Microsoft & Adobe Discuss Fighting Apple, Merger Possible

| Rumor

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen met recently to discuss how the two companies could work to fight Apple’s growing dominance of the smartphone market. Among the possibilities discussed by the two tech lords was a merger, according to unnamed sources quoted by The New York Times.

The newspaper’s sources, though unnamed, were both internal employees at at least one of the two companies, as well as outside consultants, all of whom were either briefed on the discussions or are simply familiar with internal goings on.

Microsoft wouldn’t comment for the article, telling The Times that the company doesn’t, “comment on rumors/speculation.” For its part, Adobe didn’t deny the meeting took place, and a company spokesperson said that, “Adobe and Microsoft share millions of customers around the world and the CEOs of the two companies do meet from time to time. However, we do not publicly comment on the timing or topics of their private meetings.”

Speaking of those topics, at least one of them was all about Apple’s efforts to block Flash on its iOS platform. The details of that discussion were not revealed, other than a discussion about whether or not there’s something the two companies could do together to fend off the kind of power that makes such an action on Apple’s part meaningful.

The other topic discussed was the idea of the two companies merging. Adobe and Microsoft discussed a merger several years ago, according to the report, but at the time Microsoft was concerned about the U.S. Department of Justice blocking such a merger on anticompetitive grounds.

Today, however, Microsoft is a bit player in the smartphone market, and Apple and Google are seen as the top dogs in the techyard as a whole. As such, the time could be ripe for the two companies to become one.

We thought we might give our design skills a workout to suggest a possible name for the new two companies should they merge.

Microbe Logo

Artist’s rendering of possible logo for a merged Microsoft & Adobe

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34 Comments Leave Your Own

Tiger

Something tells me this is gonna get really ugly mean and nasty.

In this corner we have Adobe and Microsoft wearing a nice shade of pale green on their faces.

In the other corner we have Apple and Google wearing a darker shade of green (money!).

Let the games begin. Something tells me Adobe instigated this as a PR move, but I think it’s going to backfire on them. The entire world now knows that Adobe is on the selling block. Stockholders should NOT be encouraged by this move at all. Your management just sold you out.

Bryan Chaffin

Two companies with no vision coasting on past success…It makes sense for them to merge.

Lee Dronick

MicRobe would be an appropriate name because as we all know microbes are bugs and that alliance would result in an infestation. smile

Jamie

Microsoft wouldn?t comment for the article, telling The Times that the company doesn?t, ?comment on rumors/speculation.?

What?! They most certainly do and always have, and they are legendary for their misdirection, vaporware, and astroturfing into the stratosphere.

And my what an Apple-like answer. I think it’s official: the rest of the tech industry (the mainstream industry that is, I’m leaving the Linux/open source community out of this rant) has used Apple as a clinic for how to do damn near everything. Facebook holds a media event to unveil secret features. Microsoft derides Apple’s retail stores then opens retail stores. Google derides iOS devices then starts making their own versions. In spite of all the bad press over the years that iTunes and iOS have gained serious traction, it would appear that Apple are still the belles of the ball. At least Amazon recognized their strengths and decided to play to them. 

And I’m with you, Tiger. The entire thing smacks of desperation on the part of both parties. How much simpler would it be to just make good stuff that people want to spend their $$$ on? A lot to ask, I know

jscottk

Ew. You made me throw-up in my own mouth a little.

I can’t think of a worse future for Adobe. If M$ takes it over: bye-bye Photoshop, Illustrator, and Indesign. M$ will euthanize them in favor of their own “technologies.” Say what you will about Flash (Is Adobe really going to throw away its entire future for Flash? Really?), but there simply is no substitute for Adobe’s big three. Period.

Thanks a lot for depressing me on a Thursday.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Hey Stevie [...deleted - Editor]

Brad, that was over the line - Bryan.

geoduck

Is this where Apple slips in and buys Adobe?

Tom B

Apple’s been waiting for excuse to publish a Photoshop killer. If MSFT buys ADBE, they will be buying an empty bag.

<Cue maniacal laughter>

xmattingly

Hahahaha…. “Microbe”.

Bryan, I don’t know if you come up with that stuff or who is responsible for the article graphics, but that was priceless. :D

On another note, I’ve been using Adobe’s stuff for over a decade, and I haven’t been enthusiastic about their products for quite a while now. From a user point of view, I think they have reached a point where there really isn’t much that they can offer that will truly enhance the way content creators work, so for a guy like me there is a very limited reason to plunk down nearly $1000 for a batch of bug fixes, modest UI enhancements and new features that won’t get much use.

In other words, their potential for growth has flattened out. Funny that the idea of a merger would be courted by another software giant whose growth potential is flat, too.

Final thought… Adobe hasn’t had any loyalty towards Apple for over a decade, so if a merger DID happen I could see them once again trying to treat Mac OS users as 2nd class citizens.

Tiger

Sith. There are always two.

xmattingly

Sith. There are always two.

Ha - yes, but which one is the apprentice, and which is the master?

Tiger

I think it’s which one is the flake, which one is the nutjob.

Bryan Chaffin

Bryan, I don?t know if you come up with that stuff or who is responsible for the article graphics, but that was priceless.

Thanks, x! Jeff makes most of our graphics, and the ideas come from both of us.  I made this one, but only because Jeff was seeing a Hubble movie in 3D at an IMAX theater, the rat bastard!

If he had made it, it would have matched a little better. smile

GeoKost

I am glad I just recently updated to PSCS5 and Lightroom 3.0.

I don’t know if I could handle Micr…..... dang, can’t even say it, being on that software.

rustymac

This news item almost sounds like someone’s bad joke. I’ve been using Adobe’s graphics software for over 17 years. I’d hate to see them get swallowed up by Microsoft.

I still hate the fact that Bungie sold out to MS years ago. That deal was NOT good for Mac users.

b0wz3r

I know it may not make business sense in the long run, but I would absolutely LOVE to see Apple step in with that multibillion pile of cash they’re sitting on, buy up Adobe, and KILL ALL PC VERSIONS OF ADOBE PRODUCTS.

That would be karmic justice.

vpndev

If you look at the rate at which MS and Adobe ship bugs, you’d think they had merged already.

Lee Dronick

Apple?s been waiting for excuse to publish a Photoshop killer

I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple has one waiting in the wings, maybe a drawing program as well.

With some work Pages could challenge InDesign. I have used it to lay out some jobs, it isn’t as full featured as InDesign, but the potential is there.

Bilbo63

Wow, I hope Adobe isn’t this foolish. Microsoft is a “has been” company that is clearly on the way down. Adobe does not even remotely need Microsoft.

I’ve been using Adobe software for 20 years and been a very loyal customer. By in large, I am very happy with their products, but if they sell out to Microsoft, I will stick with my current version of the Creative Suite which is so robust, it will still make me money for years to come. I will not support Adobe any longer if they merge with Microsoft.

Microsoft are crazy obsessing about Apple. In the mobile phone space, Android is a far bigger threat to their mobile aspirations. Ballmer is and always has been a total joke.

Jeff Gamet

e Jeff was seeing a Hubble movie in 3D at an IMAX theater, the rat bastard!

Hey, now! If someone made a good image editor with layer support for the iPad I could’ve made you something. That said, I think you did a great job with your Microbe graphic. smile

geoduck

Ballmer is and always has been a total joke.

The more I think about this rumour the less likely I think it will come to pass. The parties aren’t that stupid. First and foremost as you pointed out Adobe has to know that the product of such a merger will be run by Ballmer. This guarantees it will be a disaster. In addition:

MS has Silverlight. They don’t need Flash or any of the other Adobe web products. If they bought Adobe to just kill the competition then developers would just IMO go to HTML5 and other real standards.

MS has nothing that Adobe needs.

Anticompetitive hurdles will still be there.

The desktop is not the issue and neither company has products for mobile. Flash does not work on mobile, other tools are not designed for mobile. MS’s mobile efforts have ranged from inept to disastrous. Two companies with no viable products add up to a company that still does not have any viable products.

A merger would take what, a year to complete? Then there would be another couple of years before it could produce anything. That’s three years of them falling even further behind. This is what produced the Kin fiasco.  It’s not a winning strategy.

Lee Dronick

MS has Silverlight. They don?t need Flash or any of the other Adobe web products

This brings up the question of SilverLight on iOS.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

MS has Silverlight. They don?t need Flash or any of the other Adobe web products. If they bought Adobe to just kill the competition then developers would just IMO go to HTML5 and other real standards.

You totally misunderstand Adobe. Flash is the tip of their iceberg. They provide end to end publishing solutions that absolutely dominate the publishing world. Apple comes along touting HTML5 and it’s like a big ice cube with nothing underneath supporting it. Perhaps to some on the surface, it looks like the tip of an iceberg, but to those who have tried to make it work with publishing systems they have so much invested in over decades already, it’s become $1 million here, $1 million there, deployment issue here (app size, Wired), deployment issue there (no landscape mode SI).

What Microsoft *might* be able to help Adobe with is robustness of their software. But that’s a multi-year effort. Where Adobe can probably help Microsoft is defining and owning the lightweight app platform. It would comprise 95% of mobile apps and 50% of desktop apps, especially vertical and custom apps. And across all platforms. Software economics call for higher level tools accessible to more people, especially with software lifetimes shortening and continual platform upheaval. Silverlight is arguable built better ground up than Flash, but Flash is ubiquitous in both content production and among consumers. Flash’s roots are deep, thick, and very strong.

geoduck

This brings up the question of SilverLight on iOS.

Or Android. MSs presence in the mobile world isn’t any better than Adobe’s.
The whole rational for this merger seems to stop Apple’s dominance of the mobile world but this would do nothing for that. Adobe is strong in the desktop web creation and publishing fronts. A merger with Microsoft would only harm that. Similarly, they are only peripherally involved with mobile users. A merger with Microsoft would not help that. On the other side Adobe would give Microsoft nothing that would help them defeat Apple in Mobile-space. Indeed Apple isn’t Microsoft’s competition, Google is.

The only way this could ‘benefit’ a merged Microsoft-Adobe (Microbe, I love that name), would be if they immediately dropped all support for non Microsoft platforms. No more Mac or Linux versions of software. no more plug ins for Firefox, Opera, or Safari. nothing for iOS or Android, etc.  All content would be viewable only on WinMob7 and Desktop IE9. Creation with Illustrator or Photoshop could only happen on Win7 or later.

And you think Microsoft got into antitrust hot water before. This kind of behaviour would make the previous trouble look trivial. DOJ, EU, China, they’d get chewed up and spit out in a dozen countries.

It’s not a winning strategy. So much so that I suspect that just the rumour of this has a few people in the DOJ quietly and unofficially watching the two companies to see if they start down the path that would cause trouble later.

Ethan

“Flash does not work on mobile”

I guess Pogue must hav been dreaming:
http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/10/07/testing-videos-on-cellphones-with-flash/#more-2951

“neither company has products for mobile”

The Iphone Packager in Flash Professional, Air runtime for Android in the Android marketplace right now (launched today), the HTML5 extensions for Illustrator and Dreamweaver, device central in CS5 must all just be in my imagination. Oh wait-they are are all installed on my Macbook Pro allowing me to code for mobile platforms right now.

You really need to think for yourself and not just listen to Jobs. He’s like the old guy on the tv screen in Apple’s 1984 ad. “Listen only to me, I know best, don’t think for yourself.”

You really DO become that which you fight against i guess…

geoduck

?Flash does not work on mobile?

I guess Pogue must hav been dreaming:
http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/10/07/testing-videos-on-cellphones-with-flash/#more-2951

Or this reviwer that found it terrible
Or this review
Or this one

The Flash plug in has been reviewed by multiple independent people and found severely wanting.

The Iphone Packager in Flash Professional, Air runtime for Android in the Android marketplace right now (launched today), the HTML5 extensions for Illustrator and Dreamweaver, device central in CS5 must all just be in my imagination. Oh wait-they are are all installed on my Macbook Pro allowing me to code for mobile platforms right now.

Those are products for regular computing that make content for mobile. That’s a very different thing. I would never and have never said that Adobe does not make great products for content creation. What they don’t have is a suite of products for content creation on a mobile device or much for viewing on a mobile device. That’s what I meant by Mobile-Space.

I’d expect within a couple of years that Adobe will have tools for mobile computing. Photoshop Elements, is available for the iPad, why not Illustrator. Move the Creative Suite over. Dreamweaver. They’ve got good people. They just have to solve the problems. The HTML5 plugins you mentioned are a good example of the direction they are heading. That’s how Adobe can do well in this new world of mobile computing; by making products that work both on and with mobile systems, not just iOS, but Android too. A merger with Microsoft won’t do that. A merger with Microsoft will stick them in the backwater and reduce their relevance.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

The Flash plug in has been reviewed by multiple independent people and found severely wanting.

I’m getting the feeling that there are many “older” people on these boards. I’m a month away from 40, so I know what it’s like to stare old age in the face, believe me! One of the things they say old people should do is keep their brains active. Puzzles are good, so doing that Sudoku every night is a start, but the research shows that variety and challenging, new experiences are key.

Since getting Flash player in my phone’s browser… I know, you’re all jealous because until you throw your walker of the walls of Steve Jobs garden, you can only dream about having Flash in your phone’s browser. Anyway, I’ve discovered Kongregate.com, and a whole bunch of free mobile optimized Flash games. Yesterday evening, I discovered Pipe It Mobile. And while playing Pipe It for 30 minutes or so, I figured out a solution to something that’s been tossing in my mind for a good month. When I was 30, those solutions came easy, but now they are more difficult and usually seem a lot more nuanced.

I’ll probably never play Pipe It again. I’ll certainly recommend it, even to friends who can’t play it because their garden-master won’t let them. Maybe the developer will package it with AIR and offer to sell it to them for a few bucks. That would be OK too, but a couple bucks every night can buy a lot of denture cream.

Ethan

Geoduck-your first two links went to the same article which was a link to the laptop review guy. The third was using a beta version back at the end of May. Pogue was using the final released version of the player. So it’s Pogue vs Laptop magazine (both were on the final release). The truth is probably somewhere in between and will vary user to user within a range (that’s mine).

In the end I do think there is room for improvement with the Flash Player on mobile devices. 10.1 is a great start and my own experience is that it is quite good at playback (when my network connection doesn’t die on me). I do think we’ll see flash developers start to think in terms of mobile when working on their content in the next year. With that I think their flash websites/apps will get even better with optimizations in AS3 and various libraries like Flex. Just like many sites will rework their html to not rely on rollover flyout menus and other pointer driven effects. We are all adapting to the mobile world.

You stated in the first post that Adobe had no mobile solutions, then in the second post to clarify (that you meant mobile content creation solutions) you used Adobe’s Photoshop Express as an example of a good mobile app start by them. So is Photoshop Express considered mobile or not? It felt like you were disproving your first point.

jfbiii

If they want to fight Apple they could start by making products the use of which didn’t compare unfavorably to getting kicked in the balls.

geoduck

So it?s Pogue vs Laptop magazine (both were on the final release). The truth is probably somewhere in between and will vary user to user within a range (that?s mine).

Ok I missed that. My bad. You’re correct though, the truth likely falls somewhere in between and Flash on Mobile has significant room for improvement. IMO it could be improved on regular computing too. It’s still one of the major sources for TroubleTickets coming into my office; Flash either conflicting or not working right.

So is Photoshop Express considered mobile or not? It felt like you were disproving your first point.

Perhaps ‘no mobile solutions’ was a bit strong. Flash Express has a mobile version, you can get it from the AppStore. However, one major app and an iffy plugin is far short of where they need to be. They have tools for creating for mobile but they’re behind the curve when it comes to creating on mobile. I suspect that the iPad caught them off guard. A phone doesn’t strike me as a good platform for photo editing or creating illustrations or web pages. The iPad and other tablets could be.

In a couple of years I suspect this whole Apple-Adobe spat will be long forgotten. By then Apple will have upgraded the iPad and possibly added a couple more models. Adobe will have many more tools for tablet computing, and Microsoft will be sitting on WinMob7 wondering where the parade went.

xmattingly

Thanks, x! Jeff makes most of our graphics, and the ideas come from both of us.? I made this one, but only because Jeff was seeing a Hubble movie in 3D at an IMAX theater, the rat bastard!

If he had made it, it would have matched a little better.

Well, the message got across and it worked well - it was good to see a humorous angle to this rumor. Good stuff! 

Adobe has to know that the product of such a merger will be run by Ballmer. This guarantees it will be a disaster.

Actually, if they want a guaranteed disaster, they’ll call in The Master of Disaster, The Devourer of Planets: Roz Ho.

MS has Silverlight. They don?t need Flash or any of the other Adobe web products.

That might be true, but remember that Adobe bought Macromedia to acquire Flash, and very quickly discontinued their competing product LiveMotion. I predict that MS would dump Silverlight faster than you can say “Plays For Sure”.

Bryan Chaffin

...remember that Adobe bought Macromedia to acquire Flash, and very quickly discontinued their competing product LiveMotion. I predict that MS would dump Silverlight faster than you can say ?Plays For Sure?.

I agree with this, I think SilverLight would get the heave-ho.

And, believe it or not, I think Flash would likely get cleaned up a bit under Microsoft’s stewardship.

Seriously.

Intruder

And, believe it or not, I think Flash would likely get cleaned up a bit under Microsoft?s stewardship.

Ahh, but would they then try to lock it to Windows and Win7 Phone and block out the competition?

That would be a very Ballmeresque thing to do.

vpndev

This of course would be much more interesting had Microsoft actually become two companies ten years ago, as ordered in the antitrust suit. That was overturned on appeal, of course, but it’s intriguing to wonder what it might have become.

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