Adobe appoints former Reg man as open-source chief mobile lead

Proprietary player prepping for community skoolin'

Adobe, maker of such renowned proprietary products as Flash Player and Creative Suite, has hired a career open-sourcer to lead mobile marketing.

Matt Asay has quietly been appointed Adobe’s vice president of mobile for the firm’s digital marketing business, The Reg has learned. He left his post as vice president of community at NoSQL database MongoDB on 31 October.

Asay said he will he plans to “help channel existing energy around mobile and help future out new mobile strategies for driving additional growth.”

He'll be the locus for the transition to mobile for Adobe's digital marketing group.

Open source is a component of the business but won't be the main focus of Asay's role.

Asay blogged of his new post:

Will it include open source? Of course. As I wrote recently, every company necessarily involves open source now, because every company must appeal to developers. Adobe is no different and has recognized this for some time. (PhoneGap, anyone?)

Back in 2011, Adobe bought Nitobi Software, creator of the open-source PhoneGap and PhoneGap Build projects for building HTML5 and Javascript apps on Android, iOS, BlackBerry and other operating systems.

Who is Asay – aside from being a former Register columnist.

Asay has run business development at successful open-source CMS specialist Alfresco, he's been chief operating officer for Ubuntu-shop Canonical and he ran open-source strategy at Novell. He now serves on the board of directors for SugarCRM, JasperSoft, MindTouch and others.

Asay is a business and operations type and a believer in community and open source.

Taking Asay to its corporate heart is a radical step for Adobe, a firm’s that’s had an epiphany on mobile.

Time was, when mobile to Adobe simply meant more space for its proprietary Flash Player.

Adobe’s media player was on 90-plus per cent of PCs and what was the smart phone or tablet than just another type of PC.

Adobe kickstarted the Open-Screen Alliance and lifted royalty restrictions to usher things along.

Alas for Adobe, Flash ran up against Steve Jobs, who declared war on the player, barring it from Apple’s devices. HTML5 and native apps were his choices.

Adobe saw the writing on the wall and killed mobile Flash while the Open Screen Alliance has since melted away.

Mobile for Adobe now means two things: first, a platform, like the Mac in years past, for its creative tools used by creative professionals.

The second? A way for Adobe's media and marketing customers not just to deliver digital products – magazines, newspapers, film and TV - but also measure engagement and advertise by collecting and analysing behavioural data. The interactive edition of the Daily MailDaily Mail Plusruns on Adobe's Creative Cloud. When it's working.

Adobe is now a 100-per-cent a cloud content beliver. It puts out surveys talking about the importance of mobile to creative professionals.

This month it launched a new Creative Profile for creatives to sync their “assets” – files, photos, colours, fonts and so on – on different devices from one account.

It has been buying software firms to build the infrastructure behind its cloud: Omniture Software for $1.8bn in 2009 to combine web analytics, measurement and traffic optimisation with its content-creation tools. Day Software in 2010 to manage web content and – then – Nitobi in 2011.

So everything worked out for the best?

Not quite.

Like anybody steeped in decades of making money from selling licensed software, making money from the cloud is taking a long-time to pay off. Literally.

Adobe’s third quarter missed analyst expectations, as did its fourth-quarter forecast.

You can blame transition from the old to new changing models, and the fact the latter needs to build critical mass.

Adobe is heavily tied into a smart-platform that’s already losing market share.

Adobe also seems to have an iPhone or iPad first approach on mobile and Creative Cloud and all the related apps come out on Apple first.

Android is supported, but Creative Cloud is still in preview mode in Google’s Play store.

This probably stems from the days of the Apple Mac, the choice for content creators, but iOS market share is slipping and the dominant platform is Android.

If you want mass market, Android’s your bet. If you want rich niche, it’s Apple Part II.

These challanges and how to partner with developers and others to extend the marketing suite on mobile will likely be on Asay's plate. ®


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