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Will Adobe Own The API?

Adobe has finally released an alpha version of its highly-anticipated Apollo runtime. Much has been written on the potential of this cross-platform runtime, which allows developers to use HTML, JavaScript, and ActionScript to write applications which blend desktop functionality with web connectivity, but it simply boils down to this: Apollo represents Adobe’s effort to own the API – and if successful will represent a severe curtailing of Microsoft’s power. Kevin Lynch (Adobe’s Senior VP) might try to downplay what they’re trying to achieve, but it’s clear Adobe wants developers to stop and think: “Why write desktop applications using a Windows-only (and in some cases Vista-only) API, in an inter-connected, multi-OS world?”

Adobe’s hopes for Apollo are eerily like that of Sun’s for Java, but Sun was never hot on user experience, desktop, and the web. Adobe is. Adobe’s merger with Macromedia has given it a deep knowledge of the web, and no other company has come close to the deployment success that is the Flash player. The release of ActionScript 3.0, a rewritten Flash Virtual Machine, and the intense courting of Java developers (with notable successes, including “Thinking In Java” author Bruce Eckel) represents a clear strategy by Adobe to line everything up for the last big Apollo push.

Adobe’s choice of name for this project is an acknowledgement of the challenge they’ve set for themselves, but with Microsoft seemingly faltering with Vista, battling Google, and under attack from many other corners, it’s probably not a bad time for Adobe to launch Apollo.

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