Unsolicited Advice For Adobe, Apple, Google, and Microsoft - InformationWeek
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9/29/2010
06:43 PM
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn
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Unsolicited Advice For Adobe, Apple, Google, and Microsoft

Adobe, you really need to get your act together. A person who knows you recently told me that you're shifting a number development jobs overseas and that some engineers are polishing their resumes in anticipation of the worst.

Adobe, you really need to get your act together. A person who knows you recently told me that you're shifting a number development jobs overseas and that some engineers are polishing their resumes in anticipation of the worst.I hope it's not true, but regardless you need to do better with Acrobat and Reader security and you need to get a strategy that doesn't involve selling people $600+ software packages every two to three years. Those days are over.

Microsoft may be able to get away with it for a few more enterprise upgrade cycles, but not you, Adobe. You need better online apps. But more immediately, you need to bring out a fantastic HTML5 editor, one that makes it drop-deal simple to create not just Web pages but functional Web apps. That's not an easy engineering task, but that's what will get developers excited.

And while you're at it, hurry up with the PDF-based advertising service you've been testing. I hope it's not dead in the water. It was a good idea. Also, keep plugging away at the Flash platform. If you can cut down on the price and the bloat and improve the performance and authoring tools, Flash could get a second wind and become the object of admiration rather than something you have to defend.

Apple, you're doing pretty well. Okay, really, you're doing great. You don't need any advice, clearly. But I will venture a request. Keep going with the openness. Opening iOS development up to third-party cross-platform development tools and third-party analytics may have been forced upon you by the government, but the world hasn't ended, as Steve Jobs's Thoughts on Flash letter suggested.

And it won't end if you open the App Store up even more. Deprive Google and Android of the moral high ground. Treat apps just like books and music. Content is content, regardless of the medium that conveys it. Just block apps for reasons of security, obscenity, and low-quality (spamming thousands of app clones, for example). Approving Google's Google Voice App shows you're not afraid of a little competition. Now show us you support the free speech upon which this country was founded.

As for Apple TV, add local DVR capabilities. I know everyone says the cloud is the future. Well, not so fast. The cloud is the enemy when it deprives users of ownership. I'm not a big fan of buying movies due to the fact that relatively few merit watching more than a few times. But I would still like the ability to control and store my digital assets.

Also, please hurry up with TRIM support.

Google, how could you let something as wonderful as Wave die in its crib while continuing to feed monsters like Knol? Go ahead and build Wave into Gmail. The text messaging interface is robust enough to toggle between synchronous and asynchronous communication modes.

Buy Twitter. I'm not the first to say it, and I probably won't be the last. But do it, before someone else does. Do it before you launch another slow-to-ramp up social networking service that will never stand a chance of challenging Facebook.

And you may not want to hear this, Google, but you're going to need a retail presence. Sure, you'd be slavishly copying Apple, but if Microsoft can swallow its pride and follow in Apple's retail footsteps, you can too. Why retail? You have so many products and services and the average person can't even tell you what a browser is. Soon you're going to have your own OS. You need to reach these people, before they turn to the dark side and forsake computing for Facebook. You might even be able to make some money by providing support. If nothing else, you'd earn goodwill from users who need help. And you could make your partners happy by selling their stuff too. You'd have to go for high-class design, like Apple. But you could do it.

Microsoft, I wish I knew what to say to you. I miss you. But we're growing apart. I see you at work because I'm provided with a PC, but I have a Mac at home and your software, more and more, is going unused. I haven't upgraded past Office 2004 for the Mac. Why would I pay when I can use Google Docs for free? I used to be able to use your browser but then you stopped making IE for Macs. IE9 looks nifty, but I have Windows XP at work.

Keep going with the online advertising and Bing. You need to bring software prices down. It worked for Apple with apps and it works for Google with Google Apps. And you need to come out with compelling products that aren't exclusively tied to the Xbox or Windows.

Here's an idea: Make Windows 7 Phones capable of creating dynamic, encrypted P2P mesh networks over WiFi and other unlicensed frequencies that obviate the need for mobile carrier service. I doubt you or any of your competitors have the fortitude to challenge AT&T, Verizon, and the rest with a product that cuts them out of the revenue loop. But that's a phone I'd buy and develop for.

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