Adobe Systems wants to have it both ways.
Microsoft's power with programmers is tethered to desktops and laptops, the vast majority of which run Windows. Google is trying to dominate what it believes is the new frontier, cloud computing, where applications run on the Web. Adobe, though, is trying to run down the middle with a strategy that touches on both domains.
"It's a balance of the client and cloud together that makes for the most effective applications and the best development," said Adobe Chief Technology Officer Kevin Lynch, who's planning to speak on the subject in a keynote speech Monday at the company's Max conference in San Francisco.
Since Adobe's $3.4 billion Macromedia acquisition in 2005, programming technology has been rising in importance within a company that got its start with publishing software such as Photoshop. The technology that brought the two companies together, Flash, will hog the spotlight at the conference.
Flash got its start as a way to give Web pages animations and basic applications such as games, but it's grown up since then. The Flex technology has given developers a more mature programming model, and the addition of video-streaming abilities to the Flash Player that's plugged into the vast majority of Web browsers has given Adobe's technology incumbent status. Who can live online without YouTube?
Adobe is still working on Flash, releasing Flash Player 10, aka Astro, in October. At Max, though, a Flash cousin called AIR--the Adobe Integrated Runtime--will share the stage with the release of version 1.5.
Flash and AIR are key to bridging the cloud-PC gap. For example, Adobe has launched an online Photoshop.com service, where members can upload, edit, and share photos. The site uses Flash to run the processing-intensive editing software on people's own computers, not Adobe's servers, Lynch said.
"Our operational costs for hosting that application are much lower than if we had server-side processing," and users get better performance, Lynch said.