Why is Adobe creating its own web applications? (Hint: It's not what you think!)

Adobe released several new web applications this year and many more are on the way.

In a relatively short timeframe, Adobe acquired an online word processor, created a cool color tool, released a free document sharing tool and announced online versions of Photoshop and Premiere.

Now you might think that this is simply Adobe's latest attempt to grow the company by entering waters previously traversed by the likes of Google and Yahoo! But I feel that there's more to it. Specifically, there is one important advantage that having popular web applications will give Adobe: a new avenue for increasing the rate of Flash Player penetration.

I realized this today when I used Kuler and it asked me to upgrade to the latest Flash Player. Now I'm sure that Kuler doesn't use H.264 video but it still requires the latest Flash Player. And, I'm pretty sure that we're going to see Buzzword and the other Adobe applications start doing the same. If Buzzword becomes the online equivalent of Microsoft Word, you can be sure that a lot of people are going to upgrade to the latest Flash Player very quickly in order to keep working on their documents. Ditto for Photoshop and Premiere.

This is part of the reason why I predict that Adobe will keep these applications free in an effort to garner the largest user base it can. A user base that it can then transition almost immediately to the latest Flash Player the moment one is released.

Good one, Adobe!