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Apple Safari, Adobe Apollo in web app tie-in

The politics of the web is a many splendid thing. Political machinations within the technology industry have always fascinated me. The speed at which trends are adopted, talked up and either overtaken, upgraded or killed off is at times breathtaking.

Right now for Apple and Adobe, the trend is an upwards one, if no less circuitous for being so.

First off, there’s a mid-week early morning discovery by yours truly that Apple have joined the HTML Working Group, and then latterly me finding that Adobe are to use Apple’s WebKit as the basis for the rendering engine of Apollo.

It’s not often that I find myself surprised enough to have to be reflective and set time aside to think something over. I’m usually only a step behind these guys, so maybe it’s an age thing?

Hope not!

Anyway, having pondered this incestuous situation for a few of days, it appears to me that Apple and Adobe are up to something.

That something required a little detective work and the usual collection of disparate conclusions and the jumping upon thereof.

For instance, “According to a statement posted on Adobe’s Web site, the company ‘does not plan to issue updates to current versions of those products for Windows Vista compatibility.'”

Any other time, this might sound like a solid piece of business planning on Adobe’s part. But this is Microsoft’s flag ship software we’re talking about, and while Adobe might be able to play some delaying tactic, Microsoft can’t afford a major ISV to be holding out for too long, especially when Adobe getting their software to work fully with Windows Vista would provide a huge incentive to Microsoft’s customers to update sooner rather than later.

You could argue that Adobe’s new development cycle is the root cause of this delay, and I’d agree that there’s an element of that, but how much? Or is this all a figment of my elaborately and – but I’m sure you’d agree – exquisitely overly-paranoid imagination?

“The bottom line is that Adobe customers who are satisfied with the current versions of their software will have little choice but to pay for upgrades if they buy a new PC this year.”

Which sounds very familiar, given my own experiences with Adobe and their inflexible upgrade paths.

Why WebKit?

But why would Adobe go and choose Apple’s WebKit over, say, Mozilla’s Gecko?

I think this all boils down to Apple being the more developed with regards to discrete, individual web applications, such as their Dashboard Widgets.

While in the short term, you could argue that Apple’s Dashboard is a competitor to Adobe’s Apollo platform, but in reality, I’m seeing Dashboard in a slightly different light. Maybe then, Dashboard is to become an extension of the Apollo platform, simply by virtue of doing to same sort of thing?

Let’s be straight about this, Dashboard Widgets are essentially the same as Apollo applications, albeit tethered to Apple’s strange in-a-window-but-not approach to web widgets.

“Apple has joined this working group,… Apple is also stepping up our participation in other W3C working groups and other standards bodies related to web technology.”

Which also got me thinking. Didn’t the W3C recently launch the Widgets 1.0 specification? How might that tie in with Apple joining the HTML Working Group, and what do Apple mean when they say they’re stepping up their “participation in other W3C working groups”? Is that a veiled reference to them wishing to offer some stewardship of the Widgets specification?

And to take things a step further, how does Google fit into the this? Given that they’re also quite involved in the whole web widgets thing and having a G-man aboard the good ship Apple?

Right now, there’s clearly more questions than answers. But it’s definitely going to be an interesting read once the news breaks…

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By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.