Daniel Eran Dilger in San Francisco
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Will Microsoft Buy Adobe to rival Apple?

Daniel Eran Dilger

Hello readers, sorry for the long hiatus. I hit pause to enjoy life a bit. But now I’m digesting a story that is causing me to gag: that Microsoft and Adobe are going to battle Apple together in 2010 by resurrecting the 1990s.
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The idea is that Microsoft was discovered to be holding talks with Adobe, and therefore the worlds biggest software company was imminently prepared (obviously!) to swallow the wildly overvalued conjoined twins of Adobe and Macromedia.

Why? To battle Apple of course, because how else do you take on a successful smartphone platform other than combining the worst mobile operating system available with the least efficient mobile app platform in the world, one that only exists for Android and then only works halfway on a few models of Android-based devices.

The only good thing about a Microsoft acquisition of Adobe is that it would almost certainly trigger the dismissal of CEO Steve Ballmer. Why? I’m so glad you asked, because the premise of this piece is to explain why.

Mergers are not wonderful

For starters, I’d like to point out that while oxymoronic “conventional wisdom” holds that the solution to any corporate problem is to merge with another company, the opposite is often the case. Very rarely do you have a merger of two large companies that does anything but fail or marginally survive.

The best example of a good tech merger was Apple’s acquisition of NeXT, but that was more of a reverse takeover of a well positioned but ineptly run large company by a struggling but talented management pool of a relatively small company.

Microsoft may well play the role of a well positioned but ineptly run large company, but Adobe doesn’t offer any sort of talented management, nor even the futuristic technology along the lines that NeXT provided to Apple back in 1997. A merger of the two would be more like American Airlines buying Amtrak.

Why OS X is on the iPhone, but not the PC

Flash is dying as quickly as Microsoft’s PCs

What Adobe offers is Flash, a development environment based on JavaScript but not well suited in its present form to run on the devices of the future: smartphones and tablets. Flash was designed to run on full sized PCs running a conventional mouse-based windowing environment, the same thing Microsoft’s Windows has always been aimed at. Neither are capable of running well on ARM-based mobile devices with limited resources and touch-based interfaces.

Billions could be invested in making Flash better, but the industry at large has already determined that it’s a better bet to throw capital at HTML5, a portfolio of open specifications that aren’t owned and managed by a single entity with specific goals that don’t align with most other entities in the tech world. Apple has accumulated the most flack for not being foolish in this regard, but most other companies are doing the same thing without the ignorant criticism (because they lack the ability to sell news as anti-Apple reports do).

A lot of people who are invested in Flash don’t like this reality, but failing to believe in obvious realities has never resulted in anything good. Flash is dead, and even those who seem to be advocating it (including Google and others who appear to be backing Flash as a frenemy in optimistic attempts to hold back Apple’s juggernaut iOS platform) have clear reasons not to be interested in pushing Flash long term, particularly once HTML5 begins to gain traction everywhere.

What about Microsoft? Is it the exception to this rule, given the dramatic failure of Windows Mobile, the embarrassing face-plant of KIN, and its struggling efforts to establish Windows Phone 7 in a world already oversaturated with better mobile products? Will Microsoft pick up Flash and fund it as an alternative to Apple’s Cocoa Touch?

Why Apple is betting on HTML 5: a web history

Dinosaurs eating each other

Adobe’s Flash-motivated acquisition of Macromedia in 2006 for $3.4 billion was curious at best, but at the time Adobe was struggling to earn a web presence and tie its print apps (Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign) into a stronger suite that could better target the web.

Being able to absorb the only other significant vendor of creative apps was not only a reasonably good addition for Adobe; it was also a major subtraction of competition. This was enabled by the right wing currents blowing in America at the time, which were openly fostering the consolidation of oligarchies at the expense of the competitive, entrepreneurial marketplace of small players that once made the country great.

We now have the product of a decade of pro-consolidation, anti-regulation public policy: banks and massive corporations control the government and entertain the middle class with the notion that they should give up any demand for “socialist” benefits in exchange for providing multinational monopolies with the freedom to pay low wages, syphon their profits into tax shelters, and pay no regard to any sort of environmental issues or invest anything into the proper education and critical infrastructure of the nation.

Rather than bringing significant visible change, President Obama has since focused on making lots of invisible progress that hasn’t suitably entertained the middle class, prompting them to threaten to bring back to power the party of John Boener, who shamelessly handed out campaign checks from the tobacco industry on the House floor.

With the abject failure of the American government all but certain, one can only hope that something other than the failed “government of the people” can survive the collapse of the massive dinosaurs created under President Bush, something both Microsoft and Adobe represent: companies that are too large, poorly focused, complacent, and simply unable to compete outside of areas where they hold a monopoly lock on competition.

That something is entrepreneurial, smaller companies that make decisions with capital that benefit their customers and suppliers as well as themselves. Apple is a big company in terms of net worth, but it’s somewhere around a third the size of Microsoft in terms of employees, and many of Apple’s workers are retail staff. Apple acts and thinks like a thin, lean, small company despite its billions in the bank and its massive growth. Adobe and Microsoft act like elderly, obese queens resting on the laurels of their past glories.

No, Microsoft is not going to buy Flash

Today, one could be forgiven for thinking that Microsoft might swallow up Adobe, given all the effusively megamerger-positive drivel that the nation has wallowed in for so long. Merging major companies is like peanut butter and chocolate, right? Well not exactly.

For starters, Microsoft already has a Flash of its own: Mobile .Net / Silverlight, which is based on the same stuff Microsoft has been pushing to modernize Windows on the PC beyond Win32. Buying Flash would be more ridiculous than buying Danger and then converting its Java-based OS to WinCE. Or buying HotMail and WebTV and replacing their Solaris underpinnings with WinNT. And those things were all very ridiculous.

Microsoft’s Pink/Danger backup problem blamed on Roz Ho
Windows XP Media Center Edition vs Apple TV

Mobile .Net is already the foundation of Microsoft’s any-day-now WP7. Microsoft not only has no need for Flash, but it actively dislikes Flash and has positioned Silverlight to replace it both on the desktop PC and in its mobile devices (at some point, and very optimistically).

People who think Apple really “hates” Flash should clue into the reality that Apple doesn’t have an alternative Flash clone that it’s pushing, like Microsoft. Instead, Apple is just betting on HTML5, something Google and Microsoft and everyone else is also doing. Microsoft really hates Flash, it just isn’t upfront about it.

The only reason for Microsoft to buy Flash would be to waste vast billions of dollars for nothing. The rest of Adobe’s apps would compete against the ineffectual creative suite that Microsoft put together, then gave up on.

If Microsoft really wanted to be in the creative apps businesses, buying Adobe would be a very cost-ineffective way to not make money. However, there is no sensical reason for Microsoft to spend its money buying Adobe, as opposed to say, buying back more shares in admission that the best thing the company can do with its money is give it back to its shareholders.

Why Steve Jobs Loves Adobe Flash — RoughlyDrafted Magazine
Windows Phone 7: Microsoft’s third failed attempt to be Apple

What does Microsoft really want?

Instead, Microsoft is desperate for frenemies in its effort to rival Apple. It would like to have Adobe prepare Flash for WP7 at Adobe’s own expense just to give Microsoft’s new phone platform both a bullet point and a competitive distinction with Apple’s iOS, even though having a shoddy beta-quality Flash runtime isn’t exactly making the Google Nexus One stand out as a must have, discontinued Android phone.

Microsoft would also love to have Adobe drop Flash and push Silverlight, although the best it could ask for would perhaps be for Adobe to add Silverlight export to its Flash tools, similar to the iPhone Cocoa Touch export Adobe delivered, only to be rebuffed by Apple initially. This would enable Flash developers to poop out WP7 “apps” from Adobe’s tools, giving WP7 at least the illusion that it has some software available.

In exchange, Microsoft could offer to promote Flash in the lying sort of way that it once suggested that Windows would run OS/2 apps, or that Office on the Mac would ever be decently good again. That is, a visible show of support for Adobe’s Flash platform, even if it’s really just a hollow pretense that covers up Microsoft’s real intention to push Silverlight instead. That sort of thing is Microsoft’s core competency.

As for Adobe, investors are signaling that the best hope for the company is to have any another company of any kind take the time to talk with it, recalling the Rodney Dangerfield line about a kid being so ugly they had to hang a bone around his neck just to get the dog to play with him. Imagine how Adobe’s stock would jump if Apple ever bothered to discuss the future with it.

80 comments

1 iLogic { 10.08.10 at 9:08 am }

Daniel,

It’s great to have you back! Great interpretation of the situation, I also thought it was just a stunt to shake someone booties, but seriously such a costly merger would not capable of INNOVATION.

2 gus2000 { 10.08.10 at 9:16 am }

“A merger of the two would be more like American Airlines buying Amtrak.”

I’m picturing a train. With wings. Running Flash.

3 wings { 10.08.10 at 9:28 am }

“Hello readers, sorry for the long hiatus. I hit pause to enjoy life a bit.”

Ahah! I knew there was a female involved.

4 ericgen { 10.08.10 at 10:18 am }

Welcome back!!! You’re observations are always missed when you’re not around.

Hope you got lots of rest and recreation on your ‘hiatus’ and had a lot of fun!!!

5 kerryb { 10.08.10 at 10:18 am }

Thanks Dan for putting your perspective on the latest high tech soap. However I’m not sure the heads at Adobe and Microsoft like be called “old queens”.

6 lmasanti { 10.08.10 at 11:12 am }

1) “What if” Apple buys Adobe. It is a 15B purchase… like 25% of the money at hand for Apple.

2) Ars has a nice analysis too.
Microsoft buying Adobe would fix both companies’ Ap

7 ChuckO { 10.08.10 at 2:23 pm }

I don’t care if they won’t ever do it I’m going to spend the weekend dreaming of:
Microsoft + Nokia + Adobe = The quick end of 3 deadbeats!

Here’s a little quote from the head of Verizon:

“Microsoft is not at the forefront of our mind.”

“I can’t really say which phones we’ll offer yet. We like our relationship with Microsoft. But clearly in the U.S. there are three major mobile operating systems: RIM, Google and Apple.”

Great to have you back and a great post to start back on!

8 Ronin { 10.08.10 at 2:35 pm }

Daniel,

Hope you enjoyed your break but the Verizon iPhone stupidity has exploded in your absence.

Could you please give this topic your usually treatment and parse all the nonsense we’ve been hearing and reading about this?

Thanks!

9 samgreen { 10.08.10 at 2:51 pm }

“premise” or “promise”?

10 pixelkisser { 10.08.10 at 2:56 pm }

Although Adobe CS5 for video is by all accounts leaving Apple’s Final Cut Pro for dust; screamingly faster and more hardware optimised for Apple Kit than even Apple’s offerings. Apple do need to shift their a$$es in the creative field or they’ll lose ground big time….

11 World Wide News Flash { 10.08.10 at 3:06 pm }

Will Microsoft Buy Adobe to rival Apple? — RoughlyDrafted Magazine…

I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

12 John E { 10.08.10 at 3:23 pm }

aw, Dan, you picked a softball to knock outa the park for your first return at bat. come on, take a swing at a Lincecum sinker …

like how about WinPhone 7? DOA? i’d say so … unless the cut a deal with Nokia to replace the dying Symbian – and i bet they do!

13 alansky { 10.08.10 at 3:24 pm }

Microsoft couldn’t rival Apple if they bought the U.S. Mint. There isn’t enough money in the world to turn Microsoft into a worthy Apple competitor. The only thing Microsoft can accomplish by buying Adobe is to destroy Adobe’s products, which are already on shaky enough ground as it is. Adobe has been resting on its laurels for way too long and is riding for a fall.

14 The Mad Hatter { 10.08.10 at 4:20 pm }

Microsoft has four years to go before they file for Chapter 11 (in my estimation).

Since they visited Adobe, it seems that someone at Microsoft might agree with me, and is looking for outside (frenemie) support. I dis agree with Daniel – Microsoft could buy Adobe. Someone would be willing to lend Microsoft the money that they needed. Of course whether they’d ever get the money back is a different thing.

I don’t think Microsoft can justify buying Adobe to themselves. They can however try to take advantage of any free press that they can get.

15 7wed { 10.08.10 at 4:36 pm }

Good to hear you’re back Dan, as someone commented in your last post, there was concern you’d had another bike crash. Good analysis as always, I was surprised hearing the M$/Adobe merger talks but you explain the circumstances and that makes sense to me.

Ta,

Ross

16 brew57 { 10.08.10 at 7:16 pm }

I think that political rant really detracts from your writing.

Why diss windows 7 mobile? By all accounts it’s is looking to be a strong competitor.

17 Lordsqueegee { 10.08.10 at 7:45 pm }

I’m sitting there drinking a Sam Adams ” Octoberfest” when i came across the ” A merger of the two would be more like American Airlines buying Amtrak” and just about blew the entire mouth full on my iMac screen…… Very funny, excellent observation as always.

First time poster….. longtime reader ( Pleasanton, CA)

18 The Mad Hatter { 10.08.10 at 7:52 pm }

brew57,

Because Windows Mobile 7 is too little, too late. Microsoft needed to deliver it in 2007 if they wanted to retain market share. Microsoft was a player at one point in the mobile market, but they’ve so totally messed things up that I expect it will gain less than 5% of the market.

19 broadbean { 10.08.10 at 8:54 pm }

Rather looking forward to WP7. Sink or swim, at least it’s no clone.

20 brew57 { 10.08.10 at 10:11 pm }

@ THE Mad Hattter

>>Because Windows Mobile 7 is too little, too late.

They are late, but may not be too late to take major market share. I remember Android being similarly dismissed just this summer, and we all know how that story is playing out. All indications are so far that Windows 7 Mobile is a very strong offering, a lot cleaner and more consistent then Android. And one can’t deny the development, OEM, and marketing mussel that MS is bringing to the party. It is foolish to dismiss it out of hand like that at this point. My bet, is that it will take major share, mostly at the expense of Android, RIM, and Nokia, and a bit at the expense of Apple.

21 Dafydd Williams { 10.08.10 at 11:26 pm }

Welcome back, Dan. It’s good to see you. :)

22 cy_starkman { 10.09.10 at 1:43 am }

Nice to read your stuff again Dan, even better to hear that the lack of it has been due to getting some life and not something horrid.

Thanks for saying the obvious, Silverlight. Pundits seem to made of play doh, just poke a quick hole in which ever bit doesn’t suit today’s spin.

23 Chris99 { 10.09.10 at 3:43 am }

There’s a reason Microsoft product is called Windows Phone ’07.

Dan, I agree that the political rant detracts. Otherwise I love your writings.

24 radumas { 10.09.10 at 8:41 am }

No, a merger between MS and Adobe makes no business or market sense and the meeting was likely an attempt at a conspiracy or just a PR stunt, however, you should never underestimate the idiocy of American executives when it comes to mergers.

Dumber things have happened.

25 harrywolf { 10.09.10 at 10:23 am }

Windows phone 7 is destined to fail.
It’s not a phone, it’s software. It will be put on all kinds of crappy plastic phones with logos all over it and buttons and what have you.

Don’t underestimate the crass and tediously dull minds that run most large companies.

As for Microsoft’s ‘marketing mussel (sic)’ – you are joking, right?

26 kreatre2010 { 10.09.10 at 12:36 pm }

Your articles have always been very entertaining, and informative. I just wish that you would leave the politics out of them. You and I both share a love of Apple technology, and a disdain for Microsoft. However, your political references really don’t have much relevance in a tech article. You would do well to remember that Apple experienced its initial rise to success with a Republican president in office, and a huge surge during the administration of another Republican president. It would seem that Democrats aren’t very good for business.

[Think about why you like Apple and dislike Microsoft, and you might realize it's because Apple is (currently) entrepreneurial and progressive, while Microsoft is monopolizing and regressive. I don't think your problem with my references to political context is due to a "lack of relevance" but rather just a difference in viewpoint. Which is fine, but be honest.

And while we're being honest, Apple's sharpest rise occurred not under Reagan but under Carter, as the company's IPO in 1980 "instantly created more millionaires (about 300) than any company in history," shortly BEFORE Reagan even took office. The company when from zero to $1.7 billion in capitalization (or $4.5 billion in today's dollars).

Apple began work on the Mac during the Reagan years using vast millions it had earned under President Carter, but failed to do much else. Its stock did suffer through two recessions caused by Reagonomics: one in 1983 and another downturn in 1987. Through the Reagan years, Apple only appreciated 130%, and under 4 years of Bush Sr, the company's valuation only climbed another less than 80%.

While conservative CEO John Sculley began offering dividends and split the stock, his short term cash-and-grab mentality killed what Jobs had built, and by 1985, it expelled Jobs himself. Apple continued to flounder until 1997 when it brought back Jobs under PResident Clinton, who presided over the longest period of peace-time economic expansion in American history.

Under Bush II, consolidation and monopolization of markets under big, unregulated corporations became public policy, resulting in the economic mess that Obama inherited. Apple and its rich employees have benefited from tax giveaways to the ultra rich that Bush II initiated, but the company has not benefitted from the failure of America that resulted from Bush II's policies promoting the shift of wealth overseas. And now, Apple is finding most of its growth and success overseas while the US crumples, bridges fall down, and education here has become a sad joke.

Apple represents is what is uniquely great about America: entrepreneurial thinking and a diverse workforce that brings the world's best efforts and ideas together. But it's no longer an American institution, because "American" now means ignorant, racist, and stupid.

I realize that conservatives loathe facts, but if you try thinking for yourself you will enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that what you believe is based on the best available information you have available, and not just garbage being fed to you by the ultra rich through their entertainment stations and hate radio.

Of course, that will also transform you a liberal progressive rather than a conservative regressive. - Dan]

27 brew57 { 10.09.10 at 1:15 pm }

>>I realize that conservatives loathe facts

Wow. I guess half the country loath facts, I suppose. Why so discredit your otherwise credible and well written tech articles with partisan statements like this?

[Conservatives are not "half the country." Only about 20% of Americans are blind Tea Party affluent white fundamentalists. And only a very small percentage actually benefit from the policies of the Rich White Party. The vast majority of Americans don't bother to vote, and of those who do, Republicans are still the minority.

That's why they need a 24/7 propaganda TV station designed to mislead the critical swing independent voters, who have largely been convinced that Obama is Muslim, the recession didn't start until years after it actually did, God can't fight his own wars via miracles anymore, and that profligate spending by Bush on a $4 trillion war and a $1 tax rebate to the ultra wealthy is immaterial while billion dollar critical infrastructure projects are "wasteful" ways to create jobs and build the nation.

I don't think you should call me partisan, as I'm not all that impressed with the Democrat Party either, it's just that they're more boring and ineffectual than evil and disasterous - Dan]

28 Chris99 { 10.09.10 at 3:58 pm }

Dan, please just stick to tech.

29 Geoduck { 10.09.10 at 6:57 pm }

A very good analyses of the question. It would be bad for both parties, but worse for Adobe. It would do significant damage to MS but Adobe would cease to exist.

On the politics?
Absolutely dead on and essential to the narrative. It is the conservative, what’s good for General Dynamics and Exxon/Moble is good for the country no matter how many dead they leave in their wake attitude is the cause of the current downturn. It’s the reason that MS was not broken up a decade ago, a move that would have resulted in a stronger platform and industry. It is the reason that while the 20th century was “The American Century” the 21st will not be. The US is in the position England was after WWI: exhausted, bankrupt, and living on past glories. It’s the reason the US has lost its national entrepreneurial spirit.

30 afternoonsandwich { 10.09.10 at 8:45 pm }

Dan,

Good analysis of the situation between Microsoft and Adobe. Microsoft is AGAIN shedding projects. It is just a matter of time for Ballmer.

In reading your article I sensed you were a little on edge in a way that normally does not comes across in your writing. At first I believed it was maybe a personal situation and that helped explain your absence. However, in reading your reaction to comments it now seems you are letting the situation in the nation’s political arena affect your mood and your writing.

Keep the balance… we need your thoughtful analysis.

31 brew57 { 10.09.10 at 9:42 pm }

Stinking lying conservatives notwidstanding (down with Bush! Long live George Soros and Nancy Pelosi…)

…I think a MS purchase of Adobe can actually make a lot of sense for Microsoft. Although the purchase is not likely to happen.

Even at a 30% premium to the current ADBE market price, MS, for a $20b investment, will get about $1b in reliable free cash flow – a 5% return on its cash. So just on the financials alone, this is better than what Microsoft’s idle cash is now earning in short term instruments.

And for that price, MS will get a strategic asset – an creative equivalent of the “Office Suite”. This would add and another powerful lever to support MS monopoly.

As for the dying Flash (I see a lot of these dead spots all over the internet when I brows on my iPad and iPhone), I am sure MS can figure out how to rationalize Flash vs Silverlight or perhaps merge them together. Hey, if they could figure out how make Flash work reliably for mobile browsing on Windows7 Mobile, that would give them a huge weapon against iPhone and Android. But even if Flash is truly dead, the creative suite alone is worth the purchase price.

So the purchase price would be modest, and the market benefits to MS would be huge just operating Adobe as a standalone sub.

The only reason they probably won’t purchase is the US and EU Antitrust scrutiny.

32 vaporland { 10.09.10 at 10:55 pm }

RE: dissing Office 4 Mac, Office 2011 is rather nice. I can finally get rid of Windows on my Mac at work…

33 vaporland { 10.09.10 at 11:05 pm }

PS – I don’t mind the politics. This country was a democracy before corporate interests reduced discourse to a smoking hole in the ground.

Regarding the remark “half the country loath(es) facts” – it’s been obvious for a while that MOST of the country is clueless, and that watching TV & listening to radio makes you stupid.

The powers that be love to watch the right and left go at it, because it distracts us from the truth, that there is no spoon…

34 Techflaws.org { 10.10.10 at 12:28 am }

Welcome back, Daniel.

35 Chris99 { 10.10.10 at 3:19 am }

Half the country loathes facts, and the other half loves to make them up!

[I think everyone loves to make things up. But it's more entertaining for me to point to noncontroversial facts and laugh at the people who refuse to believe the obvious truth. - Dan]

36 The Mad Hatter { 10.10.10 at 3:54 am }

Vaporland,

IWork is better in my opinion, and a hell of a lot cheaper. I use it to run my business.

37 Stephen { 10.10.10 at 5:20 am }

Perhaps the meet was just so MS could break the news to Adobe that Flash is too unstable to be bundled with Win Phone 7?

38 rufustfirefly { 10.10.10 at 5:45 am }

Fidel – it’s great to have you back.

[Palin - it pains me to hear your ignorant, substance-free personal attacks. - Dan]

39 jdeleon { 10.10.10 at 9:53 am }

I have always thought (at least recently) that the only real competitors
for Apple would have been Steve Jobs and his guys from NEXT.
Apple definitely was on the way out when S.Jobs was brought back on board. But even him by himself would have really struggled without NEXT. (I believe the Internet as we know it would not have appeared
without it being available).
In the long run, it was probably good for Jobs also to have been humbled by Apple.
Even though it would have been interesting to have seen how things
would have played out. Pixar was still sold and the Disney position and money did happen without Apple. It would have been interesting.

One last thing. It would be funny if after all the Patent Wars that are about to start blazing soon. Android maybe suffering the wrath of
Ellison. Apple itself could be in some kinda of problem, (they just recently lost out on patent case). What if Microsoft (they seem to be a little smarter than others, paying for Patent infringement) and also
maybe even HP/WebOS could see their future a whole lot brighter in the near future. (Still think that Ballmer has to go though.)

40 Dorotea { 10.10.10 at 12:43 pm }

Glad to see you back.

A previous poster really mocked Nokia. I believe they do great fundamental research… Go look at their thousands of very technical patents. They just aren’t good at creating great or even good smart phones.

41 Mike { 10.10.10 at 12:53 pm }

I have to say, you’re spot on for tech and politics this time around. I go to college at UCI, and frankly what I see around me is a joke. budget cuts everywhere, tuition rising, this is education? The more tuition rises, the less affordable and less benefits to cost ratio that college presents. And don’t get me started on how lousy most high schools are, with pretty poor test scores from unmotivated students, even if the teachers are great.

What this country needs is a deux ex machina, and we don’t have one to take care of the problems in health care, education, and the general failings of the government in general. All the Republicans seem to keep saying are tax breaks, without any of the consequences of what would happen without the benefits of taxes. Social security would be gone, public education as we know it wouldn’t be high-quality, it would be a sad state of affairs. For what exactly? So that the rich can go and plunder the nation for profits short-term and move overseas when things get bad? (or so they hope.)

anyway, great article, it was far better reasoning than the microsoft fanboy on ars technica trying to justify why microsoft and adobe should merge together. just one thing… you didn’t mention the many failed mergers as evidence of why mergers in general are a bad idea… mergers like hp and compaq, palm and hp (not seeing any results from that one either), intel and mcafee (i still don’t get why mcafee is still alive after all these years with such terrible software), seagate and veritas, symantec and veritas… even oracle and sun has its pitfalls.

42 Mike { 10.10.10 at 1:02 pm }

as for the guy who said that microsoft and adobe are better off merging because microsoft would get its “creative” office suite.

i’m a bit confused by this statement because that would mean windows doesn’t have adobe’s photoshop and other creative apps on it, whereas in reality it does. the merger wouldn’t really bring anything to the table that microsoft doesn’t already have if it partners with adobe. and partnering is much less expensive.

unless you were thinking that microsoft would buy adobe to “get back” at apple by forcing adobe to stop production of mac applications. but this would be a little like shooting themselves in the foot, because half of adobe’s customers are mac users. and they’re not likely to abandon their computers just to use adobe’s (well, microsoft’s) software.

so well done microsoft, you devalue adobe’s net worth by half while buying them out overvalued to begin with. i see a great business opportunity here *sarcasm*

43 airmanchairman { 10.10.10 at 4:01 pm }

Hit the ground running as usual, and not a moment too soon. Welcome back, and glad to see that you’re oblivious as to whose toes you tread on in the search for the hard facts of truth-saying.

I know of no other tech analyst that even attempts to relate the “big picture” of the socio-economic and political climate to the goings on in Silicon Valley, it’s as if you are the only one that realises the simple inevitable fact of the interconnectedness of everything.

Sadly, in the build-up to the historic US elections, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that the “Obamacan Revolution” was eventually going to break your heart, but then no amount of half-hearted sloganeering was ever going to extricate the US economy and social climate from its horrendous state of decline, inertia, paranoia and intolerance.

I still think Microsoft has a fair chance of being the main threat to Apple’s imperious dominance of the modern mobile computing sector, Android or no Meego. They have the war chest, the industry connections and human resource potential to scale the enterprise. But this Adobe hobnobbing does not convince me that they have worked out the strategy to do it.

It may well be that they are simply getting as many developer eyeballs trained on their upcoming platform via some kind of Flash-to-Silverlight export as you suggest, which would also give them that almost-meaningless bullet-point of differentiation from iOS.

However I still maintain that Microsoft is the rival to be watched carefully, whose threat will need to be countered astutely by Apple in the months and years to come.

Once again, welcome back to the fray.

44 macsdounix { 10.10.10 at 5:05 pm }

Hi Dan,
Although we tend to disagree politically, I usually don’t mind your political commentary. And, in truth, I don’t mind the commentary in this column. However, I challenge some of your comments to the comments. Please show us your “facts” in the column. Please back up these “facts” with, you know, actual, real-life facts.
As with the right-wingers, your tendency is to offer your feelings and opinions and suggest that said feelings and opinions constitute fact. It is not so with Glenn Beck; it is not so with Dan Dilger.
I hope life is treating you well.

45 berult { 10.10.10 at 6:03 pm }

I can see Paris cast a spell on you.

A good analyst is foremost a deeply connected one, not a well connected one. Intuition and clear-sightedness germinate in an enriched, thoroughly irrigated mindset.

Apple is Historical, Political, Sociological, Philosophical, Micro-Economics, Macro-Economics, empirical, theoretical, quarterly, annually, bi-annually, this afternoon and next Christmas, Shanghai and downtown Toledo; it is fueled by breathing, path finding souls like you and me, …”Souls unlimited”.

A credible analyst is a deeply connected one. And Politics has everything to do with it.

46 primerib { 10.10.10 at 7:24 pm }

Daniel welcome back! Hope you had a good time on your vacation. So… after all the suggestions from your readers, which stops did you finally end up making on your European trip?

47 brew57 { 10.10.10 at 10:11 pm }

>>A credible analyst is a deeply connected one. And Politics has everything to do with it.

Well, of course politics has everything to do with tech. Isn’t it obvious?

– It is the fact-denying Regan and Bush’s government and that one conservative propaganda TV channel that that gave rise to the massive dinosaurs known as Microsoft and Adobe.

– and Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and President Obama’s farsighted invisible changes in the face of the lying conservatives that gave rise to the genius that is Apple and its superior products.

Everyone, can see this connection, of course.

48 fricfrac { 10.11.10 at 5:51 am }

@brew57
@Chris99
@kreatre2010
et al
C’mon guys, pay attention – this is Dan we’re talking about. He rides a bike and probably eats the tarmac miles before breakfast, then puts the world to rights with a sharper wit than any blogger anywhere. Cut the politics? the vitriol? the jeremiadic haranguing tirades? What would be left? What would be the point?

Oh, I forgot, welcome back Dan and remember that there are places in the world where a spade is a ‘bloody shovel’
‘scuse me, off for a ride on my almost vintage Hailwood Replica Duc

49 ChuckO { 10.11.10 at 6:29 am }

@kreatre2010,
If you Republican’s (not conservatives, I consider myself conservative but am no Republican) are so right why does dissent bother you so much? Why so sensitive? Is it because 30 years of Republican’s has been such a massive failure for the country? I love how you guys are so into the constitution as long as no one exorcises those rights.
Keep clinging to the ideology dude!

50 SkyTree { 10.11.10 at 7:50 am }

Payback Time:

As I see it, in simple terms, and partly thanks to Dan’s insights, many years ago, Adobe took a bet, that Apple would fail, and hitched all of their successful products to technologies that worked first on Windows and secondarily on the Mac.

Adobe lost that bet, but thanks to the success of Mac OS X, Adobe was able to hang on to its Mac customers. Flash and Android are essentially side issues – Adobe makes money selling Creative Suite software, and the creative software needs desktop platforms to work on, which means Mac OSX or Windows.

Apple has been gradually introducing software that duplicates some of the functionality of Adobe products, by acquisitions and by extending the capabilities of the iLife consumer media suite. None of these products are yet capable of replacing Adobe’s Creative line, but many of them look like becoming pretty close pretty soon.

Which means, Adobe can expect little sympathy when it talks to Apple.

What more could Adobe CEO Narayen’s expect from his latest discussion with Microsoft CEO Ballmer? “Adobe would be really successful right now if Apple had failed like you said it would when we sided with Microsoft, so you owe me big time, Steve”. “Yeah well Apple would have failed like we said it would when Adobe sided with us, but a few things got screwed up along the way and some of them are our fault and some of them are your fault, but we like the way Adobe is suffering more than Microsoft and that is a position we are excited about leveraging.”

My guess is that they won’t, and that Apple’s creative software, including the iPad versions, will overtake the functionality of Adobe’s Creative Suite not too long after business users accept that Apple’s office software, including the iPad versions, has overtaken the functionality of Microsoft’s Office Suite.

51 brew57 { 10.11.10 at 10:41 am }

>>Payback Time:

Well, Adobe’s management has fudiciary responsibility to its own (not Apples’s) shareholders and had to make Windows a priority at that time. At the time it sure did look like Apple was about to fail. Remember, even Steve himself hedged his bets – he dumped all of his Apple stock from the Next sale and didn’t officially come on board as a “full time” CEO until it was clear Apple was out of the woods.

So give Adobe a break. Hindsight is great. Adobe makes best of class creative software that customers love (and their share of crap also.)

52 marsviolet { 10.11.10 at 11:18 am }

Adobe hedging its bets was only the beginning. Adobe has been compromising its OS X software by tying it to the same code base as its Windows software, and blames Apple for the problems this Lowest Common Denominator Syndrome has caused, from crashing bugs which never get fixed to speed issues to terrible, non-standard installers, to faked Mac interfaces which look and feel wrong. Adobe even fakes OS X window title bars and close/minimize/zoom buttons!

Adobe isn’t even doing cocoa right. While moving kicking and screaming to a cocoa foundation, they still stubbornly refuse to use Apple’s Interface Builder to create their interfaces. Basically Adobe is lying when they claim that Photoshop is now cocoa. It’s more like half cocoa.

53 Dude { 10.11.10 at 12:07 pm }

How about those Windows Phone 7 handsets announced today?

My first reaction–why are there so many different models?

54 Ludor { 10.11.10 at 12:26 pm }

Wings (#3): Exactly my guess. Hehe.

Adobes incompetence worries me. They have such a bolted down monopoly over the graphic market. I’d be fine with it if the Creative Suite wasn’t such an unoptimized cake of layer upon layer of old code. And Brew57, well, glad you’re happy, but CS5 is best of class only in its lack of competition, I think. Soon as they glued on the Flash-based interface, it became twice as difficult to work with effectively.

An incidental, possibly symptomatic clue was the Patch Match technique Adobe Labs showed off but never included. Oh it’ll come in CS6. What is this, 3D Realms?

Would Adobe bend over for Microsoft? Likely. Would Microsoft screw Mac users over? First chance they get.

So awesomely great to read your work again, Dan. Thanks. Any pictures from your travels across the sea coming up?

55 brew57 { 10.11.10 at 1:09 pm }

@ Ludor.

Yes, let’s bash Adobe some more…it is clearly a failed dying business just like Microsoft is.

>>CS5 is best of class only in its lack of competition

Well, duh. Let those who can offer better products that Photoshop and Fireworks for the purpose, and, make money at it.

56 rufustfirefly { 10.11.10 at 1:40 pm }

All

I take Dan’s rants seriously. Anyone who objects will have SEIU thugs at their door beating the snot out of them.

Now – has anyone found any Congressman who has yet read the Health Care bill. I believe as of yesterday nobody has yet completed that effort.

57 The Mad Hatter { 10.11.10 at 1:57 pm }

There’s one major issue which no one here has addressed, and that is that the United States is in effect a One Party State. Remember, that the original Founding Fathers weren’t interested freedom, except for their freedom to make more money. The United States was founded as an Oligarchy, and it still is one today.

58 rufustfirefly { 10.11.10 at 3:54 pm }

Yes, Mad Hatter is right. The Founders created a tryrannical regime run by oil companies.

59 rufustfirefly { 10.11.10 at 4:06 pm }

The Statue of Liberty is actually a woman operating a gas pump. People from all over the world come here because they like the idea of a country run by greedy capitalist pigs, a tyranny, where minorities are oppressed and muredered in the streets by the greedy capitalist, country club right wing Cheney Halliburton Glenn Beck conservatives. That is the magnet that attracts the Mexicans here, slong with the chance to do the challenging occupations.

60 Ludor { 10.11.10 at 4:29 pm }

rufus [cont.] “… There’s also a negative side.”

Brew57: What I tried but didn’t manage to express, is that CS could be great. It’s full of tools to wreak graphical havoc, as well as to put everything in complete and total order. I love the results you can achieve with it. I just think getting there is a constant struggle against an interface that has gotten old, convoluted and unreliable.

61 The Mad Hatter { 10.11.10 at 4:40 pm }

That’s a new one about the Statue of Liberty – you shouldn’t dis that great gift from the French people that way.

As to the rest. be sarcastic. But then take a look at how the politicians in both supposed parties vote, and who their policies benefit.

The Tea Party will just be more of the same.

62 marsviolet { 10.11.10 at 4:47 pm }

Well, duh. Let those who can offer better products that Photoshop and Fireworks for the purpose, and, make money at it.

Well, duh. Cost of entry prevents better products from being developed. This is partly why Adobe lacks competition. The other reason is because Adobe bought and killed much of what competition there once was.

63 brew57 { 10.11.10 at 4:58 pm }

@ Ludor.

I get your point that Adobe s/w could be better. I use Fireworks myself, and as useful as it is, I agree, it can be greatly improved…

But not to worry, soon will come the November voter referendum, and we will have the correct party in charge which in turn will, of course, cause the great improvement in all tech products including Adobe’s :-)

64 marsviolet { 10.11.10 at 5:01 pm }

The Tea Party will just be more of the same.

Worse, actually. My brother is in this so-called Tea Party. He went from watching Rush Limbaugh for entertainment and occasionally ridiculing the Clintons to taking Glenn Beck’s crazy logical fallacies as gospel and screaming at me for supporting a “socialist” who is hell-bent on stealing his freedoms and creating a ONE WORLD GOVERNMENT. The Tea Party is composed of radicalized Republicans, white supremacists and conspiracy theorists.

65 rufustfirefly { 10.11.10 at 5:37 pm }

of course the Democrat Party is composed of Marxists, Chicago street thugs posing as politicians, Senators who marry wealthy widows (former Presidential candidate), full cabinets composed of tax cheats, guys who live with other guys who run male prostitution rings (B. Frank), buffoonish plagiarists (Joe Biden), and the biggest affirmative action poster boy (Our Fearless Leader).

66 rufustfirefly { 10.11.10 at 5:38 pm }

I forgot John Edwards. How could I forget. Campaigned on his wife having cancer.

67 marsviolet { 10.11.10 at 7:04 pm }

You could have stopped at “Marxists” because that alone invalidates your entire worldview. It’s a conclusion dependent upon a logical fallacy. Glenn Beck Logic 101.

68 rufustfirefly { 10.11.10 at 9:47 pm }

marsviolet – Actually there are plenty of Marxists in the party. Obama himself was mentored by two – his maternal grandfather and Frank Davis, a Chicago pedophile and friend of the family. This is all public knowledge, and some is even in his book. Beyond that, the Democrat partys favorite world leader is Fidel Castro. This too is common knowledge. Ask Michael Moore. Or Sean Penn. Democrats have a long history of admiration of totalitarian regimes. Like the one we have here in the US now.

69 marsviolet { 10.11.10 at 10:30 pm }

I could listen to you for hours.

70 lowededwookie { 10.11.10 at 11:17 pm }

I have to say that as someone who is the least politically minded person you’re ever likely to meet (I’m not even politically correct) even though I’m currently working in the New Zealand Parliament rubbing shoulders with the Prime Minister (well his staff I’ve never actually met the guy but I have met the Deputy PM) I have to say I kind of like Dan’s political commentary except for when he rails on Socialism and confuses it with Communism like most ignorant Americans do.

As for M$ buying mud and straw… I mean Adobe I hope it happens… then they implode and the world can move on and be free of evil.

71 ronhip { 10.12.10 at 12:05 am }

I will also add a “Welcome back” to the multitudes above (and those who follow below).

Only one issue. We don’t WANT Ballmer fired! What would we do for entertainment? What if they hired someone actually competent who could get that Redmond beast going? That would be bad for Apple…

72 brew57 { 10.12.10 at 5:39 am }

Balmer for president!

73 OlsonBW { 10.12.10 at 11:02 am }

For those of you who think Microsoft is going to get big market share with WP7 think of this. What product have they been successful with when they didn’t have a monopoly or a big company (IBM) which did have a monopoly?

As far as I know, one. xBox. I can’t think of another one.

74 marsviolet { 10.12.10 at 11:05 am }

Does the XBox actually make money now? Because for years it was a big fat billion dollar loser, successful only in that geeks were buying it for Halo.

75 gctwnl { 10.13.10 at 2:31 am }

Nice piece, Dan. Laughed out loud at the reference to Michael Dell’s “giving money back to its shareholders”.

Politically, the US is fascinating: the right wing extremists of the Democrats of the 60′s have become the Tea Party extremists of the Republicans of today. Their fanaticism and sometimes incredible beliefs from the outside resemble Al-Quaida style stupidity more than they do resemble the respectable Republicans of the time of Eisenhower. How the times have changed, Bob.

76 PhilipWing { 10.13.10 at 7:33 pm }

Despite Dan’s wishes, mergers of large companies sometimes *do* work (see American Airlines, which he noted, although it does lumber along now). They often *don’t* work either, e.g., my wife’s former employer, Thelan Reid, which was a large San Francisco-based law firm.

77 PhilipWing { 10.13.10 at 7:36 pm }

Dan, do I understand you correctly that you think small? Little companies running around, that once they decide they have complimentary strengths and want to join up, they should be handcuffed and put out of business?

78 marsviolet { 10.13.10 at 7:40 pm }

Philip, in the future you might want to refrain from interpreting what he says, and just stick to what he actually said.

79 b0wz3r { 11.19.10 at 1:27 pm }

I’m a little late to this one, and I’m sorry if I’m parroting something that’s already been said here, but I just have to say…

I know it doesn’t really make any business sense for Apple to buy Adobe, but there’s a part of me that wishes they would so SJ can personally fire their FUD spewing CEO, and the watch Microsoft shrivel up and die when he then kills all Adobe apps for Windows and makes their stuff Mac only!!! LOL!!!

80 marsviolet { 11.19.10 at 1:31 pm }

Amen to that.

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