Adobe Debuts App Distribution Service


Adobe Systems is rolling out a new set of services allowing advertisers and publishers to distribute Flash-based applications across social networks, mobile devices and the desktop more easily.

The new offering unveiled at the Interactive Advertising Bureau's Mixx Conference and Expo Monday, comes on the heels of Adobe last week announcing its agreement to acquire analytics giant Omniture for $1.8 billion.

Adobe Flash Platform Services for Distribution promises to help make the creation and sharing of Web applications across diverse platforms a more seamless process for developers of all kinds. The online suite of services also includes tools to help users to promote, monetize and track app campaigns.

"Social media has really become mainstream," said Puneet Goel, product marketing manager at Adobe, which makes Flash, Reader, Photoshop, and other creative and content tools. A lot of advertisers are increasingly using branded applications to reach out to these audiences, and that's where we could help advertisers with these new services."

The initiative builds on the popularity of Flash in powering everything from online video to rich media ads to casual video games. The company says content running in Adobe Flash Player reaches 98% of PCs with Internet access.

Launched with widget network Gigya, the new, free distribution platform lets advertisers send Flash-based and other apps across 70 popular sites and social networks including Facebook, MySpace, iGoogle, Bebo and Xanga.

On the mobile side, the service allows apps to go out on devices using the Symbian and Windows Mobile operating systems as well as the iPhone. End users will receive an SMS text message with a link to the desired app. After clicking, the user is sent a version of the app tailored to their device. Goel said Adobe is initially offering mobile distribution for free, but plans to charge for the service following the beta period.

Adobe is also offering a paid promotion option with Gigya to accelerate app distribution via cross-promotion. So someone would be given the chance to download another app in addition to the main one being advertised. Under this program, advertisers would be guaranteed a certain number of installs for a campaign and be charged at the rate of $1 per install.

Lionsgate is among the clients already working with the new distribution platform. "We can use the service to repurpose, distribute and track the content to our customers throughout the content life cycle from theatrical releases to DVD to digital distribution," said Leo Collins, executive vice president and CIO at the entertainment company.

Later this year, Adobe will also introduce a separate service that allows developers to create a single version of an app that can be automatically customized for different Web properties including Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and Yahoo. "This will insulate developers from creating multiple apps for different networks," said Goel. He added that it would also save developers from having to update apps when social networks make changes to their application programming interfaces, or APIs.

Goel said the app distribution service was in the works long before Adobe announced plans to acquire Omniture, and was unrelated to the proposed merger. But he acknowledged that Adobe can't simply be a technology maker anymore. "One of the big reasons Adobe is getting into services is that it can't just be involved on the tools side," he said. "Customers need additional capabilities, and Adobe Flash Platform Services is a step toward doing that."

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