Wow, glad to have that behind us, now back to work changing the way people work, for the better!
Thanks for all the attention, but you people should stop surfing the web over breakfast coffee and before and after lunch, and spread your tire-kicking out a little! Just kidding, that’s life on the web and we were mostly ready for it, but it is pretty tense watching the sun rise over the world on a launch day like Monday.
I’ll come back to more details on the “mostly” stuff and lessons learned sometime soon, but I wanted to give a quick update on how things are going, and clarify some stray memes about Acrobat.com that are flying around on the series of tubes serving the web.
First off, things are going well, thanks. We made some improvements to the service over the past couple days that resolved a handful of important bugs and performance issues surfaced by y’all. On behalf of the Acrobat.com team, I apologize for the slow experiences that some people had, especially on Monday. We thought we were fully prepared but no plan survives first contact with reality [sic], and neither did ours.
I am happy to report were able to respond quickly (a great thing about software as a service) and systems are green across the board as London goes to lunch and the sun rises over New York. Please keep the feedback coming, your ideas are very helpful and we are actively working on further improvements to all aspects of the service.
Overall the commentary about Acrobat.com out in the world has been very positive, and we will continue to work hard to exceed your expectations. There are a few bits of commentary out there that I wanted to clarify, and while the commentators didn’t ask us directly, I will respond in the form of a Q and A.
Q: Why isn’t Acrobat.com done yet?
A: No adventure ever started without the first step, and we expect to be at this for a long time yet. We are actively working on ‘completing the suite,’ adding features required by workgroups and businesses, bridging the online/offline gap, and improving features and integration between the services we launched on Monday. We know it is not done, but we are working on it.
Q: Don’t you guys realize that you are late to the party?
A: We don’t believe the party has really started in earnest just yet, nor do we believe that the online collaboration and productivity suites out there before us represent an adequate answer to the world’s online document collaboration needs. Believe it or not, the vast majority of working people don’t know what any of this is about; if you are reading this blog you are almost certainly living in the future. And those that do use online services like this mostly don’t use them for collaboration; they use them so they can get at their stuff from anywhere, not that there is anything wrong with that.
Because all the people working together on a document have to agree to use collaboration products, collaboration is a relatively slow burn. But because it helps groups of people be more efficient, payoff in increased productivity is large, and so is the business opportunity for Adobe and others. In other words, it is worth doing.
So I guess you could say we are late to this party just like fixed wing aircraft were late to the flying machine party. OK, maybe you wouldn’t say that, but I just did.
Q: Don’t you guys realize that people will never change the way they work?
A: So what is it, are we late or are we infinitely early? We do not agree, and obviously there are hundreds of contrarian examples where new technologies and ways of thinking about work itself have completely changed. My previous post talked about our vision and why we are doing this, but the simplest answer to this question: people will change because they will be able to get better work done faster, and enjoy doing it. Of course, that assumes they know about what we are up to…
Q: The products are great, but don’t you realize great products don’t win?
A: The Betamax story is always looming over any business aspiring to build great products. But perhaps in a world of free services, that isn’t as true as it once was, or at least not as applicable. And as the Blu-ray + PS3 story shows, not only can companies learn from past experiences, but the combination of great products and great distribution is pretty powerful. Adobe has plenty of past experiences to learn from, and we know something about both great technology and ubiquitous distribution. So we think it is about great products and great distribution, plus passion for and experience with the problem being solved. Plus luck.
Q: Why is Flash evil?
A: I don’t know. I love Flash, always have. In the end I love solutions more than technologies or abstract arguments about them, and it is solving our software development problems and our customer’s daily work problems. A quick illustrative example – late last year we did a phone interview with Vauhini Vara at the Wall Street Journal about the Buzzword acquisition. We asked her to join a web conference, something that most reporters hate because everyone uses a different solution and they all require downloads of some sort. But she kindly acquiesced, and a couple seconds after I told her the meeting room URL and assured her it didn’t matter what browser she was using she said brightly, “Oh wow, that was easy!” which was quickly followed by a decidedly more solemn “I bet you love it when reporters say that.” Yep. I love Flash.