Adobe®, the company that we all love to loathe, had two epic failures in public relations this weekend involving the online community. First, someone detailed their terrible experience with Adobe Reader® 9 and second, Adobe® litigated an open-source community to death for the use of the word, “air,” in their domain name. Is it me, or is Adobe® just not getting it?
As noted by Techmeme, Adobe failed twice in one day:
EPIC FAILURE, #1
ADOBE READER® 9 RESULTS IN POOR PERFORMANCE AND CONSUMES A LARGE AMOUNT OF HARD DRIVE SPACE. Allegedly, Adobe Reader® 9 was redeveloped from the ground up, boasting new features and better performance.
Ben Hoyts wasn’t nearly as impressed as Adobe® hoped he’d be. He shares his detailed experience when he downloaded and installed Adobe Reader® 9. He starts off his description with his excitement to be offered to download the 18.6MB eBay® Desktop software along side the 33.5MB Adobe Reader® 9 installer. He continues explaining his account of all the the various system changes and the space it consumed — a mere 210MB of hard drive space. And Hoyts tops it off with the observation that Adobe forced him to restart his computer and placed an Acrobat.com shortcut on his Start menu.
Why does Adobe® behave like Badware? It seems that Adobe® is more eager than ever to make users use their software, often bundled with third-party software (novices likely won’t opt-out of the eBay installation). This is why I nominate Adobe Reader® 9 as “Badware.” If you have a horror story or have some legitimate proof resulting in less than reasonable installation practices from Adobe®, then I suggest that you share it with the StopBadware organization for their investigation.
By contrast, in mid 2006, AOL software was labeled as Badware (with due cause) by the StopBadware organization. With proper notification, AOL corrected their seemingly questionable software installation practices and was removed from the “list.” Currently, AOL discloses in simple terms the software and addons that may be installed, and empowers users to easily opt-out of unwanted software at the time of installation.
EPIC FAILURE, #2
ADOBE® EXERCISES LEGAL THREAT TO ‘FRESHAIRAPPS.COM,’ CLAIMING TRADEMARK INFRINGEMENT FOR THE USE OF ‘AIR’ IN DOMAIN NAME. FreshAIRApps.com is an an independent developer community that provides support and evangelization of the Adobe AIR® platform with user-created applications.
In a statement posted on FreshAIRApps.com, they state they are in compliance with Adobe® trademark guidelines, but concludes that Adobe has subjective interpretations in their agreement:
I have recently been informed that Adobe systems believe that this website and it’s domain name are in infringement of their trademarks. This is because I am using the word AIR in the domain name freshAIRapps.com.
Adobe seem[s] to think that they own the trademark of AIR and that I can’t use it and should hand the domain over to them and stop the website. After reading through the list of Adobe trademarks (which can be found here) they only reference Adobe AIR and not AIR. However the following paragraph I believe is open to abuse by Adobe:
“Adobe® AIR™” is a trademark of Adobe that may not be used by others except under a written license from Adobe. You may not incorporate the Adobe AIR trademark, or any other Adobe trademark, in whole or in part, in the title of your Developer Application or in your company name, domain name or the name of a service related to Adobe AIR.
Now that Adobe successfully let down their most powerful of users — eager software developers — the site will rebrand themselves as “Refreshing Apps” soon to be available at http://refreshingapps.com/. Good job Adobe®, that’s a great way to support your developers who support your platform.
Personally, I’d like to ask Adobe® to reconsider their strategy and direction that they are headed. I am willing to bet that 99% of end-users don’t care about embedding a Flash animation into a PDF, or a zillion other documents into a PDF. Look in your rear-view mirror and look at Foxit Software and observe how fast their software performs. If I was the product manager, I would immediately make it a goal for 9.1 to really squeeze down the resources that Adobe Reader needs and disclose it properly during installation. Perhaps a “modular” type of installation where you empower the end-user to choose what formats they want, what addons they wish to install and the startup behavior.
I also feel that Adobe® needs the online communities’ support; however, not the other way around. People are more than happy to learn and code for Microsoft with their Silverlight offering. One thing that Adobe® must accept is that online communities evolve (such as segmentation and independence) and they must respect and work synergistically with their developers if they want their platform to reign king.
Adobe® has yet to publically acknowlege or respond to the consumer experiences mentioned above.
What do you think — is Adobe® in the right?