The Zorn announcement yesterday was just too big to sit on for more than a day. I may tend to sensationalize a little bit, but if you believe (as I do) that Flex will become the defacto standard for RIAs, then this announcement may be the biggest one this year. By announcing that Flex can be compiled into a SWF file that can be distributed and used by anyone that has the Flash player, Macromedia has both increased the user base and fundamentally changed the business strategy for Flex.
If you take a look at Macromedia’s most recent financials (this is all from the Designer/Developer category), you’ll see that in the first quarter of 2006, “Multimedia and Graphics Tools” accounted for a (relatively) paltry $20.6 million in revenue and “RIA + Servers” accounted for $17.2 million. Multimedia and Graphics Tools would be programs like Captivate, Director and Authorware. The RIA + Servers is Flex, ColdFusion and JRun among others. Web Development, however, which is essentially StudoMX brought in $47.6 million dollars, and that’s the lowest number since Q1 of 2004. [Category Definitions Here]
Obviously Web Development is where Macromedia’s bread and butter are. By having Flex in both the Server and the Web Development “area” Macromedia can focus on marketing it as they do StudioMX (which it seems they do with a bit of success).
Part of me also wonders about the timing of this announcement with regards to the merger. In many ways the most valuable part of Macromedia (from Adobe’s standpoint) are the web development tools. Adobe on the other hand, has the enterprise-level experience that Macromedia is only starting to gain. By moving Flex from being a server product exclusively to a web development tool, I think it may allow Macromedia to guide the direction of Flex more after the merger. This may be totally off base come post-merger, but I think it?s worth thinking about.Tweet