It's been an extremely interesting past week. I and a few of my colleagues decided to check out the Adobe MAX 2008 conference to see what the other side has to say about the future of the web (much like their folks come to MIX conferences).
I've got a bunch of notes and a lot of what I saw was simply Adobe reacting to Microsoft's position in the market. We've stated workflow and collaboration was the key driver for success, Adobe appears to agree to the point where they've dedicated the bulk of this year to focusing in on our MIX07 style showcase wins, it was almost like watching MIX07 all over again only less sizzle in terms of innovation.
Many will comment on what they think has happened, and I'm not really inclined to discuss it as it's simply a case of Adobe's pride being rebuilt here, and having listened to their XD Team talk about the struggles they've had to overcome in emulating the same concept we built 2 years ago+ in WPF (New York Times), clearly for me puts it all in perspective.
Microsoft somehow appears to be leading Adobe's innovation path(s), and I'm shocked that they downplayed their core strengths (Design) to simply react to ours. It's clear from what I've seen that Adobe really need to gain developer share in today's market, given their investment and the market the way it is, I'm just not convinced that they will yield a positive result in terms of replenishing their CS3 customers, especially given CS3 was only released not too long ago. Price fatigue anyone?
I found the overall conference to be somewhat poorly organized, in that sessions mostly required you to register before hand and when you finally fought your way to the computers to register, it was simply a case of hit or miss with the sessions themselves. In that it was a constant product placement and not much in terms of differentiation (i.e. a few of my friends whom attended made comments like "is this on repeat mode or what?").
Not to mention the food/beverages were like watching a fading Oasis come and go (500+ people lining up for coffee from one vendor late in the afternoon is just bad planning).
This for me was disappointing as I had always wanted to visit MAX pre-Microsoft and post-Microsoft, and glad it wasn't via my own funds (ie flight from Australia to US is expensive and had I paid for this out of my own pocket, angry wouldn't be the word). I'd rate WebDU to be a much better event for the same topic imho.
It wasn't all bad though, I found the conference party to be a nice touch, given the climate changes we have a visit to the museum was great work. I also found a few sessions worthwhile, especially Lee Brimelow's Adobe AIR one (Breathing AIR into your Brand or something along those lines). Lee's a funny presenter and he nailed their messaging really well, to the point I was almost convinced it would work 😉 hehe...almost Lee! 🙂
I also found the Photoshop 3D additions really impressive, given I'm doing a lot of hobby modeling these days in Maya, I can't tell you how annoying it is to unravel UV Textures just to add texture / depth to them. I think in Photoshop CS4 this will change, but haven't had a chance to tinker with CS4 yet so I'll reserve my judgement on what was promised until after I play with the new additions to Photoshop.
As for Adobe staffers in general, they were mostly quiet this year around, there was a few Product Managers that did walk up to us Microsoftee's keen to pick a fight or two, but I found giving them a roll of the eyes and turning your back on them to work, as it simply stole their thunder, that and it was funny to watch them process the whole
"err..what do i do now..act like you saw someone you know and proceed to walk towards that general direction.."
It's somewhat disturbing as well to hear a lot of presenters etc bait the audience into disliking Microsoft, one in particular was the guy trashing Windows on stage only to hear silence and the sound of his own laughter. I guess they're not ready for that kind of aggressive behavior just yet, but I'm sure with posts like these it's bound to build momentum.
Looking forward to the next conference Adobe puts on, as I'm sure we'll see MIX08 showcase wins making an appearance the next MAX09 keynote 🙂