August 24, 2005

The Killing’s Gotta Stop

Has anyone else had enough of these “Microsoft Acrylic is the [Photoshop/Flash/Illustrator/FreeHand/Fireworks/etc.] Killer!” articles? Is the technology press so bored that they have to invent conflicts?

If I were Microsoft, I’d be deflecting these assertions like crazy. Why? Because they set unrealistic, misleading expectations that end up reflecting poorly on new products.

Background: When InDesign 1.0 was in development, it got dubbed by some Adobe’s “Quark Killer.” (This was before my time here, so I don’t know the origin of the phrase, but I do know that I’ve never heard anyone here use it.) When the 1.0 product shipped and didn’t “kill” an app that had been established for more than a decade, it was assumed to be a failure. Well, 5+ years later, InDesign is doing just fine, thanks.

It’s also false to assume that new apps need or want to kill others. I was a Flash developer in the late ’90s, so when Adobe offered me the chance to work on LiveMotion, I jumped at the chance. Did I want to “kill” Flash? Of course not! I enjoyed working with the format enough that I wanted to make the ecosystem of authoring tools bigger and better. But hey, sure enough, LiveMotion got dubbed the “Flash Killer,” setting up conflict and disappointment. (And now, that unfortunate moniker has now passed to another unreleased product.)

So, back to the subject at hand. I think Macromedia’s John Dowdell said it well: of course Microsoft will create tools to target its next-gen OS; it’s not a zero-sum game; and different strokes serve different folks.

As Max Fischer would say, “The killin’s gotta stop, ese.”

Posted by John Nack at 9:41 AM on August 24, 2005

Comments

  • MZ — 1:52 PM on August 24, 2005

    I couldn’t agree more. Not that I would trade any Adobe products for Microsoft tools :) but I think that putting out headlines like these is just distracting users from the values that the new software might have.
    There is always room on the market for new tools, it depends on the marketing strategy and naturally the features and usability of the software how much market share it will eventually take.
    Sometimes I get the feeling that mainstream Internet news outlets are becoming just like celebrity “magazines”, firing out one overhyped title after the other.

  • Mike Brunt — 7:09 PM on August 24, 2005

    Yes of course the media channels whatever/whoever they may be have to sell content and associated items to survive. So sensational headlines often ensue. For instance, ColdFusion has been “dying” for years for various reasons or non-reasons. And as the famous witticism goes “The stories of my death have been greatly exaggerated!”.
    This is a very good blog post by the way.

  • _dd — 10:18 AM on August 25, 2005

    Sometimes I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion.

  • John Nack — 10:38 AM on August 25, 2005

    Hah–I love it!
    And I love the fact that someone has actually made Sparkle Motion t-shirts. God bless the Interweb.
    http://www.drafthouse.shoppingcartsplus.com/catalog/item/1457092/915403.htm

  • Don Demsak — 9:48 AM on August 27, 2005

    I guess you missed my post “Microsoft Codename Acrylic Does Not Do It For Me”. I’m a .Net developer who also does a lot of SVG work (and even helped a bit with Illustrator), so I have a history with both MSFT’s Avalon/WPF and Adobe products, and I really don’t like Acrylic.

  • Don Demsak — 12:34 PM on August 27, 2005

    Seems like your blogging software doesn’t use the URL you can put in with a comment, so I’ll just add my link here: http://donxml.com/allthingstechie/archive/2005/08/22/2149.aspx

  • John Nack — 4:42 PM on August 29, 2005

    Nice; thanks for the links. I’m pleased to hear that Robert agrees. I haven’t heard anyone at Microsoft say boo about Acrylic killing or even directly challenging any other app. But, hey, everybody likes a cage match…

  • Mordy Golding — 12:12 AM on August 30, 2005

    (wow, I know people in this thread)…
    I think the greatest example of all is Apple. I mean, after all, Apple has been “dead” for almost a decade now, no?
    When I was the product manager for Illustrator, I remember getting upset about how the press would put FreeHand and Illustrator head to head as these two big rivals battling for dominance in the industry. Ha! Until MACR tossed FH into a bundle with Flash, Illustrator more than quadrupled FH’s market share. Even after the bundling, research showed that those copies of FH sat on a shelf, unopened. Yet, the press was convinced that a war was raging between the two apps.
    The bottom line is, the press just isn’t exciting without the sensationalism. Would you pick up a copy of Macworld if it didn’t feature a cover story on how next year’s vaporware will make this year’s market leader obsolete? And at the end of the day, it’s all a business. It’s a vicious cycle. In order for a product to succeed, it has to sell copies. In order to see copies, it has to get good reviews and good press coverage. So you learn to embrace it with an “ass-out hug” (a wedding crashers term).
    So like with everything else in life, you go with your heart. You know what a product really is and more importantly, you know what a product really isn’t. And you play it smart and you use the right tools for the job at hand.
    This blog’s official theme song is either Killing Me Softly, or Killing in the Name Of — you decide.
    :) Mordy

  • Jim Jefferson — 5:08 PM on August 30, 2005

    …and “competition” among like-poducts has always been good for the consumer.
    1. Adobe sees ways to make money by improving on Quark Xpress.
    2. Adobe releases InDesign.
    3. Quark feels the heat of InDesign (and shrinking sales), releases new and improved versions of Xpress.
    … and on it goes. The consumer doesn’t care who kills who. I just want software that works.

  • Dan Oblak — 11:07 PM on September 15, 2005

    When we called InDesign the ‘Quark-killer’, it was just some good-natured wishful thinking. When we refer to NVU.com as the ‘FrontPage killer’ it is not because we really think that a free version of an application with essentially the same feature set as a Microsoft application has an ice cube’s chance in hell of knocking mediocre software off the map. But when the press refers to anything that Microsoft does as a threat to other vendors’ existing software, it is with at least a cursory understanding that when people are satisfied with a Microsoft-labeled product, they are less likely to investigate whether they even shopped for the right feature set in the first place (have you used PhotoDraw?). Myself, I anxiously await Adobe’s ‘Office Killer’, which I’ve given props to several times in my blog — and even if it never comes to reality, I sleep better at night just dreaming about it. :-)

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