Silverlight and Apollo: The Creation Tools Will Matter
Now that Microsoft’s Mix ’07 is put-to-bed and all the requisite excitement has devolved into a mulling it over stage, I’d like to add one thing to the conversation. The container for Apollo and Silverlight isn’t what matters. The tools to *create* what goes in those containers is what matters.
When I wrote Microsoft Surprise: Controlling the Process days ago, I was already fully aware that the tools Microsoft had developed (Expression) could be the defining factor on who would win the container war. Though Adobe would argue this point with Flex — and I’m not aware of what they probably have up their sleeve — I’m not seeing the high level tools that the people working on the brushstrokes need (the graphic designers, user interface people, etc.). Flex is a tool for those creating/programming with keystrokes and is not a tool for someone who is skilled at look-n-feel, color and a users experience.
Adobe releasing Apollo and Microsoft, Silverlight is just the first skirmish…there haven’t been any battles yet and the war is far from over. Why will higher level tools matter?
When I remember back to the early days of the desktop publishing revolution, I became a student of printing history and enamored with what Johannes Gutenberg had done to explode literacy around the world with his tool to create printed works. Without movable type and the press, books would still be created by hand.
Pagemaker and then Quark gave designers the tools to create printed works and pass off digital files to a prepress house and ultimately to the press. The analogue to today’s Internet world is that the page layout designers are to the Web creation folks as programmers are to prepress and press operators (though my developer buddies would cough up a hairball to hear me talk about them like they’re unionized keyboard bangers and ink pushers, but you catch my drift).
These higher level tools is why my wife’s business of 21 years exists. Without the major cost reductions available to common folks like us, we never would’ve started the publishing business.
Tools are also why I think Brightcove has an excellent chance of being the company to break out in the create-your-own-video channel space. They’ve got tools for producers and programmers (TV programmers, that is) to perform ad insertion, replays and other workflow that make running ones own “channel” possible.
I’m less interested in the container runtime that all this stuff collapses in to and more interested in who is nailing the workflow and higher level tools to create and deliver rich, Internet applications. Microsoft appears to have a competitive differentiator with Expression and they really understand the people that do keystroking…
…but Adobe totally and completely understands the design community and it’s in their DNA. I’m betting Adobe only released a developer-centric version of Apollo since they’re not ready to release their higher level tools. This is gonna be fun to watch.
About Steve Borsch
Connecting the Dots Podcast
Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.