Macromedia Inc. Tuesday announced the appointment of Juha Christensen, a former Microsoft Corp. executive, to the position of vice president of the companys mobile and devices division. Christensen and Macromedia Vice President of Products Norm Meyrowitz spoke with eWEEK Senior Writer Darryl K. Taft about why Christensen came to Macromedia and the opportunity that lies ahead.
Why did you leave Microsoft?
CHRISTENSEN: To start operating a new company in the mobile community space. And until two weeks ago I was starting up that company very actively.
From my side, generally the way I see it is that I spent the last 10 years or so on the operating system side, really helping define some of the operating systems that will define the phones that well see going forward. And I think that has been some extremely exciting years. What I want to spend the next 10 years on at least is to help enable the experiences that will light up these devices. Because once we have a phone with an advanced operating system, the missing ingredient really is the ability to create great content and services that will light up these devices—and provide meaning to them. Thats why we are aiming to go out and continue to deal with mobile operators, to help them reach out on one side to the developer and authoring community who can write the content and on the other side to the individuals who will use this content and these services. The operators really serve as proxies for these end users.
You could not have done this at Microsoft?
CHRISTENSEN: No. Microsofts aim is to provide an operating system for these devices and to provide the stack that sits on top of the hardware and powers the phone. Microsoft doesnt provide a Flash-like thing that enables an authoring community to put together the types of content were talking about here and render that onto devices.
MEYROWITZ: And in fact well be working on Microsoft phones and other phones. So we expect to be a partner with them.
CHRISTENSEN: One of the interesting things behind my reasons to come here was that actually I originally left Microsoft to form a startup and then in starting to discuss things with Norm and others at Macromedia here I realized that there was really a set of very interesting technologies, a great team of people and some aspirations that would enable someone like me to come in and take another round at helping to propagate these types of new devices out to a broad range of people. And meanwhile I could leverage the relationships I already have with mobile operators and device manufacturers to really provide this next level of software that creates these new experiences. Macromedia often calls this the "experience layer," and I think thats a good term for it.
Can you talk at all about what your startup was going to be?
CHRISTENSEN: Yes, it was aimed at enabling people in wireless communities to communicate with each other. I think a lot of the content that will be generated in years to come will actually be generated by what you might call "amateurs," or individuals who have a desire to reach a finite set of people. So you know in content terms you have one-to-many content on one side and you have one-to-one content on the other side. And I think the stuff in the middle, which is one-to-few content, is going to be really exciting on mobile phones. Because a mobile phone is a very, very personal device; its always with you, its always on and its intimate as well in that quite often youre the only person that sees the screen. Whereas on a PC you share it with other people who sit and look at it over your shoulder or next to you.
So the concept was really to produce some software that would enable wireless communities to offer some information and get it rendered on devices. And it turns out that a lot of the technology that will be necessary to do that is technology that is under development here at Macromedia. So with that technology youre able to do of course stuff in the wireless community space, but youre able to do a vast superset of that. If you liken it to a shopping mall, well be able to go out and get the anchor tenants … the ESPNs and the Disneys, etc., and well be able to get all the smaller shops and the community guys. Youre able to really provide a very, very wide range of developers and authors with a wide range of tools that enable them to provide a wide range of content and services that go out to all these deserving end users out there with their advanced devices.