Adobe has a massive, multi-billion dollar software business, roughly $0.00 of which has traditionally depended on open source. The company is on a tear, blowing out its last few quarters.
And yet, and yet, the company apparently sees a future in open source. Just ask Kevin Lynch, Adobe's chief technology officer, who suggested that Adobe will be doing more and more with open source:
We're really working to increase our usage of open-source technologies and to contribute to open-source. Because we developed AIR so openly, we were able to share it with developers and make sure we were developing the right things.
So it's not just to be cool. There's a compelling reason for Adobe to adopt more open source. And it has: SQLite, Flash Player (significant chunks of it), Flex, etc. etc. Adobe has been getting closer and closer to open source. Why?
Because Adobe recognizes the power and allure of the Internet, Lynch notes:
The fullest realization of that social network is that the community around the software not only wants to comment on it, they actually want to help improve it and change it and fix it. That's what I think generates the impetus to make your software open-source and really embrace that network of people around your software who want to help make it better....
The other effect is hosted services. Software is moving from being packaged, where you develop for a particular operating system and put it in a box, to being developed and distributed over the internet and being designed to run across operating systems. That's where all the innovation has moved to. Software isn't as OS-specific anymore, it's moving to rich internet applications. It's a sea change in how software in general is being built.
It makes no sense to develop software in an isolated bubble anymore. Adobe gets this. Other companies are still dragging their feet to this realization, perhaps because they haven't felt the pull of the 'Net as forcibly as Adobe and others have.
That's OK. They'll learn. Or they'll go out of business. Either way, customers win.