[Please see important updates at end of article. I am keeping the original text in place so I am not accused of revising history.]
Wednesday I wrote about Adobe’s decision to pull Flash out of mobile browsers. But at that time I did not have this significant statement, reported by Jim Finkle in a Reuters article following Adobe’s annual Analyst Day: “The company said the revenue shortfall is partly because it plans to scale back promotion of its LiveCycle business process management software and Connect web conferencing businesses. It will stop marketing those products to most customers, though it will continue to support them.”
That’s a pity. Adobe Connect has been a good and innovative product for web conferencing and webinars. That marks two major companies this year who have bought prominent webinar products, shoehorned them into larger software families, and then pulled them from public licensing and standalone usage.
With Adobe it was the purchase of Macromedia Breeze, renaming it to “Acrobat Connect” and attempting to make it a part of the Acrobat product family. This mirrors Microsoft’s purchase of Placeware, renaming it to “Microsoft Office Live Meeting” and attempting to make it a part of the Office product family.
Neither approach really made sense, both went through subsequent name changes and product positioning attempts, and now it looks like both will be swept under the rug of “failed acquisitions.”
So far Cisco seems to have escaped the curse with its purchase of WebEx. But if I see them rename it to take on a prefix of a separate, unrelated Cisco product family I’ll know the writing is on the wall!
UPDATE NOV 15: Director of Adobe Connect, Guillaume Privat, wrote a post on the Adobe Connect Blog saying that Connect Mobile will continue to thrive through native apps. He also wrote the following sentence:
"First, while Adobe is realigning its resources around two key growth opportunities, the Adobe Connect business will continue to further product innovation for customers in key verticals."
I have to admit that I have no idea how to interpret that statement. I'll try to contact him to get clarification.
UPDATE NOV 16: I just spoke with Guillaume. I am now completely satisfied that Jim Finkle's statement was either a misinterpretation of Adobe's announcement or got confusingly edited and shortened somewhere in the publishing cycle. Guillaume told me what I already know... That while Adobe has historically had licensing information and "buy it now" buttons for Adobe Connect on their website, they have heavily favored sales and first-level support through resellers and channel partners. I have experienced this over the years for myself and my clients. It is almost impossible to get proper sales support for Connect directly through Adobe unless you are a massive enterprise account. Adobe merely formalized that go-to-market strategy. They are only going to market and actively sell the product through their direct sales force to big financial and government entities. Everyone else should go through resellers and channel partners. That seems like a prudent cost-savings approach to me. In the meantime, the product support and development teams continue to work on Connect and there is no sunsetting strategy in place. So I apologize for my role in helping to spread the confusion.