transgressions the least (I’m looking at you Ebay Desktop). Is is just me? Nah mean?
A lot is being written about this today so I’ll just offer two thoughts…
OK so clearly Adobe can pull off a fantastic RIA with tons of functionality – but not tons more than some competitors like Picnik. And what’s with the limited online-photo-sharing-site integration? Px currently offers integration with Facebook, Photobucket and Picasa… What about me, I use Flickr? (maybe I’ve chosen to align myself with a child of a corporate-parent competitor and I’m being punished)
The logical next thought regarding this lightly-featured (lightly by desktop application standards) RIA is: Why would I use this if its so easy to obtain the real Photoshop? Especially if I’m a Flickr user (as I’d be using Picnik)? I believe the answer is : “start kissing easy access to cracked or educational versions of Adobe products goodbye”. Seriously. This is the first step to further siloing power and casual users. Once casual users gets hooked on Px they have no choice but to purchase the new, future, very difficult to crack, very expensive, Adobe Creative Suite. They already do this to some extent with their Photoshop Elements offering – but the problem is that if people are going to go through the trouble of installing an applicaiton, they’ll jsut install the real thing. Bringing the lite version of their software online allows Adobe to further segemnt/partition/silo their user-base.
Illegal/edjucational software useage crackdown to follow in a big way.
Buzzword is a web-based document editor owned by Adobe. Now that Microsoft Office 2008 is out in Universal Binary for Mactels, users are realizing that there are many many alternative options to the shackles of Word/Office. I’ve been a iWork user (+ Sun’s Open Office for spreadsheets) because of the dismal performance of Office 2004 (Mac). I don’t honestly know why offices prefer forcing Mac-Using employees to use MS Office. It crashes, slows down the system and is generally distracting to the overall pleasure of using the Mac OS. So I’m glad it looks like viable alternatives to the oppression of Office are starting to gain traction and acceptance. Oh – and it looks like buzzword is a flex application – it’s zippy and responsive UI is a pleasure to use.