Macromedia is using the launch of its Contribute application to examine new revenue opportunities, including the establishment of a direct sales force and a "more sophisticated channel" to bundle services around its ColdFusion and Flash server scripting products for Java and Windows .Net.
Peter O'Connor, Macromedia's vice president for Asia-Pacific, said the addition of value-added resellers with the ability to branch out into integration is not about its existing partners missing the mark. It's a case of the new products opening up new opportunities.
"A different level of sophistication is required [for the server-based products]," said Macromedia country manager John Treloar. "Especially with Flash communications server, it will take a while for people to whip up applications."
Nevertheless, the vendor expects strong growth from Sun One and IBM WebSphere users as they realise that they don't have to spend seven months retraining their ColdFusion developers in Java.
Meanwhile, O'Connor downplayed concerns that the direct sales force would take business away from channel partners. "The aim of the direct sales force is to broker new business opportunities. We will continue to fulfil everything through partners," he said.
The direct force will start with one salesperson in Sydney and grow depending on how customers react to the idea.
Contrary to suspicions of going direct, Macromedia plans to focus more heavily on training through its preferred reseller program. The vendor does not have a tiered partner program as such, so the allocation of training funds will be decided on an individual basis but, according to Treloar, most of it will be dedicated to SI-type partners, either new or existing.
The training seems targeted at getting the more innovative aspects of Macromedia's technology out in the open, aspects like Macromedia Flash Remoting, whereby the client application can communicate with the server without requiring the browser page to reload, thus enhancing the user experience significantly.
In terms of Contribute, which will be available from December 6 for $249 retail, Treloar said pre-orders through distributors suggest very strong interest. The product allows users to make adjustments to Web sites without having to understand the complexities of HTML, Dreamweaver or FrontPage. Access restrictions allow it to be used in corporate environments to alleviate the online team's workload and to cast the responsibility for information updates back to individual departments.
"WebCentral has 50,000 sites and they tell me that over 70 per cent of them never get updated," said Treloar. "That's a waste." At the same time, he said the typical structure of Australian organisations means that hundreds of staff are going through a small group of people, namely the Web team, to get content updated. "That's not good."
From a strategic standpoint, the vendor is in the process of moving its Asia-Pacific headquarters from Sydney to Singapore to take advantage of the Asian developer pool which, according to O'Connor, is growing significantly faster than Australia's.
Asia is also the hub for device manufacturers in which Macromedia is trying to get its products embedded, including PC and mobile phones.
Meanwhile, the developer is keen to take a more active role in battling software piracy for which Asia is an infamous breeding ground. O'Connor estimates that 70 per cent of Macromedia's install base in Asia-Pacific is using pirated software, which translates into huge losses for both the vendor and its channel.