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Adobe steps on developer toes (again)

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Adobe's Shibuya project, enabling AIR developers to charge for their applications, has upset at least one developer: the chap who had already launched the same thing commercially.

Shibuya is Adobe's toolkit for creating revenue-generating AIR applications. Developers drop in a few lines of code and a button appears allowing the user to buy the software through their Adobe ID account or lose use of the app once the trial period has expired - which almost exactly duplicates the functionality Sharify, a kit created by one Kevin Luck.

Adobe had been in touch with Luck about the name of his product being too close to AIR itself - it was originally called "shAIR" - but didn't let the name dent its enthusiasm for the concept in February as expressed by AIR's product manager in a mail to Luck:

"I wanted to write you a note and let you know that I’m excited about the shAIR framework that you are working on. Application monetization is a critically important area for AIR developers and I suspect quite a few developers will be leveraging your shAIR once you make it available."

So impressed was the product manager that he apparently went off and developed something remarkably similar, rather to the annoyance of Luck - who isn't surprised to hear that Adobe is developing a competing technology, but was surprised to hear of it through the pages of El Reg rather than through his formal contacts at Adobe who seem to be giving him the cold shoulder lately.

Adobe is, of course, at liberty to extend AIR in any direction it likes. And it's not the first time developers of a platform-extending technology have had their business undermined by the owners of that platform (Internet Explorer leaps to mind, but there are numerous examples including Adobe's decision to create a spell-checking component for AIR). Still, one critical difference between Shibuya and Sharify did catch our eye: the crucial matter of who collects the money - and who owns the customer.

Luck's Sharify service lets developers collect their own money from their own customers, and he then invoices for his cut on a monthly basis. Developers using Shibuya can rely on Adobe to collect their money and pay them monthly - a critical difference for a company that already uses your Adobe ID to sell you software and books (thanks to its Digital Editions software standard on every ebook except the Kindle). So it clearly has aspirations of managing all our protected content from one simple identity. ®

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