Adobe has announced the first step in its ambitious effort to move beyond the web and into app-based digital content delivery, and the poster child for its first foray runs on a magical and revolutionary device from Adobe's derisive frenemy, Apple.
Tuesday's announcement of magazine viewer technology is but one step in Adobe's overarching Digital Publishing Platform effort, which will eventually extend to cross-platform app delivery of magazines, books, newpapers, and retail catalogs, but which for now is limited to one magazine on the iPad.
That proof-of-concept app is the five-dollar iPad version of the June issue of Wired, developed in a collaboration between that magazine and Adobe, and which became available on the iTunes App Store last weekend:
"We expect to use this technology to deliver more of our publications over the coming months," said Thomas Wallace, editorial director of Condé Nast, Wired's parent company — which seems a bit less than a thoroughgoing commitment to a continuing embrace of the digital publishing platform.
Chris Anderson, Wired's editor in chief, was more definitive, saying in an editor's letter that "Wired magazine will be digital from now on." Boss Wallace, however, might now be more decisive, considering that as of Tuesday morning, the app ranked number two among the App Store's top paid iPad apps and that the Store's brain trust has selected it as iPad App of the Week.
Adobe says that the Digital Publishing Platform will be based on a combination of its Creative Suite 5, which it launched in April of this year, and technologies from the "web analytics and online business optimization software and services" company Omniture, which it acquired for $1.8bn last October. At its creative core is Adobe's latest version of its QuarkXPress-killer, InDesign CS5.
"It's safe to say that if you are already working in InDesign CS5, you'll be well on your way to producing a beautiful digital version of your publication," said David Burkett, Adobe vice president and general manager of Creative Solutions.
The magazine viewer software has not yet been released to developers, but according to Adobe's Digital Publishing Platform roadmap (PDF), it's due this summer at Adobe Labs. Cross-platform support is scheduled to arrive this fall, along with News Reader SDK 3.0 and Reader Mobile SDK 9.2.
A Digital Publishing Platform FAQ notes that to use the platform, you'll need Adobe InDesign CS5 — which isn't exactly an impulse purchase, whether it's sold standalone at $699 or as part of the CS5 Design Premium suite at $1,899.
And, no, Apple isn't making a Flash exception by allowing the Wired app into its App Store store. The Digital Publishing Platform generates applications in Objective C, as per Apple's demands. As the FAQ notes that "Adobe will continue to develop a solution written in Objective-C according to the rules specified by the Apple Developers License Agreement," and that "Adobe is pursuing a multiplatform development strategy that will include Objective-C for the iPad and the Adobe AIR runtime for the desktop and other mobile platforms." ®