For Macromedia, the Future Belongs to Non-PCs

Knowledge@Wharton spoke to Macromedia CEO Robert Burgess:

Burgess: Now we see a huge new trend happening in which we’re very involved – which is making products for “non-PCs.” A lot of people are calling that the “mobile” market – including us – but it’s so much more than mobile. It involves TV sets and DVDs and game machines and educational toys – as well as phones and PDAs.

We just had NTT DoCoMo in here this morning. The Japanese mobile telecom company is one of our biggest customers. Some 13% of Japan’s population today has a Flash-based phone, and we got going with them just a year and a half ago. DoCoMo ships almost a million phones a month – all of their two-and-a-half G and 3G phones.

The content ecosystem that is developing in Japan around Flash is absolutely phenomenal. There are several thousand web sites now supplying Flash content, and it’s simply because, as human beings, we’re multi-sensory creatures. To the extent you get more senses into the game, people like [it] more – cognition happens more quickly. So now, on the trains, it used to be that people would be banging away on e-mail. Now they’re banging away on games. It’s phenomenal.

Japan is the earliest business opportunity for mobile. The phones are more powerful there, and the networks are more powerful. DoCoMo was the first major mobile operator to make Flash part of its strategy. They had Java in their phones, and then they decided to differentiate with Flash.

Knowledge@Wharton: If the CD-ROM drove the first wave of your growth, and the Internet drove the second wave, what is going to drive the third wave of your growth?

Burgess: Non-PCs – and it’s the biggest of them all. It is all of these devices. Pick up any magazine today – filled with all the gadgets and TVs and DVDs. I expect that we will have relationships with consumer electronic companies where they will be buying copies of Flash in the hundreds of millions. I expect Flash to be bundled into devices of all different sorts. It’s already starting. The value proposition is so clear – great experience, low bandwidth, millions of developers that can target that platform. And all from a company that is non-competitive with them.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.