Adobe merging desktop and web with Acrobat 9 and Acrobat.com

Acrobat.comWe made a few announcements today around our Acrobat 9 product and a new portal called Acrobat.com which is aimed at helping people work better. I think it’s significant because as a company we’ve released web-based applications like Photoshop Express and Buzzword but Acrobat.com represents something of a combination between the old world of Acrobat and PDF and the new world of Flash, Audio/Video, and real time communication. I also think it’s the best example of Adobe leveraging it’s own platform to deliver value to users.

The new version of Acrobat, Acrobat 9, includes the ability to deeply integrate Flash. It’s the fruit of the combination of Macromedia and Adobe finally coming together in each companies core products. With the new embed-ability you can incorporate movies as well as use Flex/Flash as a front end to your PDF content.

Acrobat.com Tools

The more significant announcement in my mind is the roll out of Acrobat.com. As Scoble notes, we’re trying to change the way people work. Flash has been associated with video, animation, and annoying ads, but underneath all that is a platform that’s perfect for real time communication and a more engaging collaboration toolset. We’re finally bringing all of the pieces of the platform together to provide that.

It starts with Buzzword, which hopefully will become a hub for anyone working with documents on the web. You get a great UI and the ability to quickly add multiple users to a document and then see where changes have been made. But it also spans regular document management. We’ve had a beta of Share up for a while but now Share is integrated with Buzzword and with Acrobat 9 so you can share any document or any piece of information and then embed it on a page ala Scribd or Docstoc. As part of the service we’re also allowing you to convert your documents to PDF. The final piece is ConnectNow. Connect is a online meeting application similar to WebEx. But Connect uses the Flash Player so it works cross-platform on Mac, Windows, and Linux (the add-in which enables screen sharing isn’t available on Linux however).

Acrobat.com DesktopI think that’s the main appeal of something like Acrobat.com. It’s built on Flash so you get the same experience on Mac, Windows, and Linux. The team has also released an AIR application so you can access some of the services by dragging and dropping your files. The integration with Acrobat 9 further closes the web/desktop gap. We’ve also exposed a set of APIs that developers can use to take advantage of some of these services. We’ll be rolling out more of these soon.

As an employee, I think this is a big step for the company. It’s a good use of the platform, it shows that we have a life beyond shrink-wrapped software, and it plays to our strengths – PDF, rich media, collaboration, and Flash. I think it’ a good example of RIA technologies being more than just fluff and fancy user interfaces.

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