I’m disgusted at Adobe today.
It has now well and truly become tradition to have the post-MAX November layoffs. This year reportedly 750 employees got dismissed across North America and Europe (worse than the previous record after MAX Milan 2008). I wish them all the very best.
If you start to see a recurring theme like that, anyone would realize something is going terribly terribly wrong. The hard economic reality hits all of us you say? Adobe backs it up by a press release stating “We expect to report record revenue within the fourth quarter […]”, eliminating hundreds of full-time jobs gets classified under the thinly veiled euphemism of “restructuring”.
By now Adobe has reorganized their internal house keeping so many times, Martha Stewart should come take master classes.
Things get worse. News starts to trickle out about Adobe abandoning Flash Player on mobile. Not an unusual rumor to see pop up in your twitter stream if you’ve been around our community for the last year or two. This time it was different and slowly – judging by the roles of people who got dismissed and reading between the lines – it became apparent there was more to the story.
Just 18 months ago at Google I/O 2010, Vic Gundotra bailed out Adobe and the idea of having Flash Player on mobile with the words “It turns out on the internet, people use Flash” and announced Flash Player support on Android. This after Steve Jobs gave it a near fatal blow with his infamous “Thoughts on Flash” letter.
We’re refocusing on developing applications through AIR across mobile devices while continuing to innovate on the web. From Flash Player 11 onwards we will not be getting updates on mobile devices apart from bug fixes and security updates.
This whole move seems to me like cutting off the leg of a perfectly healthy patient to save money on shoes, only to realize you have to buy them in pairs. The web doesn’t stop where mobile begins.
Supporting a runtime across a wide range of devices is difficult and expensive – if it wasn’t Flash would not nearly have been so successful. Arguably we came closer to this as a reality than ever before.
What bothers me most is the utter disregard Adobe has for its developer community in the way this is communicated. This is not the company I’ve grown to know and love, this is not how you treat your most loyal customers and passionate evangelists.
Just weeks ago thousands of people came to the annual MAX conference in Los Angeles to hear about Adobe’s plans and roadmap. Not a word was mentioned about abandoning development on Flash Player for mobile, is this how confident Adobe is about its decisions it can’t defend them in front of their user base?
I’m part of the community programs since the Macromedia days, certified instructor, author, participated in countless prerelease programs – can barely keep track of how many NDAs I’ve signed with Adobe over the years. I’ve promoted the technology through good and bad times and this is how they chose to break the news.
Bad communication doesn’t just piss off your developers – it cuts budgets, causes projects, jobs and livelihoods to be lost. And boy, has there been some bad communication. I’ve lost all confidence in Adobe as a company through the recklessness they’ve demonstrated in the last two days.
[note] views expressed are mine alone and may not reflect those of my employer.