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The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

December - 2007 - issue > Market Positioning

Customer Engagement, the secret behind Adobe’s success

Pradeep Shankar
Friday, November 30, 2007
Pradeep Shankar
The constantly churning cauldron of IT business worldwide is witnessing every passing day newer developments and has been throwing up unkind challenges at those who are at the forefront of the ever expanding technology frontiers. The software products company Adobe Systems is celebrating its 25th anniversary this month and is on the verge of crossing $3 billion in revenues. The company’s ambition is to be at the forefront on providing tools for building the next generation of rich internet applications and there is a flurry of activity aimed at realizing this. The responsibility of helping the company achieve its next phase of growth falls on the new CEO and President Shantanu Narayen who, till recently, was Adobe’s President and Chief Operating Officer. Narayen, the younger of two brothers, grew up in Hyderabad and moved to the U.S. in 1984 to pursue a Master’s degree in computer science at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, where he met his future wife. After graduation, Narayen and his wife moved to Silicon Valley where he landed a position at Apple. Studying at nights while working at Apple, Narayen earned an MBA from the Haas School of Business, UC, Berkeley, in 1993. After Apple, Narayen had a stint at Silicon Graphics before founding Pictra, an early entrant into the field of online digital photo sharing. Narayen joined Adobe Systems in 1998 and was appointed President and Chief Operating Officer in January, 2005.

On an India visit few weeks back, Narayen spoke to Pradeep Shankar on the company’s global growth strategy.

Do you worry about Microsoft at all? What if they gobble you up into their fold?
As long as heterogeneity exists in the marketplace we need not worry about Microsoft. However, if you are in the software space and somebody says they don’t worry about Microsoft, they are trying to find solace in denial. Microsoft is a monopolist and they can use their power in different ways. We have competed with them in the past in many areas such as fonts and imaging. We have proven that we can deliver great products. Microsoft is a $54 billion company (in revenues) with tremendous reach, staying power, and a very deep pocket. I do worry about their capability to utilize their reach to give away software. Keeping this paranoia apart, we have to focus on our customers, and as long as we can understand our customers’ needs and continue to innovate, I am confident that we can do well in the marketplace. There is a tremendous opportunity available to us in the marketplace and we think pursing it on our own is the right strategy for Adobe at this point.

How is Adobe Flash’s competition with Microsoft’s Silverlight panning out?
First question we need to ask is: ‘What is Silverlight’s penetration right now versus the penetration of Flash?’ The last time I checked on MSN.com, I saw them using Flash videos. There is no need for a better proof for our having achieved ubiquity. It may be pointed out that Apple continues to do well and there is no need whatever to forget the Mac users. Heterogeneity in the marketplace has only grown in importance in this age of globalization. Creative developers across the world who create those interesting rich internet applications love Adobe products and have been loyal Adobe customers. We are celebrating 25 years this year. It is a big milestone for us. There is a lot going for us in terms of installed base. The kind of market we have is the result of years of hard work and cannot be captured overnight by any one. However, we also have to be vigilant.

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