Is Adobe being disrupted?

I couldn’t believe what I heard from Bruce Chizen, Adobe’s CEO at the World Business Forum. Adobe is a company that revolutionized Desktop Publishing in the ’80s, their market is design and publishing software, both ‘classic’ and web. We all know about Flash and Acrobat, but they are also expanding in the enterprise software with workflow and document management . They have many competitors, one of the biggest is Microsoft basically on all markets.

Give the competition, I was expecting to hear from Chizen that Adobe had a strategy to be unique and different. Instead he said all the things that I expected Ballmer to say. For example, he talked about “piracy” in China making the same tired equation “illegal copy == missed sale” and the need to educate the Chinese. I’m so sick of hearing this equation.

When asked about competition from Microsoft’s Silverlight, Chizen answered something like “Adobe is ahead of Microsoft, Flash is better and we have ahead of Microsoft with AIR“. He even said “look at microsoft.com and see that MS itself uses Flash”. Boy, after such revelation I felt bad for Adobe’s investors.

Chizen seemed to ignore that Microsoft has 750k business partners eager to use the tools they know best (Visual Studio, for instance and C#) instead of yet another proprietary environment. He basically laughed at Free/Open Source environment, a mistake that Microsoft is not repeating. My concerns aside, fact is that Mono is much more open than AIR plus it is readily available to the smartest developers in the world (the FLOSS crowds). Not to mention Java, Free Software, millions of developers, hundreds of tools, frameworks…

To me it seems that Chizen is condemning Adobe to be disrupted by competition and that’s sad for all of us.