Robert’s insight into Adobe’s next OS was probably right, perhaps he just didn’t take it far enough
A ‘lens’ through which all other software can be ‘viewed’ is ‘something which belongs inside the operating system’. Unless of course, you make the lens, but you don’t make the operating system. Adobe makes Flash, which is enough of an operating system for Apple to banish it from one of their operating systems.
Unlike everyone else, if you do make an operating system, you aren’t just looking for a killer app. You’re looking for a ‘killer uber-feature’, something that makes everybody’s apps work better in your operating system than anyone else’s.
With advent of the browser, we all quickly got used to the idea of ‘an operating system within an operating system’, despite this being a mind-bending concept. With the widespread adoption of Flash, we didn’t even need to be aware that we had somehow managed to get used to an operating system within an operating system within an operating system.
What nobody has bothered to do, is to make these OS layers work together seamlessly, simply because until now, our idea of seamlessness in this context was ‘they just work together’. The user would either know nothing about which ‘OS within an OS’ they were in (nobody cares whether or not Flash is being used, unless it doesn’t run on their kit) or they would just get used to the differences (e.g., doing things differently in the browser to the way you do them on the desktop or in a desktop app).
The irony of this ignorance or apathy is that the way we work isn’t really seamless at all. When I want to share my response to a web page, I need to be able to scribble comments onto it, draw circles around the graphics. I also want to be able to do this to a Word document or an Excel spreadsheet, or an Outlook email. I want to be able to have my ‘annotations’ made available to anyone ‘following me’ as in FaceBook and I want to be able to see the annotations of anyone that I’m following in real time. Now that’s real seamlessness.
If I’m using this ‘combined annotation and social integration layer’ where everything is inside the browser (e.g., I’m using Google Docs and Gmail) I only need to be ‘two OS layers deep’. If I want to be able to do it with Office, I’m going to need to be running my ‘lens’ at the desktop level too.
We’ve been asking whether FaceBook is the OS of tomorrow, but what if ‘social’ doesn’t turn out to be social enough without ‘deep annotation’, once enough people have tried it and found that they can’t live without it? What if Facebook’s ‘Real Identity’ imperative undermines the ability of any competing annotation layer that they develop to provide the ‘missing seamlessness’ across desktop, Office, mobile and browser that potentially ‘identity-agnostic’ Adobe’s (investee Scrybe‘s) Convofy offers?