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20060405,00


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Le ROI.

Adobe and Adobe engineer Scott Byer are getting mud flung at them. Byer came out with a blog entry (I'd love to know what system he uses - it's horrible, it inserts   for 'Americans' with their silly double space after a period) trying to explain why CS2 won't be a 'Universal Binary'.

[I'd also like to see someone - preferably the Bearded One himself - get on the hot seat for a Q&A crossfire and explain what's so good about universal binaries as opposed to just having different binaries like everyone else - but that's not going to happen, is it?]

So Byer posts an article called Macintosh and the Intel switch and writes:

'By now you have probably figured out that we aren't releasing Universal Binaries of our current application versions.' And yes, people have figured that out. And he goes onto explain where Adobe code actually is.

'When that original PowerPC transition was done, Apple did something clever. Very clever.'

Best to start with the accolades, Scott. Good thinking.

'The emulator that ran 68k code would recognise when it was calling out to PPC code, and would fiddle with things on the stack using the Universal Procedure calling vector.'

So basically Adobe could run their old code base through a thunking layer. Nothing new there.

'With a plug-in, Photoshop could get a majority of the speed up as if it were a fully native application, but - and it's a key point here - without having to recompile the vast majority of the Photoshop code, along with the resulting testing hit, mounds of debugging, and everything else that would imply.'

So in other words, with the move to Mach-O, Adobe could get their code 'up to speed' by fiddling with plugins rather than tackling the code base itself. This didn't go down well with all, as evidenced by the comments on the page. Yet a quick run of 'file' on Adobe executables will tell the story - they're still PEF.

But hello? Adobe aren't forced to do anything. What they've sold they've sold - and they've made good on their commitments. No one was forced to buy an Adobe product.

Adobe will take a plunge when it's profitable - and certainly not when it's a stupid thing to do, when it's not profitable. Look for a moment how things looked from their perspective only a few years back. Look instead at Apple.

1996-1997: Apple are tits up and Amelio is flirting with BeOS, Windows NT, and NeXTSTEP all at the same time. Hardware and software quality are at an all time low. Even schools in the neighbourhood don't want Apple computers anymore. Amelio has to discontinue an Apple laptop line with no successor for a month because it's so shitty. And market share, once at 40% or more, is down to an all time low of 8%.

8%.

Go Apple. Hehe. And as if Adobe don't see this. Forbes and other financial sources were saying it's all over. Michael Dell suggested doing a Gordon Gecko on the sorry mess. No profits in nearly four years and no cash and a few weeks or months at most from bankruptcy.

Meanwhile, the Windows market is thriving. Adobe make most of their money here. There are no great hurdles here either - not even when moving from 16-bit to 32-bit. But Apple fuck around with new processors, make obsolescence itself obsolete, and it's hard to keep up. Yes, Adobe could keep up - if there were a ROI. But who can say there's ROI with the way Steve Jobs does what he calls 'business'?

Apple told Adobe and everyone else 'here's NS aka Cocoa and it's going to be great' and Adobe already knew that because they knew NS. But the NS they knew ran on a lot of platforms. But Apple, not NeXT, have it today. Is it going to take off? Are they going to let it fly? Is Steve Jobs going to let it fly? It should, right? It's that good, right? Will will they - will he - let it?

That's the biggie. That's enough reason for any corporation to wait. And it's been a long wait. And all these years later still nothing has happened. 4% market share is not something to write home about or to upturn software projects over. As if.

4%.

The platform is grounded, totally grounded, in Steve Jobs' business model. When Steve Jobs tricks Amelio out of his job everything gets pulled in, everything goes totally proprietary again, and the board pats Jobs on the back for having less than half the market share Amelio had? Today Jobs sells animated movies and iPods. MP3 players are 70%; computers 4%. Jobs never fixed Apple's IT world.

So what are Adobe to do? What would you do? Make iPod accessories? Invest a lot of time migrating huge code bases to a platform the vendor is going to keep locked in? For what? A less than 5% market share? You gotta be kidding. You gotta be on drugs.

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