Adobe: Microsoft's Silverlight 'has really fizzled'

Addressing attendees at a tech-and-telecom conference on Tuesday, Adobe EVP and CFO Mark Garrett spoke of the challenges ahead. Microsoft's software doesn't appear to be one of them.

Speaking at a fireside-chat style event at Thomas Weisel Partners Technology & Telecom Conference 2009, Garrett noted that "if you set the economy aside, there are a lot of tailwinds" acting to boost Adobe's reach online. Those tailwinds are coming from many sources, including the warm front centered around the fever for online video (the company estimates that four-fifths of all video online plays through its software) and the hard, cold drive to digitize information stored in printed media.

There's plenty to do, and Adobe says it's the company doing it.

What about Microsoft, asked an audience member, which launched Silverlight two years ago in April? Silverlight launched strong, said Garrett, but the push to adoption "has really fizzled out in the last 6-9 months, I'd say...We're innovating ahead of them, and they have not been able to catch up." Garrett suggested that Microsoft simply didn't have the mindset required to put forth Silverlight aggressively.

Adobe's own AIR platform, on the other hand, does not suffer from lack of corporate effort, which has passed the 100-million-downloads milestone. "We're starting to get that ubiquity" for the cross-platform software, Garrett said, chuckling when an audience member asked at what download milestone things "start to get interesting."

We have all, of course, had a surfeit of "interesting" for the past few months. Though he declined to provide an earnings call-type breakdown of current numbers, Garrett acknowledged that the economy's wearing on everyone's nerves. For instance, "the timing was tough" on the launch of the company's latest version of Creative Suite, which launched in the second half of September just as the economy tipped over.

The company's making adjustments, and Garrett touched on a few options that Adobe could pursue "if things got worse" or the expected turnaround is slow to arrive. One of the least appealing, he said, would be a corporate restructuring of the sort so firms have pursued; companies can go to that well too often.

"I don't want to get into a mode of restructuring every six months," Garrett said, adding that such shakeups demoralize staffs and distract from longer-term goals.

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