Fish-Slapping Dance

Mac pundit John Gruber makes some very disparaging comments about Adobe on his Daring Fireball site, in an article titled The Fish Rots From the Head. In it he condemns what he sees as Adobes recent focus on sales, rather than on creating great and innovative software:

Rather than expand into untapped creative markets, Adobe seems hell-bent on expanding into the jerks-wearing-suits market, a market that’s completely at odds with the creative market they’ve dominated for nearly two decades.

I’ve always been a fan of Adobe products. Right now I’m eagerly awaiting the arrival of my pre-ordered copy of Creative Suite 2. I can’t help but have a sneaking suspicion that John is right about the direction Adobe is taking. The fact that Adobe is introducing product activation into Creative Suite 2 seems to be a clear symptom of the sales driven road that they are heading down. I subscribe to the belief that the only people inconvenienced by product activation schemes are paying customers like myself. Those who want a pirate copy will just wait until some kind hearted hacker releases a patch that circumvents the whole thing and makes installing much easier.

Adobe products have a lot of momentum. The wealth of features in their current applications will power their dominance for some time. But, as John Gruber points out:

When is the last time Adobe has unveiled anything truly innovative for the graphics-and-design market? InDesign 1.0? That was nearly five years ago.

[…] the main reason Adobe Systems has been a success is that they created and developed terrific, innovative software. Engineering talent isn’t enough; you need passion for innovative products at the top of a company.

If that spirit continues to wither, Adobe will continue its slide into mediocrity, and will become just another software company. But if it becomes a bigger company while doing so, I suspect that will suit Bruce Chizen just fine.

I hope Adobe can keep creating effective, innovative products. I really don’t want to end up having to use CorelDraw.

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