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This article was published on May 3, 2008

What is Adobe’s Crystal Ball saying?

What is Adobe’s Crystal Ball saying?
Steven Carrol
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Steven Carrol

Steven is a web applications developer, living in south of France, originally from London. His current project is In the nin Steven is a web applications developer, living in south of France, originally from London. His current project is In the nineties, he was a designer / director of a highly successful design, manufacturing and distribution company (Intimidation).

It’s difficult for us developers, with tags such as ‘OCD’, ‘aspergers’ and ‘nerds’ to detach the word Macromedia away from Flash. But Flash has been playing Frogger for many years. Formally known as Splash, it has been jumping logs for a long time and with each new release and throughout its management changes, this single star has jumped itself into becoming one of the most dominant and integral players on the Internet today.

Crystal BallWith each jump there has been thousands of dedicated and obsessive devotees simultaneously having ejaculations (metaphorically speaking) as the gravity settles to the new possibilities that the latest incarnation makes possible. These would not be apparent to a ‘normal’ person, for only those with the above mentioned tags have the capacity to really grasp the essence of the bifurcation immediately.

Flash has explored every area of the landscape, looking for acceptance, adoption and for an audience that truly appreciates their quests. I say quests because the team behind this baby are ruthlessly exploring new worlds, as and when they find a new feeding ground, they evolve with the terrain leaving little resemblance of their previous incarnation intact. This is one team that is highly interested in natural selection and breeding with aliens!

It is of little surprise that when Adobe Flash announces that they will now explore the mobile market further (code name: Open Screen Project) that when the fruits of this initiative are ripe, we will no doubt have strange new gadgets not even predicted by Philip K Dick, that we will use to navigate the new world around us, with unprecedented access to information and communication, but in an international timezone that has no on/off switch.

So what is it that Adobe’s crystal ball is saying this time about the future. Here are some predictions of scenarios that come to mind when I dare let my imagination go wild with the inevitable consequences of the Open Screen Project.

Probably one of the hottest emerging technologies currently is live video. The technology is in a state of flux, but significant strides are being made (not least kick started by the porn industry). Stickam for example, infamous for sharing office space and employees of pornographic Web sites developers, is one of the current hotshots. Yahoo recently announced their live video platform and with their massive reach will no doubt attain a dominant market share. LiveVideo run by MySpace founder Brad Greenspan has (a roughly estimated) 50K uniques day (rapidly dropping), who against the new contenders will struggle to maintain pace as this race heats up and the new players with sleeker offerings come of age.

MS Silverlight launched their new platform and is also now competing for attention, pitched as a challenger to Flash going after the hearts and minds of leading developers, though this would appear to be a little late in the day for yet another platform given Flash gained their respect over the course of more than a decade of solid history slugging it out in this arena.

So a taste of what’s next: As Apple jostles it out with Adobe as to whether Flash is going to be incorporated on the iPhone we get a glimpse of what’s at stake for all involved. Live mobile streaming is the hot potato just out of the oven. With services such as Flixwagon and Qik setting new standards, I’m pretty sure that the Adobe Flash’s crystal ball is telling them they need to be at the forefront of mobile streaming.

To grease the wheels they are removing the paid license mobile operators have been incurring worth over 50 million USD annually to Adobe to incorporate Flash in their mobile devices and teaming up with every major player in the market, in effect forcing Apple to play the Flash game or be left out in the cold.

Therefor it’s not hard to imagine that within a year we will have live mobile users visually conversing while simultaneously broadcasting multiple streams to thousands of viewers both online and to other mobile devices. Pretty soon it will just be the norm with everyone broadcasting their own brand of nonsense, but there is a huge universal market for this and Adobe will no doubt be jumping logs until they have terra-formed this new playing field too.