Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Morning Musings

A few things I came across in my morning browse:

First, there's the news that Adobe is refining its web and mobile strategy. I remember the days when Photoshop was like that cheerleader in high school: enticing, even intoxicating, but ultimately out of my reach. I loved the power and the features, but I never needed them enough to pay upwards of $600. Now, though, with Photoshop Express, I feel like I can finally hang out with the cool kids. Adobe has been a reluctant convert to the idea of web services, but they are finally (painfully?) making the move, and they're making some good decisions. "Automatically sync photos from desktop to Web to phone and back again"? Amen, brother -- that's added value, and along the way they're likely to enjoy the community love that comes when editing your photos, uploading them, and sharing them with friends are all part of the same, seamless process.

Contrast that with Microsoft, which is still shuffling its feet by the side of the pool, worrying that the web services water will prove too cold. Office Live never made a lick of sense as a branding concept unless it was an online version of the Office suite of products, and it's still not there. Touted as a "feature" is the ability to upload Office documents and then download them for use within the Office products you already own. Cool ... except that it's not any more cool than any other online storage option (including the decidedly un-sexy but more convenient alternative of simply mailing your documents to yourself as an email attachment). Of course we all know that Microsoft is terrified that the web will cannibalize its software sales, but when Adobe by comparison looks like a forward-thinking, innovative company, you've got a problem.

Second, the social networking wars are in full force; Facebook announced that it passed the 100 million user mark on the same day that news came out that MySpace might work with Amazon (or Apple, or Rhapsody) on its revamped online music service. Music is really MySpace's killer app; Facebook has the worldwide numbers, while MySpace's growth is mostly flat, but in terms of sheer US users, MySpace is still king and the main reason is music. Bands have pages on MySpace, and streaming music is already distributed throughout the site. Facebook simply has nothing to compare in that space, and if MySpace can get music retailing right, it could provide a very healthy revenue stream for a very long time.