Thursday, May 1, 2008

Adobe shoots for 'create once, present anywhere' value with worthy Open Screen Project

Trying to deliver rich content effectively to the stubbornly heterogeneous end-user device tiers has produced more tears than triumphs. Adobe is aiming to fix that with the ambitious and inclusive Open Screen Project, which today throws adobe's considerable installed base weight behind an industry-collaboration movement to standardize interface delivery.

By leveraging Adobe's ubiquitous Flash Player and soon Adobe AIR, the project's ambition is to allow ease in creating rich content -- including video -- and delivering it consistently to televisions, personal computers, mobile devices, and consumer electronics. The means is a consistent runtime environment for content, applications and services to present well across a variety of "screens," from cell phones, mobile Internet devices (MIDs), and home entertainment set top boxes.

Adobe's efforts will provide a significant counter-punch to Microsoft Silverlight/Live Mesh move to accomplish similar values using the market presence muscle and developer allegiance to the Windows, .NET and Visual Studio world.

May the best means to get the job done in a way that aids developers while protecting the choice of consumers -- and being acceptable to the content, network, and device makers -- win. The Adobe-Microsoft tussle on this front may be just what's needed to break a moribund app delivery solutions field apart, and to get the job done ... finally.

The announcement builds on Adobe's earlier forays into open source adoption drivers for Flash. Adobe's newest moves may even force Microsoft to be more open with its technologies, always a welcome development in the market. That's because the Open Screen Project includes:
  • Removing restrictions on use of the SWF and FLV/F4V specifications
  • Publishing the device porting layer APIs for Adobe Flash Player
  • Publishing the Adobe Flash¨ Cast™ protocol and the AMF protocol for robust data services
  • Removing licensing fees
  • Making next major releases of Adobe Flash Player and Adobe AIR for devices free.
And there's a community! Such partners as ARM, Chunghwa Telecom, Cisco, Intel, LG Electronics Inc., Marvell, Motorola, Nokia, NTT DoCoMo, Qualcomm, Samsung Electronics Co., Sony Ericsson, Toshiba and Verizon Wireless are keen to Open Screen. And content provides seem to like it to, including BBC, MTV Networks, and NBC Universal.

This is an exciting development. I hope it's open enough to both assuage the "Adobe lock-in" critics and force more openness generally in this market. The de facto accepted standard is needed.

Enterprises ought to take a hard look at this as a potential way of delivering via RIAs content, services and applications from SOAs to many devices and types of consumers in a common approach. Very powerful.

And wouldn't all of this pair up nicely with Android and the Open Handset Alliance? Adobe ought to join OHA ASAP.

And I very much look forward to getting and delivering a lot of the best content to all of the best places.

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