Adobe and Google might be headed for a showdown. AIR versus Cloud Computing.
Adobe’s AIR technology, recently profiled in Forbes, is designed to do what Flash can’t, by providing tools that create desktop applications that interact with the web. Forbes suggests that Adobe is angling to garner more revenue from desktop applications; it already has maximum penetration in the Internet development community. As Forbes points out, while there are hundreds of millions of users of Flash (claimed to be the most run program in the universe), Adobe gets no revenue from them. It already has nearly all the world’s Internet developers as clients (not always paying clients). So, with its AIR technology, it is going after a new crowd, the corporate developer. In essence, it is trying to build “fat clients” that sit on the desktop. In Adobe’s words,
…you can deliver branded rich Internet applications (RIAs) on the desktop that give you a closer connection to your customer.
Adobe AIR uses the same proven, cost-effective technologies used to build web applications, so development and deployment is rapid and low risk. You can use your existing web development resources to create engaging, branded applications that run on all major desktop operating systems.
In contrast, Google’s goal seems to be to be to make it ever easier to push fancier and fancier applications ointo “the cloud,” where you can “let George do it.” What Google really wants is “Let Google do it.”
Recently, at the Google IO Conference, Google dangled the bait and set the hook. As we noted in a recent post, developers using its App Engine can get started host their applications on Google’s infrastructure for free, needing to start paying only if they exceed 500MB of persistent storage and CPU for 5 million page views per month. Maybe that’s hook, line, and sinker.
Google has the worlds best cloud infrastructure, and believes that the real potential of the Internet will be realized from a variety of untethered devices. Think thin clients, or at least thinner than Adobe.
As AIR versus Cloud plays out it’s not metaphysics that’s being discussed nor is it Greek ideas of matter (the fire’s missing), but two successful companies that are vying for the hearts and the wallets of the enterprise.