Adobe Kicks Internet Apps to The Desktop

Adobe Systems  has released the alpha version of
Apollo, the code-name for a new development environment and runtime that can
be used to build and deploy rich Internet applications on the desktop. Both
the runtime and the software developer’s kit (SDK) are available immediately
for download free of charge.

Apollo allows developers and designers to create software in HTML, JavaScript, Ajax, Flash and Adobe Flex that combines the strengths of both Internet- and desktop-based applications into a single application.

The first time end users want to use an application built using Apollo, they
will be prompted to download an executable file. Thereafter, the application will download and run on their desktops, whether or not they are online.

People can launch the applications directly from their desktops and interact
with them offline. When a network connection is available, newly created or
changed content can seamlessly synchronize. In future versions, end users
will be able to drag-and-drop items, such as image files and other media
assets, directly into applications built using Apollo.

Pam Deziel, director of product marketing for the platform business unit at
Adobe, explained that Web applications can be deployed and are more easily
managed through a browser, but that desktop applications provide end users
with a richer experience. With Apollo, “developers can take advantage of the
desktop to create an even richer and more immersive experience,” she told

The fact that Adobe is driving developers to the alpha version of this
application demonstrates how important the development of new applications
is to the product’s success. “What this is all about is what the developers
are going to do with it,” Deziel admitted.

Eventually, Apollo will also allow developers to create applications for
mobile devices, which is also central to Adobe’s strategy. While it has not
signed deals with U.S. carriers, it has a version of Flash running on mobile
devices in Japan and elsewhere in the Far East.

“Mobile devices and non-PCs are a real focus for us,” Deziel noted.

Jeffrey Hammond, who covers application development and developer tools at
Forrester Research, said that rich Internet applications running on
the desktop will make it possible for developers to create Web applications
without the constraints of the browser, while still being able to take
advantage of the Web’s networking strengths.

“It’s the ability to connect and be updated by the Web that matters, not to
exist within a browser,” he told

He also noted that Adobe’s aggressive rollout is indicative of “the intense
competition in rich Internet development.”

Microsoft is rolling out the Expressions application developer toolkit and WPF/E (or “Windows Presentation
Foundation/Everywhere,” the code name for the cross-platform development
environment it said it will launch at the end of April).

How big a deal is this? “Microsoft is nothing if not persistent. They’ll
keep plugging away until they get it right, and they’ve decided that they
want to get it right,” Hammond said.

Adobe CEO Bruce Chizen contrasted Apollo’s ability to work across platforms
and on non-PC devices to applications from Google , which
requires users to be online, and Microsoft , which
requires users to adopt the Windows operating system. Apollo “enables people
to consume content offline” on any platform they choose, he said during the
American Association of Publisher’s general meeting in New York earlier this

The shadow of Microsoft has certainly not gone unnoticed by Chizen, but he
believes his company has an unwitting ally.

“They’re a $50 billion monopoly with unlimited resources, and they would
like to keep that monopoly going. We’re a concern for Microsoft,” he said.

So what, in his opinion, is keeping Microsoft from crushing this “concern?”

“There’s a heat shield called Google that’s diverting Microsoft’s attention,”
he said.

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