Is Gap between Hardware, Software Growing?

Adobe Systems’ Lea Hickman sees increasing complexity, competition for software developers to design standout experiences.

Lea Hickman Adobe Systems

"I see a gap between hardware and software being created today. They're disconnected because hardware advancements are not readily accessible to software developers," said Lea Hickman, vice president of Adobe's creative consumer business.

The rapid uptake of smartphones and tablets has been a boon for many software companies, but an executive at Adobe Systems says it’s getting more challenging for developers to create apps and experiences that stand out from the competition.

Today, software developers have to deal with savvier digital users and a more mature app ecosystem, according to Lea Hickman, vice president of Adobe’s creative consumer business. That requires them to focus rigorously on user experience and quality control across the whole process from app design to testing to distribution to different app stores. Moreover, developers must provide experiences that work smoothly across different device types, from PCs to tablets and mobile phones. Recently, Hickman discussed opportunities and challenges software developers face in the increasingly crowded world of mobile apps.

What’s the biggest challenge for software and application developers today?

I see a gap between hardware and software being created today. They’re disconnected because hardware advancements are not readily accessible to software developers. I would like to see software and application developers get more access to future hardware well before it’s released so they can provide consumers with really amazing experiences. This continues to be a real challenge.

The tools are everything today because there’s so much fragmentation across the ecosystem. Today, developers really have to manage the whole process from designing to polishing new applications for release. In the past they could focus on code and then just let people download their applications. Now, developers have to think about the entire process because competition is fierce. Great experiences really stand out from those that are less so.

Our challenge is to continue building great tools and applications for the mass market — applications that inspire people to be more creative and to create digital content that they can share with friends, families, loved ones and on social networks.

What about the challenges of developing applications that run on a variety of devices from desktop and laptop PCs to smartphones and tablets?

Adobe is investing a lot into HTML5 development. We’ve taken the history of expertise we have with providing complete work flows in Flash, for example, and we’re applying it to HTML5. The design tools need to have capabilities and work flow, but also smooth, functional coding and testing environments. We recently released new services that allow developers to create, publish and test. Because there are so many different devices today, it’s really, really hard for developers and designers to create compelling experiences knowing that they’ll have the level of expected high fidelity on every device.

In the past, when we were just developing applications for the desktop, it was pretty straight forward. We knew the capabilities of desktops. Today you have to take into consideration all of the capabilities that every device has, including cameras, GPS and the fact that you’re always connected to the Internet. Application developers need to take advantage of these in order to deliver a compelling user experience.

How has the rise of mobile technologies changed things for software developers?

Software developers are experiencing a fundamental shift in marketing because the channels are much easier, meaning there are app stores, and anyone can create applications and sell them through those channels, which creates huge opportunities in the industry. But it’s also challenging because now the application developer or the software developer actually has to think about who’s using the product and how their friends are referring the product. People are influenced by their friends more than they are by one particular company. Yelp is a great example. You don’t go to a restaurant’s website to find out what they’re saying about themselves because it doesn’t have as much credibility as actually finding out what their friends and other people think.

On the technology side, the challenge comes from the fact that there are so many open APIs [application programming interfaces] and so much capability that a developer can leverage on devices, which opens a world of complexity and possibilities for developers.

The most significant shift is the fact that everyone has a camera in their pocket all the time and the ability to share what they capture. That’s just a fundamental shift in the industry as a whole.

Is Gap between Hardware, Software Growing?

Adobe Systems’ Lea Hickman sees increasing complexity, competition for software developers to design standout experiences.

Lea Hickman Adobe Systems

"I see a gap between hardware and software being created today. They're disconnected because hardware advancements are not readily accessible to software developers," said Lea Hickman, vice president of Adobe's creative consumer business.

The rapid uptake of smartphones and tablets has been a boon for many software companies, but an executive at Adobe Systems says it’s getting more challenging for developers to create apps and experiences that stand out from the competition.

Today, software developers have to deal with savvier digital users and a more mature app ecosystem, according to Lea Hickman, vice president of Adobe’s creative consumer business. That requires them to focus rigorously on user experience and quality control across the whole process from app design to testing to distribution to different app stores. Moreover, developers must provide experiences that work smoothly across different device types, from PCs to tablets and mobile phones. Recently, Hickman discussed opportunities and challenges software developers face in the increasingly crowded world of mobile apps.

What’s the biggest challenge for software and application developers today?

I see a gap between hardware and software being created today. They’re disconnected because hardware advancements are not readily accessible to software developers. I would like to see software and application developers get more access to future hardware well before it’s released so they can provide consumers with really amazing experiences. This continues to be a real challenge.

The tools are everything today because there’s so much fragmentation across the ecosystem. Today, developers really have to manage the whole process from designing to polishing new applications for release. In the past they could focus on code and then just let people download their applications. Now, developers have to think about the entire process because competition is fierce. Great experiences really stand out from those that are less so.

Our challenge is to continue building great tools and applications for the mass market — applications that inspire people to be more creative and to create digital content that they can share with friends, families, loved ones and on social networks.

What about the challenges of developing applications that run on a variety of devices from desktop and laptop PCs to smartphones and tablets?

Adobe is investing a lot into HTML5 development. We’ve taken the history of expertise we have with providing complete work flows in Flash, for example, and we’re applying it to HTML5. The design tools need to have capabilities and work flow, but also smooth, functional coding and testing environments. We recently released new services that allow developers to create, publish and test. Because there are so many different devices today, it’s really, really hard for developers and designers to create compelling experiences knowing that they’ll have the level of expected high fidelity on every device.

In the past, when we were just developing applications for the desktop, it was pretty straight forward. We knew the capabilities of desktops. Today you have to take into consideration all of the capabilities that every device has, including cameras, GPS and the fact that you’re always connected to the Internet. Application developers need to take advantage of these in order to deliver a compelling user experience.

How has the rise of mobile technologies changed things for software developers?

Software developers are experiencing a fundamental shift in marketing because the channels are much easier, meaning there are app stores, and anyone can create applications and sell them through those channels, which creates huge opportunities in the industry. But it’s also challenging because now the application developer or the software developer actually has to think about who’s using the product and how their friends are referring the product. People are influenced by their friends more than they are by one particular company. Yelp is a great example. You don’t go to a restaurant’s website to find out what they’re saying about themselves because it doesn’t have as much credibility as actually finding out what their friends and other people think.

On the technology side, the challenge comes from the fact that there are so many open APIs [application programming interfaces] and so much capability that a developer can leverage on devices, which opens a world of complexity and possibilities for developers.

The most significant shift is the fact that everyone has a camera in their pocket all the time and the ability to share what they capture. That’s just a fundamental shift in the industry as a whole.