The reactions to Apple’s startling hire of a senior executive at Adobe, Kevin Lynch, as VP of Technology continue to roll in.
The Apple blogosphere is up in arms, with analyst John Gruber having called Lynch a “bozo” and “bad guy.”
The animosity from diehard Apple fans seems to be based primarily on the fact that Lynch (and Adobe) advocated a technology that Steve Jobs panned — Adobe’s Flash.
Lynch worked for Adobe at the time, so it’s hardly surprising that he was outspoken about Adobe’s products. And now that the Flash argument is over (Apple won), hopefully the Apple faithful can forgive him for once having played for another team.
But what about folks who don’t have a horse in the race? What do they think?
Wikimedia CommonsRay OzzieWe heard from one veteran tech executive this morning who had an interesting take on Lynch’s hire.
The executive liked it to Microsoft’s hiring of Ray Ozzie in 2005.
Ozzie was a very senior software executive and visionary who, among other accomplishments, had developed Lotus Notes. Microsoft bought his latest company, Groove Networks, and made him one of three Chief Technology Officers. The next year, Ozzie was promoted to Chief Software Architect at Microsoft, taking over the role from Microsoft founder Bill Gates.
Ozzie’s hiring and promotion was viewed as an effort by Microsoft to inject new talent and vision into the company. Microsoft had already lost the industry leadership position it had enjoyed in the 1990s, and it was widely perceived as missing out on the next generation of web-based services and software development. Ozzie was supposed to inject a new vision into Microsoft and revitalize the company.
Although Ozzie was widely respected within the industry, he was unable to change much at Microsoft. And he left the company quietly in 2010.
The veteran tech executive who reached out to us this morning thinks that Apple is trying to do the same thing with Kevin Lynch that Microsoft was doing with Ray Ozzie.
Despite launching the smartphone and tablet markets several years ago, Apple has fallen behind in software and services. After a power struggle, Apple fired software leader Scott Forstall last year. And the perception has been that the company has to reenergize its software and web-services effort or risk falling farther behind Google and other company.
Our tech exec’s theory is that the Lynch hiring shows that Apple realises it needs to go outside the company to get this expertise.
But he doesn’t think it’s going to work.
“History may remember Kevin Lynch as Apple’s ‘Ray Ozzie,'” the exec suggests. “Ray was a smart guy, brought in a critical time. [But he was reduced to a show pony role at Microsoft. There was no lasting legacy, no step change in innovation during his tenure…”
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