Adobe AIR Looks Beyond Competition from Microsoft Silverlight and Google Chrome

Adobe CTO (chief technology officer) Kevin Lynch takes a "what, me worry?" attitude to Adobe's competition in the Web design and Web development tool maker's core market. Lynch said Microsoft has not impacted Adobe with its Silverlight or Expression design tool set and Google Chrome does not make Adobe AIR an antique.

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- In an interview with eWEEK, Kevin Lynch, chief technology officer at Adobe Systems, said Adobe is looking beyond competition from Microsoft and others and focusing on providing innovation for its base of designers, developers and end users of its technologies.

For instance, when asked whether the new Google Chrome browser with its nascent ability to run Web applications as desktop applications might present competition to Adobe's AIR technology, which enables users to run Web applications across operating systems and work on the Web as well as the desktop, Lynch said: "Chrome is a Web browser and I'm excited to see more innovation in the Web browser space."

However, "the ability to run an application in Chrome and save a shortcut to the desktop, right now what that means is basically it's an icon that launches you to a Web page and then you're interacting with that application again," Lynch said. "That's not the same approach that we're taking with AIR, where you can actually install a Web application on your computer and it runs whether you're online or offline and you can access information you couldn't with a Web application -- so being able to access your local documents and edit them in a word processing application or a rich editing application. That's not possible inside the Web model with the sandbox. Doing things like notification on the screen and being able to drag and drop information between applications, these are things that AIR is enabling you to do on the computer that the Web browser doesn't do."

Moreover, Lynch, who spoke with eWEEK at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Emerging Technology conference here, asked why should a user have to switch from a preferred browser to Chrome anyway. "If you like using Firefox or you like using Opera or Internet Explorer and you want to install a Web app on your computer, you have to change browsers," he said. "And my view is you shouldn't have to change browsers, you should be able to do that without having to make that switch."

However, Lynch said that now that Google is also supporting the WebKit engine, which Adobe also supports, in Chrome, the companies will likely be working together more. "There's a lot of momentum around using WebKit as a core technology for HTML," Lynch said. "We adopted that for AIR and we're contributing to the open-source project. Nokia is active there, Google is, and Apple is. So I really think there's increasing momentum around that as a good implementation of HTML that is broadly applicable and works on mobile as well as on PCs."