Thursday, March 18, 2010

Adobe, Apple and the UX Platform Holy Grail

This is a guest post by Shivesh Vishwanathan.

As the search for the dominant mobile platform continues amongst players, including Apple and Adobe, it is helpful to bring out some analogies from the past. This stand-off has many similarities to the Microsoft/Win32 vs. Java dominance battle that was fought a decade ago. Apple is today's Microsoft with its proprietary OS and a strong iPhone developer community. Adobe is today's Java with its dreams of becoming a device-agnostic platform. "Singular experience, multiple devices", proclaims its Open Screen Project.

One problem that Adobe will have to tackle is that in today's world, the user interface paradigm can only go so far in providing great user experiences. What today's devices and platforms enable is much more than UI. They provide Interactive User Experience or IUX. IUX combines three types of interactivity, Interface, Sensor and Location, which in turn exploit unique platform capabilities such as direction, touch, orientation, location, movement, proximity and others. As you can see, user interface is just one piece of the puzzle that is the next generation application.

Apple not providing Adobe with access to iPhone is a war for platform supremacy, no doubt. What is also true is that the singular experience that Adobe wants will force the company to go way beyond UI. If history is any judge, Adobe has its task cut out. Creating a write-once-run-anywhere platform is the holy grail of software, but if Adobe treats it like a panacea, it could be in trouble.


  1. Thanks Shivesh. For readers who wish to get a more detailed discussion on IUX and to request a white paper that explains and illustrates IUX, please visit

  2. Both are pioneers. Apple, with over $30 billion in cash, should buy Adobe outright, whose market cap is about just $18 billion.
    It would be an explosive combination if both come together rather than Apple trying to suppress Flash.