May 17

Tim O'Reilly

Tim O'Reilly

What's Keeping Adobe Up at Night? Probably Not Silverlight.

Roger Magoulas, our director of research, sent out the recent comment and graph as part of his weekly analysis of the latest load of our Bookscan-based data mart:

What's keeping Adobe up at night? Probably not Silverlight. I noticed the Silverlight topic looking bright red [in the treemap visualization that shows week-to-week changes by topic] and thought I would take a look - see the chart below. Since Silverlight and the somewhat related Expression Web books started appearing in October, we don't see much trendworthy activity. We do see Flash selling 6-7 times the units as Expression Web, Flash experiencing a holiday bump and Flex increasing steadily. Silverlight and Expression Web are young and Microsoft famously sticks by its products - should be an interesting topic to follow.


In short, if book sales are any indicator, traction for Silverlight appears to be quite low.

While Roger is correct in noting that it's never wise to count Microsoft out, so far it does appear that they haven't made much of a dent in Flash's dominance. SearchEngineWatch recently reported that even Microsoft is still not using Silverlight on many of its web properties.

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Comments: 19

  Kurt Brockett [05.17.08 12:46 PM]

I'm seeing an uptick there in Silverlight and in reality Silverlight really won't even play in Flash's space until 2 ships sometime this summer. I'm not sure Silverlight is keeping them up this year, next or even in 2010 but I think this will be a great graph to revisit 12 months for now once Silverlight 2 has had a little time in the market as an RTM product.

Just that your team is writing and thinking about this is probably a good sign for Silverlight that it is being watched as a legitimate competitor and initiative.

Kurt Brockett

  Jesse Liberty [05.17.08 05:06 PM]


I'm pretty sure that when we (Microsoft) ship Silverlight 2, and when we (O'Reilly) ship Programming Silverlight 2 there will be an uptick in interest. Beyond that, comparing book sales on Silverlight and Flash strikes me as (forgive me) rather missing the point on Silverlight 2.

I look forward to finishing the book and then buying you a beer and talking over why and how Silverlight 2 is not Flash, and why I left 12 years as an independent to take a job at Microsoft specifically to work on the Silverlight team while writing about it for you :-)

  Tim O'Reilly [05.17.08 07:23 PM]

Jesse --

I hope you're right! We're obviously betting on Silverlight 2 with you by publishing. I'm mostly just stirring the pot, hoping to get MS competitive juices flowing, and to address the question raised by SearchEngineWatch about why MS itself isn't using Silverlight. Sounds like Silverlight 2 is the answer.

Looking forward to Silverlight 2. And as Roger said, we never count Microsoft out!

  Dirk Krause [05.18.08 12:24 AM]

It would be interesting what the first derivative of these number would be.


  Klim [05.18.08 01:30 AM]

"even Microsoft is still not using Silverlight on many of its web properties"

SilverLight 2 is at beta, pal. It's like saying "even Adobe prefers Flash 9 over 10", which sounds pretty funny, ain't it? As for traction, just search how many developers are out there. A large portion of them will switch to SL2 once it's gold, and there are an army of them.

  Kalle [05.18.08 06:32 AM]

I tried to order some Silverlight 2 books from Amazon but found 0 books published :/ I guess this will get better in the summer...

  james [05.18.08 06:42 AM]

A quick comment: I think Adobe has to be worried. I've studied Flex for a year, read 3 books, and its database controls are extremely poor, practically unusable for real business applications (think one to many tables on a form).

So far, Silverlight 2's data controls are mediocre at best. But, watch the 3rd party folks, like Devexpress and Infragistics, both of whom are building Silverlight data grids. These fellows know what business developers need, and if they build controls similar in capability to their other grids, Silverlight will dominate. Flex has nothing to match these tools.

  Erica [05.18.08 08:39 AM]

Since Flash was originally called FutureSplash, does that mean Silverlight is... Slight?

  Jack Krueger [05.18.08 10:08 AM]

Good post but have to say comparing Flash with Silverlight isn't best choice IMO. Tim - could we see charts comparing c# with actionscript?

  Gregor Winter [05.18.08 05:23 PM]

Well, winner will be the system wich Microsoft will ship as default with their OS. It is as easy as that.

  Nate Nead [05.19.08 08:52 AM]

Although, Microsoft may not be making headway with this app yet, you have to look long term--because that's what they do. Think of Xbox. They were willing to take a short term loss for a much longer term gain. Positioning themselves for the long term is their strategy these days. Keep may take some time. But it'll slowly happen.

  Laurel Ruma [05.20.08 12:56 PM]

Kalle: We (O'Reilly) just released Essential Silverlight 2 Up-to-Date by Christian Wenz, and it'll be kept up-to-date until the final release of Silverlight 2.

Would love to hear any feedback you have. We've set up forums here:

  Kaveh Shahbazian [06.24.08 04:25 PM]

Just about book sales; sometimes ago (2 years?) a book on Lisp reached near Harry Potter! Yet I am using C# in my daily development not Lisp!
(Of course I prefer Lisp on C#).

  MySchizoBuddy [09.26.08 11:20 AM]

Now that we have a bunch of S2 books in the market. are we seeing any jumps in the data.
When will you post a follow up post.

  MySchizoBuddy [09.26.08 02:52 PM]

Can you also indicate right on the maps the various releases of flash and silverlight. So we can more accurately judge books sales after a major release is launched.

  Techwriters [09.30.08 03:25 AM]

Hey interesting...
The article is very good...
can you find some ebooks related to silverlight.....?

  Carlos [01.18.09 04:15 AM]

About flash vs silverlight there are a couple of things to say:
1) There are many web developers that write more php than asp/, and their still interested in flash, cause their don't know any of .net languages, or don't want to have another language in their web apps.
2) Flash is supported in much many platforms than silverlight so far, like linux, bsd's (using gnash), and so on.
2) Adobe has recently release adobe air, which puts flash on our desktops.
3) Flash has much more history than silverlight, mostly of them are flash games.
4) Many people don't want to stick with .net, and there aren't much free hosts that provide asp/, and their count because we have a lot of personal webpages, and developers begin gy writing their own personal webpage.
5) The beta of Windows 7, don't enforce any of them, but you can install either or both of them if you want (and thats an nice strategy from ms, not to think by their customers, and enforce what their use)

  james [04.28.09 07:05 AM]

Silverlight is a big project which wouldn't be appealing to actionscript programmer( designers aspiring to take up programming) who are scared of frameworks like .NET, JAVA etc. just watch silverlight mature and experience the difference between designers aspiring to be programmers and real programmers even in RIA world

  Ben [04.29.09 04:35 PM]

I dont think booksales are that relevant for some MS products due to the huge amount of information available on MSDN . That is not the case with Flash etc. I write Silverlight but mainly use my WPF documentation.

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