In 2018 it was announced that Adobe planned to purchase the Magento platform for an estimated 1.68 billion dollars. That announcement has left a lot of doubt in the Magento Developer community for the longevity and dependability of the software. And what’s more concerning is that it actually happened. A Magento web development company like us has every right to be concerned, as Adobe has been known for buying software companies and then burying all traces of their existence.
Magento is an open-source E-Commerce platform used by countless websites. With the growing concern of updates and security patches always plaguing the platform, this news puts a lot in question for the software and puts the careers of Magento experts and Magento developers in a perilous situation. The software was originally developed by Varien, Inc, later sold to eBay, and then shortly thereafter to Permira, and now recently to Adobe.
The shifting of the Magento software through so many hands was likely a result of the complex nature of the structure and design of the PHP based e-commerce application. To paraphrase one Magento developer that helped write its code, who said in one online forum, ‘It was never streamlined, never optimized and it had so many work arounds in place for issues, it was amazing that it works as well as it does.‘
Moving Magento through acquisition from one software company to another likely also lead to the issues in updating within some versions. For example, updating 1.9.2 to any subsequent version has almost no path for updates, and usually a database export and reimport into the later software works better than any other method. PHP has constant threats and security patches alone that older legacy software like Magento 1.9 was built on (php version 5+). That causes update issues and sustainability issues. Many development firms focused on Magento Web Development, or actually in existence as a Magento Development Company, were drawn in with the promise of a free open source e-commerce solution that they could provide to their clients, saving huge amounts of money in comparison to the majority of the e-commerce platform offerings available at an enterprise entry level. Now that Adobe has acquired Magento, the probability is that this offering will become either subscription based, or licensed on an enterprise level. This alone is harrowing news. But since Adobe has announced the end of support for Magento 1.9 in June 2020, we at Sneaker are scratching our heads and wondering where we go from here. Starting from scratch in 2.x versions is not a viable option, as plugins do not work from one version to the next, or developers of the plugins did not create a version for Magento 2 due to its anemic arrival (if you were there, it took almost a year for the Magento 2 example site displayed so proudly on Magento’s home page to even work at all). These plugins will have to be repurchased or redeveloped, and is anyone a little bit concerned about the stability of Magento 2? Or better yet, what the hell is Adobe going to do with it? Are they skipping it to go to a version 3, as some would suggest? Maybe they think like we do, that version 2 is better left to die. Themes from one version to the next are also not compatible. So free and open source in the current situation has repeated costs that some Magento based clients do not want to incur. And then, free and open source doesn’t seem to be mentionable in a conversation that includes “Adobe”.
Let’s face it, Adobe typically purchases software companies or their offerings because these potential acquisitions make them think green $ signs, or those offerings threaten the green $ signs that are currently flowing from one of their products. And when the software gets into their hands, things can get ugly. Remember Flash, anyone? That was a software that could have changed the face of the web had it stayed in the hands of Macromedia. At the time, Adobe’s arrogant leadership had made way too many enemies in places that mattered most, and the biggest names, the only entry points into the world of personal computing, Microsoft and Apple, took out Flash in a short amount of time. Did anyone see that coming? And what about Adobe Business Catalyst? I feel sorry for all of the Adobe Business Catalyst Developers and Adobe Business Catalyst Development Firms, or Media companies. They are now trying to explain to their paying clients that an exit strategy is necessary for the eminent arrival of that shipwreck. Can any assumptions be formed from these examples? Should we mention Adobe Forms, the Dreamweaver Developer toolbox, Fireworks? All these died ugly deaths in the hands of a company that seemed to lack good judgement toward the value of these offerings, and also toward the customers that used them. I can see a board of executives at Adobe in front of a chart indicating that sales aren’t as high as Photoshop, therefore there is no need to continue.
From Adobe’s press release about the acquisition of Magento, it is made clear that Magento will soon be turned into a Cloud Application for their CS product range. “Embedding commerce into the Adobe Experience Cloud with Magento enables Adobe to make every moment personal and every experience shoppable.” Ahh. Remember my rantings about Adobe dropping Business Catalyst?
This announcement also brings into question the legitimacy of Magento remaining a free and open source product due to Adobe’s controversial move to ‘lease’ software to users instead of owning versions of software long term from a single purchase. “If it’s replacing Adobe Business Catalyst, you can bet you’re bottom dollar they ain’t gonna offer it fur free.”
The ‘lease’ model of software is controversial and internationally frowned upon, with several interesting reactions from the Australian Government. They have told their population that use Adobe products that they will block attempts from Adobe to prosecute under the software piracy act if the software is used without leasing it.
Australia also famously questioned Adobe about their prices being drastically higher in Australia, higher than any other country selling the same Adobe products internationally (Video Link).
All of this being said, the question remains, what is the future of Magento? Will it exist as a free platform, as chunky and clunky as it now? We here at Sneaker, any Magento Web Development company, or any Magento web developer, has a vested interest in its continued success. Largely the same people that have invested thousands to hundreds of thousands of $’s over the years to host, maintain and design their store, now are asking the same question, or they might just well be in the process of looking for an alternative that will be worth their time and effort to get their store back on stable ground again.
If your company needs Magento experts, and a Magento Development Company that can handle the updates, patches, or replacements necessary to run this beast, please contact us today to discuss how Sneaker can assist you with your Magento store or other e-commerce needs!
Joseph has been working in Internet Technology in various aspects since 1994. He has traveled in Europe helping many organizations improve their technical reach and ability and firmly believes that technology can benefit any company when applied correctly.