At a west coast investor conference Monday, Adobe Chief Financial Officer Mark Garrett said he doesn’t see an impact to Creative Suite 5 adoption from the recent moves by Apple to restrict Flash development for the iPad and iPhone. And Adobe Investor Relations VP Mike Saviage asserted that HTML5 is still in its formative stages but Adobe will lead the pack for tools when it’s ready.
Highlights from the 25-minute presentation are transcribed and excerpted here:
I’m sure you read the papers – there’s a lot of press around Flash, but there’s actually also a lot of momentum with Flash as well, moving from PC to non-PC devices. We’ve announced that Flash Player 10.1, which is shipping soon, will be supported by 19 out of the top 20 smartphone manufacturers, so we’re going to be on virtually every smartphone out there. We’re very excited about Flash 10.1 and think it’s going to be a great, compelling experience for customers and a big product launch here for Adobe.
There are roughly 1.3 billion devices in the world that already have Flash in some form on mobile handsets. We think there’s 3.5 million Flash designers and developers in the world, a number that grew 59% last year over 2008. You’re going to see Flash 10.1 first on Android devices, but we’re working closely with companies like RIM for BlackBerry, Palm/HP, and others to bring that same capability to their devices.
Obviously the bar has been set by Apple with their devices, and everybody’s racing to either hit that bar or to exceed it – and every one of them is using Adobe as a differentiation because of the prevalence of Flash in the world and how people use it to create rich, engaging experiences – video being only one aspect of why Flash is used in the world. We’re on track to ship 10.1 imminently – you’ll see it at Google I/O, and in the second half of this year you’re going to start to see a lot of devices shipping with the code we’re going to deliver to handset manufacturers in the coming weeks.
[In response to a question about the impact of Apple’s actions] So the question is regarding the six million creative professionals and how they weigh their decision to use our tools, given what is going on with Apple. Those six million creative professionals, they’re all going to still use our tools, even though they’re creating content for Apple. We don’t think there’s going to be an impact to our Creative Suite tools as a result of this change from Apple. What it basically means though is they have to have two workflows now – one to create content for the Apple devices, and one to create content for everything else. And I think it’s a little bit of a misconception out there is that people would not use our creative tools for Apple devices, but the truth is they will, they’re just going to have two workflows. Our customers are now challenged by having to add a different workflow, and it’s very frustrating for them because they have to add cost at a time when they’ve been trying to cut cost.
[Regarding HTML5] We’re the leading provider of HTML authoring tools for professionals with Dreamweaver, and whatever the formats of the future are, Adobe will support those, including HTML5. Adobe will be the best tool provider in the world for HTML5 content, when HTML5 is ready. The fact of the matter is it’s nowhere close to being ready today – there’s very little browser support for it and very little HTML5 content currently on the web. The issue is that HTML5 is still in the specification design stages, and we’re a long way away from getting agreement around some of the technologies within, so it’s sort of a chicken-and-egg situation. We want to help our customers get there, but it’s going to take years and not a matter of weeks or months.
The duo also offered insights on the launch of CS5 generally:
We’re going to have a tremendous product launch here in 2010 – CS5 is the largest product launch in the history of the company. We’re in the midst now of shipping every major language around the world and it’s an incredible release – if you look at the press and the reviews, they’ve all been stellar.
Again, like we’ve done with prior releases we’ve had significant performance improvements in the product, the workflow and productivity is better and better, the integration of all our products working together is better and better, and it’s going to be a very successful release.
There’s a lot of pent-up demand for CS5, if you look at the fact that due to the economy a lot of people did not upgrade to CS4… But it’s difficult for our customers to be two releases behind in the creative ecosystem, so we think more and more people will upgrade to CS5.
When we show our customers CS5, there’s many different attributes of the product that get them excited. One is the “wow” features – I’ve been at Adobe now for quite some time, and it’s been a while since we’ve seen the buzz around new features in Photoshop, new features in Illustrator, new features in InDesign – tools that millions of creative pros use every day.
So between the strong product release and the economy improving and the pent-up demand we believe that CS5 will be very successful.
And there’s momentum in other areas too, for example if you look at Acrobat, the business has picked up in the past couple of quarters and Acrobat 10 is going to launch in the second half of this year – so another major product release in 2010.