And Adobe does it again – pulling Touch Apps without telling their community

by kai on 12/01/2013

Maybe I should rather say “community” as sometimes it seems to me that there’s not a great deal left of the Adobe’s involvement with their community.

The story in short, PR-blurb is that they are “refocusing … Touch App development“. In case you don’t speak PR-blurb, this means that Adobe Debut, Adobe Collage, Adobe Proto and the Android versions of Adobe Ideas and Adobe Kuler are dead. The definition of dead in this context is that they won’t be updated anymore (and I think, even though I haven’t checked that, you can’t download them anymore from the respective stores).

I’ve got multiple issues with this:

  1. In typical Adobe-style they’ve silently announced the fact on the Creative Cloud blog on December 20, right before the Xmas break. They haven’t even bothered talking to their community of AUG managers, ACPs and whatever beforehand. I heard of it through Pariah’s blog (who himself found it more or less randomly)
  2. If you make the effort to read Kirsten Rourke’s very well written blog post on this topic, you’ll find out that there were a bunch of people working on training and tutorial content on the Touch Apps. Folks like Sally Cox and Chana Messer are long-standing members of the Adobe ecosystem, doing work in the name of Adobe, having probably signed a bunch of NDAs etc – did anyone from Adobe bother to tell them?
  3. Interestingly enough the December 2012 edition of Adobe’s Inspire online magazine (the one they had to rename from Edge because of the Edge products) has a big feature article about Adobe Proto. One wonders if people at Adobe talk to each other at all. Certainly the decision to cancel those Touch Apps wasn’t made during the night of Dec 19 to Dec 20?
  4. The Touch Apps were released just 8-9 months ago. Really – Adobe? After this short amount of time you decide on the success or failure of a technology? Maybe you should give people some time to adopt technologies into their workflows? CS6 is just out for a few months – ever considered that people don’t instantly upgrade? Or that people are just now getting more and more into the tablet market?

There might be good reasons for Adobe to discontinue the Touch Apps above and sometimes one has to make business decisions that are unpleasant for other people. That’s fair enough and I do understand that. What I object to is the way Adobe is doing this and the way they’re communicating change to the people who are their best unpaid “evangelists” and supporters: they don’t. It tells a lot about a company how it deals with its community and customers and Adobe has massively turned to the worse over the last 2-3 years.

In an update to the original blog post, they even dared to put in the text: “We apologize for any inconvenience and frustration caused by this decision.”. I haven’t seen a more meaningless “apology” for quite a while; it’s usually the type of stuff a totally uninterested gate agent of a shoddy US airline would tell people over the loudspeaker when their flight is delayed for 9 hours.

This is a small-scale repetition of the Adobe Flex debacle of 2011. Nothing else. They’ve made so many promises to improve their communication in the aftermath of it and they just did it again. It seems that nowadays every November/December Adobe either drops products in the most stupid imaginable way or fires large amounts of employees. In some years they might do both.

Pariah updated his blog a few days ago saying:

“Update: 2013-01-07: I just got off a call with some peo­ple at Adobe, includ­ing Jill Soley, the author of the orig­i­nal Touch Apps EOL blog post. There’s noth­ing con­crete to report yet, but a lot of peo­ple within Adobe are doing quite a lot of talk­ing and brain­storm­ing toward fig­ur­ing out ways to avoid sna­fus like this in the future.”.

I’d love to believe it, but for me it has come to a stage where I have developed a serious lack of trust towards Adobe as a company. It’s a shame though, as a few years ago I was one of their biggest supporters and defenders. But how can one nowadays trust Adobe to still support technology X, Y or Z in 6 months or a year’s time from now on? Your mileage might vary, but I seriously struggle to.

Andrew Scott January 12, 2013 at 8:26 pm

I think this is what happens when we live on the edge of development, but it is very sad to see that this product never got the following Adobe had hoped.

I doubt this will be the last we see something like this, not just from Adobe, but other Companies as well.

Michael Zock January 12, 2013 at 8:38 pm

And that’s why we’re moving our CFML-based products from ACF to Railo.
At this point you apparently can’t trust Adobe enough anymore to expect that a product will still be supported after the next weekend.

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