Adobe has just unveiled the official name of its much talked about Adobe Apollo product: Adobe Integrated Runtime, or Adobe AIR for short. Adobe is also announcing a beta version of the runtime, which will include Ajax and HTML support. This means developers can create an Apollo application entirely based on HTML, without using Flash at all.
For those who may not know, Adobe Apollo was the code name for the cross-operating runtime developed by Adobe that allows developers to create Rich Internet Applications for the desktop. There's a myriad of possible use cases for this technology, from productivity applications that work both online and offline, to music players such as Finetune that can be accessed via the desktop.
Adobe AIR is expected to be released at the end of the year, and will include a beta version of this runtime along with Ajax and HTML support. Previously, you could only build an Apollo application using Flash, but Adobe is now making it more appealing to a wider range of HTML developers - who may not use Adobe Flash. So included in this announcement is an extension that allows Apollo apps to be created directly from Dreamweaver, and PDF support to leverage the PDF platform in Apollo applications. The release also includes a SQLite database, just like Google Gears, so developers can go between the two easily.
Adobe is attempting to streamline the process of building Apollo applications, in the hope it increases adoption rates. The challenge in introducing a web development platform is making it simple enough for developers to test drive, yet valuable enough for the end user. Adobe competitor Dekoh (see our profile here), is using an open-source model and community to increase adoption. In many ways, the Adobe strategy is similar to that of Facebook, which recently opened up the Facebook platform. Most web teams can easily develop a Facebook app in a weekend, as it is simple for the development team to create apps for that platform. In turn, the Facebook team hopes that it's valuable enough to the end user, which then encourages more application building and innovation from developers at other websites.
Although not exactly identical situations, Adobe is making it easier for all the developers out there to play around with the platform - and opening it up to HTML developers seems like a smart move. Backed by a $100 million venture fund and tons of corporate investment, Adobe needs to also do a better job of showcasing successful implementations of Apollo; and convince end users why they need to have online and offline support. That is probably the major goal behind the Adobe Bus Tour, also announced today, in which Adobe is traveling to 18 cities to perform demos and spread the word on the platform.
Despite the bus tour, my mother and father (average Internet users) need to be convinced that there are many instances in their lives where they need a desktop application of some of their favorite Internet sites/applications. It's still early in the process but, coupled with the open sourced Flex 3, Adobe is taking a very active approach to being more nimble and inclusive about engaging early adopters.