Monday keynote, Rob Burgess: This is all heavily paraphrased, and may not capture the salient points... if you picked up something else, please feel free to drop a note in "comments" here, thanks.
He started with a thank-you to the developers who actually create this stuff. Not everyone can come to this event in the US, particularly this year, but it's the people who create actual user experiences who drive this whole thing forward.
What Macromedia has been about has been consistent since day one: enabling a better user experience. It started during days of floppy-drive distribution, where various media types could be integrated into a single presentation. CD distribution came and the tools were optimized for this, then web distribution arrived and prompted another round of evolution. This faster distribution method makes digital delivery "indispensible stuff".
In the first flush of fast delivery there were lots of experiments, almost a mania, but "in many cases we left the user behind." The key point isn't how clever the presentation is, but how it lets the user achieve their goals, do what they want to do. (He brought up that we tend to call them "users", even though a more appropriate term may be "guest".)
"In the last six to nine months I've seen an opportunity for rapid change that we haven't seen before, because now people are starting to develop experiences that work against phones, TV, stores." The focus on actual user experience that helps people do things brings these screen-based experiences right up against realworld experiences.
He cited the book "The Experience Economy", which describes how value proceeds through stages of commodity, goods, services, to experience. At the left end of that growth spectrum you're mostly focused on the item, towards the right end you focus more and more on the person for whom that item is intended -- from user anonymity to user knowledge. The value of the work increases with better fit to the actual user of the item. (Example: coffee beans are a commodity, and pretty cheap... when you brew a pot of coffee at home it's worth more... going to a restaurant and getting a cup of coffee as a service increases the value which is paid for it... now people are paying $2-5 for a cup of coffee at Starbucks because of experience details like comfortable chairs, meeting people, predictable bathrooms, wireless access. Same bean, different values attached to it depending on the final experience which surrounds it.)
The net drives the commoditization of news, information, contacts, communication. When you can slash the distribution costs news can become more anonymous. The value remains in how you tailor the experience to what the visitor is actually trying to accomplish.
He showed some URLs which I couldn't catch... a training series from the Davis, California fire department... a single-screen online email service from Postio (think HotMail but in a single screen, no full-page refreshes, separating data from content)... a video + interaction corporate presentation from Ego7 in New York City... an IBM ad which also used scripted video sensibilities along with user-controlled interactivity... the DateCam site where he did some cam exchanges with Jeremy Allaire.
He said there will be a "quick spin" on the next version of the Flash Communications Server, that the new Flash Remoting will also have a short development cycle to quickly respond to first requests. ColdFusion MX is being picked up by more and more people... 25% of licenses are being bought by people who had not used ColdFusion before.
Right now development is still difficult... you have to learn a lot about general techniques in order to accomplish a specific goal. But you also have to deal with learning about client and visitor needs too. This first generation of MX tools makes tasks much simpler than before, but we still have to reduce the learning and implementation costs further so you can concentrate more on the actual enduser experience. The more you can tailor your work to its audiences, the higher up that value chain you can go.
Research & Development is very high at Macromedia, at 30% of revenues. Of the top 100 software companies that's at the 99th percentile. There's a lot of investment right now in building atop that MX infrastructure to make things faster and easier for more people to develop... lots going on in the shop.