Knowledge@Wharton today published an interview I did with Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch. Lynch talks in depth about the origins of Adobe’s AIR platform and its potential impact on software developers, consumers, and business users.
Lynch also addresses some of the issues raised by Microsoft corporate vice president Scott Guthrie in a previous interview in which Guthrie stated that he didn’t see a “big opportunity” for the type of software AIR enables and Guthrie’s view that there’s a sharp division between “what you do inside a browser and what you do inside a dedicated Windows or Mac application shell.”
Lynch also makes it clear that AIR’s eventual goal is not only to provide a cross-platform runtime environment for desktop PCs and laptops, but mobile platforms as well:
Lynch: AIR is not only going to be on desktop PCs and laptops, but also on a range of devices. We are embarking on this with a number of partners. We don’t have a lot of announcements to make because it’s still early. But we are attempting to bring AIR to [multiple] devices so you will be able to use an application, for example, on a mobile phone and use that very same application on your PC.
This has long been a goal of many technologies. There are a lot of challenges in making it work, but those are the same challenges we faced in making our other technologies work across disparate environments. That is going to be a huge boon for people developing [software] across all these different computing environments.
That’s a big focus for AIR that’s going to change things a lot.
In addition, Lynch discusses his view that cloud computing will ultimately be a combination of cloud-based services and local desktop integration:
Lynch: The cloud computing model is central to building web software. But there needs to be a balance between local client computing and cloud computing. The best applications will have an architecture that leverages both — they’re not totally in the cloud and not totally on the client. [. . .]
One could say, “Hey, it’s all going to be cloud computing,” but that is ignoring all the processing power that we have in front of us on our computers. Or you can say, “Hey, it’s really still about the desktop,” but that’s ignoring the revolution of the Internet and all of these services available in the cloud. You want a solution that helps you balance across both.
Microsoft would, no doubt, agree. Their “software plus services” approach similarly advocates a hybrid cloud/desktop environment. While Microsoft’s architecture is based on traditional OS-based applications, AIR introduces a cross-OS abstraction layer for application development. Adobe and Microsoft share a similar vision of the future, but are presenting different implementation paths to get there. It will be interesting to see which architecture best defines the next generation of connected software applications.
For the full interview, see: “Kevin Lynch on Adobe’s AIR: Extending the Web beyond the Browser.”