Market Leader re-joins Virtual Meetings Race

Product name: Adobe Connect

Date of the first issue: 2006

Class: Virtual Meetings App

Author: Andy Gallas, Technical Director, Intempio

Intempio Verdict: We believe that with the legacy knowledge and planned technology investments, as well as a new top team, Adobe will attempt to challenge current market class leaders such as Zoom and Teams. Will they return to the top? We won’t know until we see the full scope of the changes we outline in this blog. 

Rating: 5.5/10 as this is a work in progress with impressive plans, particularly in how Adobe expects to roll out the new Enhanced Audio across devices in Q4, 2021.   

Executive Summary:

If you weren’t creating or attending virtual meetings prior to the COVID19 pandemic you probably have never heard of one of the best Virtual Meeting Platforms out there. Old tech-heads might remember its predecessor Macromedia Breeze from the early 2000s but since 2006 the product Adobe Connect had been a clear leader in online meetings and virtual training. Adobe is now back and investing in their solution to return to the top ranks of virtual meeting apps.

Why do you not know about Adobe connect? 

So, what happened? Why don’t I know about this Unicorn of Virtual Meetings you say? In my opinion, this came down to 3 things. 1) The language it was built on. 2) The audio codec(s) used and 3) Marketing. Because of these weaknesses, Adobe found itself quickly overtaken by the likes of zoom and Teams and unable to react quickly enough to these threats to their market share. The result? An almost overnight drop of 90% in the use of Adobe Connect by Intempio clients. 

So what has Adobe learned and what can we expect moving forward? 

Adobe Connect is making huge strides in catching back up with the current market leaders like Zoom and Teams. Adobe vision a much larger share of the virtual meetings market cake with new features coming as early as Q4, 2021. 

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Adobe Connect – Did you know its capability?   

Platforms like Zoom, Teams, WebEx, and BlueJeans weren’t even a twinkle in their creators’ eyes when Adobe Connect was blazing a trail of creativity to bring people together via the Internet, utilizing the wildly popular Flash technology. Cameras, Microphones, Whiteboards, Chat, and Presentations all in one place, almost unheard-of possibilities at a time in-person meetings dominated the meetings ecosystem. Multiple layouts to seamlessly move between activities and move assets across the screen to give Participants a more “Produced” (Adobe’s) look and feel is still unrivaled by any platform out there, even in the middle of 2021. Breakout Rooms to have smaller meetings within a meeting or practice sales techniques with peers during a training session. Anyone who has presented a PowerPoint online lately knows how frustrating it is to present while watching the chat for incoming questions or even seeing the expression on your audience’s face via webcams. Adobe Connect has had this figured out for years. Just load the document into the Platform so we can all see the same thing! You don’t even need to stop presenting to pass the control to the next presenter; they just pick up where you left off because they can see the same controls as you, as long as they are elevated to Presenter status. Yep, you read correctly, all of this was available prior to February 2020 …… 

Why did Adobe connect not make the most of the rise in Virtual Meetings?

a little Technical Flavor 

The very technology that Adobe Connect was built on was riddled with so many security flaws that the Internet Gods gathered in their secret lair and on July 25, 2017, and Adobe announced that it would end support of the famous Flash Player on January 1, 2021.  For those of us using Adobe Connect on a daily basis, this was no big deal. A huge and complex company has 3+ years to recode their entire platform using the latest and greatest coding language HTML5. Great, what could go wrong?  

At this time platforms like WebEx, GoToMeeting and BlueJeans were already a thing but they didn’t even touch the functionality that Adobe Connect offered. Also, visually Adobe Connect looked like an antiquated forgotten Apple IIe or Amiga computer software from the ’80s. These new Platforms looked very slick and modern and were already using the HTML5 language with clean lines and easy-to-understand icons. When COVID-19 hit the planet, Adobe Connect had not fully integrated their Platform to work as expected on PC/Mac/iOS/Android, it looked old and the most important thing in any meeting, virtual or not was the quality of the Audio. Adobe Connect had neglected to keep up with the times and it showed (er sounded). I’m pretty sure “Can you please mute your microphone” was birthed in an Adobe Connect meeting. The Speex and Nellie Moser Codecs being used were not cutting it and the new kids on the block brought some fancy new toys with them. Zoom (SILK and OPUS), Teams (SILK now Satin), and WebEx (Opus). The newer audio Codec (coder-decoder) software that suppressed noise and canceled echoes worked and they worked really well. 

Unless you worked in a Fortune 500 company within the last 10 years you probably have never heard of Adobe Connect and that is because their Marketing has been as antiquated as their looks. Zoom overpowered us in 2019 with ads on TV, radio, and social media. Granted Adobe Connect was a small section of a huge company and they already were doing business with Governments and large corporations. Why focus on regular people right? 

2020 proved that people can and will adapt to new technologies quickly if the need arises. We will see if this promise of a new platform from Adobe can do the same.

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