Enterprise Initiatives

This blog focuses on Enterprise IT topics such as Enterprise Architecture, Portfolio Management, Change Management, Business Process Management, and recaps various technology events and news.


I wrote a post called Adobe Flex beats Silverlight every time in September of 2007. My key point was that Flex runs on Flash which is installed on over 99% of all PCs and laptops in the world. On top of that, Flex has released Air which allows you to deploy your application on the desktop independent of the operating system. This enables you to interact with data both online and offline and can sync up when the user connects back online. Salesforce.com is all over this already.

Today I read O'Reilly's post called What's Keeping Adobe Up at Night? Probably not Silverlight. Looking at the chart below you can see that Silverlight has gained no market share on Flex. I do not believe that this has much to do with the features of Silverlight, but more with the fact that the Silverlight plugin is on very few PCs and laptops across the world and is not getting adopted at a rapid pace.


Both Silverlight and Flex allow you to build breathtaking RIAs (Rich Internet Applications). Major vendors are leveraging Flex because of their requirements to provide a zero footprint application that runs on any browser and any operating system. Although Flash is not exactly zero footprint, the fact that it is on almost every single PC and laptop makes it acceptable for corporations to use. Look how Microstrategy, a leader in business intelligence, is leveraging Flash. If you click through these demos you will see a very rich user experience that can be fully integrated into your portal or sent as an email. SAP, Google, HP, and many other large companies are also leveraging Flex to create richer user experiences with their products. You can see many more examples of Flex in action here.

Check out Nokia, Wii, and Minicooper for some outstanding eCommerce sites that use Flex. And here's one for the guys (sorry ladies, it's about the technology, really).

RIA is changing the way consumers use the Internet. eCommerce companies who do not invest in this type of technology will fall far behind. In a few years rich interfaces like these will be expected. Adobe is in a great place to continue to dominate this market place. Microsoft has the money, the name, the power, and the product to succeed in this space, but I don't know how they will overcome Adobe's lock on having 99% of the PC market with Flash installed.

I guess we will just wait and see how this race plays out. In the mean time, I will continue to standardize on Flex in my enterprise.

Here is a presentation on Slideshare: 10 reasons to use Flex

3 comments

  1. Richard Monson-Haefel  

    A couple things that are worth considering.

    First, the the platform that is most pervasive wins in the Business-to-Consumer (B2C) market but not necessarily the enterprise. Big companies who want to use RIA in the enterprise are not interested in flash player penetration; they are interested security and performance and they are willing to pay for that. This is the market that Curl (http://www.curl.com) is focused on.

    Second: While Curl dominates the RIA Enterprise market and Adobe the B2C market, I think Microsoft Silverlight will challenge Adobe in B2C - the Microsoft Ecosystem is HUGE and Silverlight is a part of that ecosystem. In time, the B2C market will be evenly divided among the two platforms. Microsoft will probably give Curl a run for their money as well.

    Richard Monson-Haefel
    Curl, Inc.

  2. Mike Kavis  

    @Richard,

    Good points. In my case, we are rolling B2B portal applications to many retailers. We have no control over their desktop therefore Adobe wins because of the Flash penetration. I can see your points on the enterprise scenario where the enterprise does control the desktop. I am not sure though that I see Silverlight gaining any ground in the B2B scenario that I described.

    Thanks for the input and the link to Curl.

  3. reeses01  

    good job daddy! You rock

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