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Some thoughts on the Yahoo! Toolbar offer on the Macromedia website

First of all, I am sorry that I have not been posting much for the past couple of months. As I posted earlier, I was on sabbatical and vacation for two months, and more recently I have had some personal issues I had to deal with and have been trying to buy a new house. Things should settle down soon, and I will be posting a lot more (there is a ton of cool stuff coming down the pike to talk about).

There has been a lot of discussion going on over the past week or so about the Yahoo! Toolbar offer on the Macromedia website. Before I go into too much detail about it, I just want to clarify what the offer actually is and is not.

Currently, if you are using Internet Explorer on Windows, and do not have the Yahoo! Toolbar installed, and you visit the Flash Player Download Center on the Macromedia website, you will be presented with an offer on the download page to also download the Yahoo! Toolbar. I just want to make this point clear, the offer is on the Macromedia website, is optional, and is not part of the Flash Player or Flash player installer.

As stated in the Flash Player FAQ:

Macromedia has not and will not include 3rd party software or 3rd party software offers in the Flash Player installer.

I wanted to emphasize this point as there was some concern that the offer was actually in the player. It is not, and will never be.

You can still trigger the install of the Flash player directly from your site without the user having to visit the Macromedia website (95% plus of player installs are installed through this mechanism).

So, having clarified what exactly is going on, I want to acknowledge that we have not done a very good job of communicating with the community about the offer and why we are doing it. We have been working hard the past week to improve this, and have updated the Flash Player FAQ with much more information.

One of the main questions that has been coming up, and which we discuss in the FAQ, is why did we do this deal with Yahoo!. The Yahoo! Toolbar offer is actually part of a larger relationship with Yahoo!, which we believe will significantly benefit both current and (especially) future Flash player adoption rates. However, this offer is only one of the first visible signs of the relationship, and thus we have had to be vague on the other aspects of the relationship as they have not yet been announced.

Yahoo! is one of the biggest Flash customers in the world, and through various initiatives has played a major role in introducing Flash content to end users, and driving Flash player downloads. They are also at the center of one of the hottest areas on the internet now (information management / searching), and if you look at other apps and content being created in the same space (as well as the work Yahoo! has already done), you can begin to see how Yahoo! could really benefit the Flash platform, introduce the platform to new people, and overall improve perceptions about the platform.

Of course, as many of you have guessed, there is also a distinct monetary aspect to this deal. The revenue from the Yahoo! Toolbar offer is directly funding some major initiatives (both announced and unannounced) that will be a vital part of the success of the Flash platform. We have already given some sneak peeks around 8ball and the next version of the Flash Player (maelstrom), but there is so much more coming down the pike. Indeed, we have already invested more time and resources on development for the next version of the Flash player than we have for any previous version of the player. And while we have only given sneaks, I truly believe that because of all of the work we are doing (and the input you have given us) this is the year that Flash as a application and creative platform will be taken to the next level.

But, again, I want to emphasize that the direct revenue is only one aspect of the relationship, and that one of the primary reasons we have partnered with Yahoo! is that they were interested in working with us on a number of fronts, and not just focus on one offer. Expect to hear more about this relationship over the coming weeks and months.

We set the default of the offer to encourage people to install the toolbar because we want this relationship to be successful. However, as many of you have pointed out, this, coupled with the design of the previous offer page was potentially misleading. Therefore, after much discussion with many of you one on one, we have basically redesigned the page from scratch. Our primary goal was to make it much clearer that the Yahoo! Toolbar offer is optional and separate from the Flash Player. Is it perfect? Probably not, but we feel it is now significantly clearer than the previous offer page.

You can view the updated page here.

Here is a screenshot for those of you who can’t see the offer above because you are not running Internet Explorer on Windows (of course I am sure everyone is using FireFox with my Macromedia News plugin, right?).

Finally, we need to provide better information about all of the options available about how the Flash player can be installed. We do have a number of options, but it is difficult to find info about all of them. The primary resource that we have is the Flash Detection Kit which allows for the seamless download of the Flash player (around 95% of Flash player installs are done through the seamless, automatic ActiveX installation). However, at least in my searching, I could not find a single document that discussed Flash Player installation in depth and covered all of the options (this technote is the closest that I could find). This is something that we are working on.

To summarize, we did not do a good job of communicating about the offer on the website, and the benefits that will accrue to the Flash platform and Flash designers and developers from the relationship with Yahoo!. Hopefully the updated FAQ, Flash Download page, and the conversations that I am sure will occur over the next couple of days (and additional details over the coming weeks and months) will help to change that.

You can view the Flash Player FAQ here.

You can view the Flash Player Download center here.

You can download the Flash Detection Kit from here.

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