What Adobe does, it does extremely well. They have a focused audience and steer their design toward that audience. Adobe has been, and likely for the foreseeable future will be, the gatekeepers of content generation. Given this current situation though, are there potentially turbulent times ahead for Adobe?
Where is the turbulence? Adobe's Air is mostly hot. Adobe's Flash is now seeing a three pronged attack against it that would make Erwin Rommel shudder in fear.
On one front, we have the unyielding Steve Jobs that has been clearly attacking ground on both Flash and content generation. Premier has been hacked down by both Final Cut Pro and Avid. Aperture has clearly specialized in on photography far enough that Photoshop's jack-of-all-trades may get caught slouching.
On the second front, the elephant known as Microsoft is peddling Silverlight.
On the final front, and perhaps the worst one, Google is attacking Flash with a driving push toward HTML5 and CSS. The move is even so bold as to having Google give up on proprietary elements such as Gears. Factor in the iPad and iPhone into the HTML5 / CSS attack, and Air deflates a little more.
Let's assume that the future continues to crumble for Adobe in those two capacities. No more Flash design needs. No new Air market design needs.
What now? Could the boat be sinking for a company that doesn't have as much diversity and flexibility as the other three? Can Adobe count on being allowed in a room that is getting more and more locked out in the iPad / iPhone? What if Microsoft or Apple start pushing their own content generation packages that start clipping further into Adobe's markets?
If we look into a future that more clearly focuses on content creation and the audience that needs it, is there a possible end-zone run here? "Tolerated" status on Microsoft turf, potential competitor on Apple turf, and no turf likely on Google OS, what is a company to do?
In the realm of pure speculation, what if Adobe adopted Linux with both arms?
Now before you bust out laughing, I ask you to consider the following few questions. Please note that some of them involve billions of dollars worth of potential revenue.
1) How desirable do you think a completely beautifully designed Adobe Creative Workstation would be to a design company? By designers and artists for designers and artists. The best possible interfaces and the best possible hardware.
2) How much would companies like to have a workstation that focuses strictly on their work without the additional overhead of licensing fees or yearly operating system upgrade fees?
3) How much do you think Hollywood with its extremely deep pockets would like to have Photoshop rendering and running on zero-license fee workstations instead of the alternatives? Remember, Hollywood needs computing workstations and render nodes like the Roman army needed soldiers.
4) How much value is there in a system that is custom designed, tweaked, and precision tuned the way that no do-it-all system could be? Fewer crashes as Adobe would have a fixed target platform. More refinements and performance tuning than ever possible on proprietary operating systems in addition to open ended render nodes for (3) above.
Finally, as wild as this might sound, I'd point all of the readers that know little about Autodesk's Flint, Flame, and Inferno stations over to their respective links.
Linux as Adobe's end run? Maybe, just maybe...
I'd also add that I find it completely unfortunate that more Linux vendors don't cater to audience specific high dividend production pipelines. They are everywhere, and yet not a single shop has been set up to deal with the specific needs of these sorts of industries.