Gee, that sure escalated quickly… (Flash player “bundling” gets Slashdotted)

Apparently, sickness the debate over whether Macromedia should bundle third-party software with its free Flash Player has broken the confines of the Flash blogs this evening, and found its way over to Slashdot.

While this means a lot of extra typing for bloggers and Macromedia staff (particularly John Dowdell), I think it’s a good indication of how much suspicion is raised at the mere thought of bundling such “bonus material” with something many feel is a “basic necessity” for rich internet application development. I’ve heard from people who still want to love Macromedia, and from others who already think Flash is evil, and from still others who just feel confused by the whole issue.

If you haven’t already, feel free to let us know what you think, too. I honestly do believe Macromedia is listening.

And thanks again to all our new visitors from Slashdot! Hope you enjoy your stay!

— Vito

[Edit: With some help from others, I hope, I’ll try to clarify/address more of the issues/concerns/misstatements/questions presented in the comments later, but I’ll wait for the dust to settle first. I can only speak from a developer’s point of view, though, and there’s no sense fielding questions while the shouting match is still in full swing. 😉 ]

[Edit 2: Macromedia has, at least in my book, proven itself to be considerate of the needs of developers and the Web community at large: The company has since redesigned the download page in question, making the Toolbar choice a little clearer and offering an option for developers who want to show their clients no part of it. Thanks, Macromedia.]

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5 thoughts on “Gee, that sure escalated quickly… (Flash player “bundling” gets Slashdotted)”

  1. It escalated quickly because it is the most heinous thing MM have ever done. Some dumbass executive went overboard on the recently and totally lost focus. Let’s hope it can be salvaged.

  2. closest match would be an ad on a webpage

    With all due respect John, but that is just not true. An ad doesn’t install itself. The toolbar installation is opt-out, not opt-in. Average users will for the most part not notice/care to read the terms and simply install it. This is the reason MM designed the download defaulting to include the toolbar.

    Again, I appreciate your participating in this discussion, and your previous work in the community. But suggesting – to professionals in your own industry, no less – that this download process is not designed to induce Joe Average to unintentionally download the toolbar with the player, is almost insulting to out intellect.

    And yes, it is true this is only applying to a minority of IE users – but that’s not the point. The point is that even a few people having problems with this will tarnish MM’s reputation. And a reputation as a company that is pushing software down unsuspecting users throats is hard to get rid of. Real had to learn this the hard way.

    Only the difference between Real and MM is that you are harming developers along with yourself.

  3. The main concern I’m hearing is that the “download Yahoo!” option is the default option on the Web page. While one could argue that this doesn’t constitute bundling (I wouldn’t), it is certainly more significant than “an ad on a webpage.”

    The fact that it only shows up for a minority of Win/IE users makes it even scarier in my book. Now users must really check the fine print to make sure they’re only getting what they want when they download the player.

    My nightmare hypothetical situation: Microsoft pays Macromedia to make the default option for Win/Firefox users include a “free bonus” Internet Explorer installation Note: I’m making this up; it’s not a real situation as far as I know (Stay calm, people!), but you can see how far the imagination wanders once people begin to question a company’s practices.

    And I’ll say it again: I like Macromedia. I want to see them succeed as much as anybody. I’m just afraid this isn’t the way for them — or their loyal development base — to do so.

  4. Just read the Flash player faq on the MM site. There is this bit:
    What is the relationship between Yahoo! and Macromedia?
    Macromedia and Yahoo! have a multi-faceted relationship comprised of several product and technology initiatives including:
    * distributing the Yahoo! Toolbar to Macromedia users;
    * integrating key technologies and services; and
    * making Macromedia content searchable via Yahoo! search.

    Apart from the toolbar issue, what do the last 2 actually mean? Is this related to technology and content on MM websites. How does all this affect the stuff I create?
    This is making me slightly worried…

    Jelmer

  5. I’m still thinking about what all this means, but in response to Jelmer’s question the following might be of some use even if it doesn’t really answer the question completely:”

    From Macromedia:
    “Yahoo! has already played a significant role in promoting the Flash standard through its use of Flash on its website, its advertising network and its use of the Flash Player within the Yahoo! Instant Messenger Client. Furthermore, Yahoo! has recently opened up its search engine search engine API and services to Flash developers.”

    Also, if you follow this link: http://developer.yahoo.net/faq/#flash
    You’ll see the following:

    “Q: Does Yahoo! support Flash development?
    We have added a crossdomain.xml file to the top level of the Web Services directory. This should enable your flash-based applications to retrieve data from the Web Services.”

    Also of interest is:

    http://www.clickz.com/news/article.php/3093311

    “Yahoo! is the first major publisher to support Macromedia’s Flash Player 7 for distribution of rich, interactive ads…”

    Yours truly,
    -Brian

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