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Does Adobe AIR's Future Include An Office Competitor?

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Is Adobe poised to begin competing with Microsoft Office? A piece on early last week, Tipping the Microsoft Cash Cow Could Be Adobe's Next Move, set off a lot of speculation and debate about their intentions and the opportunities in the Office Suite space. quoted Mike Downey, Adobe group manager for platform evangelism:
"Though we have not yet announced any intentions to move into the office-productivity software market," he says, "considering we have built this platform that makes it easy to build rich applications that run on both the desktop and the browser, I certainly wouldn't rule anything like that out."
Much of the speculation has revolved around a third party application developed on the Adobe AIR platform, like Buzzword (For more info on Buzzword see the wired article: Buzzword: Web-Based Office Docs Never Looked So Good). Another company, SlideRocket is developing a competitor to Powerpoint using AIR as well.

In an interview Friday with CNET, Downey seemed to clarify his early remarks.
"Our primary focus is building a platform that allows developers to build great Web-based applications," Downey said. "AIR is the ideal platform for building these types of Web applications that are robust and powerful."
Adobe has an obvious incentive to want to see great applications built using Adobe AIR, as that will only serve to propel the platform. Adobe has gone as far as to invest in the companies building these applications, which is likely what help to fuel all the speculation. See below, also from the CNET article:
At the same time, Adobe is encouraging start-ups to write sophisticated Web applications that could be online alternatives to Microsoft Office. Adobe is an investor in Virtual Ubiquity, a company that is writing a sophisticated online word processor built with

Adobe's Flex development tools. The application, called Buzzword, runs on Flash and will run on AIR.
CNET points out that Adobe is of course looking to leverage the AIR platform.
Adobe is also looking to exploit AIR within its existing product line.

"One of the main reasons we did AIR is because Adobe wants that technology to build new applications" he [Downey] said.
It is likely we will continue to see this kind of speculation, both valid and invalid, as the platform and its uses continue to evolve.

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