Tech Spheres

Discussion of Web 2.0 Business Strategies (SaaS, PaaS, Strategy, Enterprise, Small Business, Flex)

Competition heats up for Adobe Air – Is it real?

Posted by Alex Chriss on December 9, 2008

Appcelerator announced today that they raised $4.1MM in funding and are launching their direct competitor to Adobe Air, Appcelerator Titanium.  I think this is tough market to try and beat Adobe in.  Unless Adobe pulls the plug on Air (highly unlikely), they have four major advantages:

1) First-mover advantage – Adobe already has some adoption, and when the “big-boys” are the first mover, it’s a heck of an uphill battle for a startup to climb into contention.

2) Distribution:  Titanium claims they can package the runtime environment with the app.  That’s very cool but so can Air.  And this game isn’t about packaging up installs on the first app – it’s about complete market penetration to create a seamless experience for the end-user.  Adobe is darn good at desktop distribution (see Acrobat) and has pre-existing channels.  As a developer, you really have to see a major advantage in Titanium to adopt.

3) Success-stories:  Air hasn’t blown the market away, but some apps are starting to pick up steam.  I use Tweetdeck every day now and we’re building a couple of Air apps for Intuit customers.  It feels like there’s about to be an onslaught of high-quality AIR apps to hit the market, and that’s tough for a startup to face.

3) Viability: Giving developers a choice is great – but smart developers are wary of building on technology that could be gone in a year.  $4.1mm lasts about a year, and I’m sure Adobe will tell you it takes a long time to build a strong and thriving developer community.  

After attending Adobe Max and seeing the passion the Adobe developer community has, Appcelerator has a tough road ahead.  They either need a couple of huge success stories or a big distribution partnership to become viable.  That said, excessive hubris destroys all, and Adobe needs to extend their lead.


3 Responses to “Competition heats up for Adobe Air – Is it real?”

  1. Adobe AIR is a great platform. Titanium doesn’t detract from that. Titanium has it’s own advantages as well and having multiple competitors in an important space as hot as this is very important and good for both developers and end users.

    Titanium simply has a different model than Adobe -one built around an open architecture and an open community.

    • Jeff – I LOVE the competition! And I love the open-source model. What I think is tough for you guys is going up against the durable advantages that Adobe has. I enjoy being the underdog, but if you can get some big distribution deals and/or a killer app out there, you’ll go a long way to drive developer adoption. GOOD LUCK!!!

  2. This reminds me of mdm’s Zinc (, a product that was around before AIR and that I’m hearing less and less about these days.

    Competition is good as it helps drive innovation. That said, we moved from Zinc to AIR not just for technology reasons (heck, Zinc has a few more bells that are lacking in AIR at the moment), but because of Adobe itself. Adobe provides most of the technologies we work in and the integration is getting tighter with every release of both their client and server side offerings. That means we can leverage existing knowledge and take advantage of the cutting edge stuff sooner than if we had to wait for some of these technologies to go through the painfully long process of becoming standards.

    One could argue that another advantage of Appcelerator is that it’s open source. Well, not too long ago, you had to buy Flex for something like $15k per CPU. Today, the framework is open source and Adobe is progressively decoupling some of their technologies and offering them free of charge–Blaze Data Services comes to mind.

    In addition, if I’m a technology decision maker, I feel safer with a company that is established, has been around for many years and is a market leader than I do with a company that’s just now getting funding–sorry, but it’s the ugly truth.

    I like an underdog like the next man myself and I wish Appcelator the best of luck. Another competitor in this market is a good thing. It only proves that the idea of “web technologies on the desktop” is promissing and gaining momentum.

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