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I, Cringely - The Survival of the Nerdiest with Robert X. Cringely
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The Pulpit
Pulpit Comments
January 11, 2008 -- End Game
Status: [CLOSED]

Gee, thanks Bob. Now that you have said it, you have wiped the new off of this story. Now Steve will have to wait until 2012 to get the new and revolutionary feel back in it.

J. Stevens | Jan 11, 2008 | 1:32PM

I was just remarking (to myself) yesterday how flash seems to be THE standard for video on today's web. Thanks for the heads up. Just bought some of adbe, on your hunch. Hope both of your tips pan out!

(Thanks for picking stocks at the first of the year.) :^)

And I can't wait to hear more about Team Cringely!

Scott | Jan 11, 2008 | 1:34PM

Not only does it make sense, I have never understood why it hasn't happened already. Especially since Adobe's acquisition of Macromedia.

I thought it would have happened *already* for exactly the reasons Bob alluded to. The deal would have raised few eyebrows two years ago.

Apple's rising power makes the deal trickier (though still not impossible by any means) with each day that passes.

Matt | Jan 11, 2008 | 1:45PM

Bob,

I've felt this coming for year. Apple simply cannot ignore the position that technology Flash brings to video market nor the high end applications like Photoshop et. al. bring to its hardware sales. Apple is ripe to pick more technologies to add to its portfolio and at present Adobe has plenty to offer.

Barnstormer | Jan 11, 2008 | 1:53PM

Why would Adobe sell?

Jim | Jan 11, 2008 | 1:58PM

"why those who think Apple will license Mac OS X to other hardware companies are simply wrong"

Didn't you say a couple years ago that Apple were going to become a software company?

David Griffiths | Jan 11, 2008 | 2:05PM

Then just do it already.

Apple should of done it one to two years ago. MS might beat them to the punch.


Tyler | Jan 11, 2008 | 2:15PM

I'd be happy if Apple would acquire Nokia or a company that makes cell phones and one that makes power adapters. Every Apple product I have purchased has had a battery and a power adapter failure. Nokia seems to have the ability to not only create a working battery that lasts for years, it also designs them to be user serviceable and authentic replacement batteries are amazingly cheap.

Can anyone imagine a world where iPods, iPhone, Apple notebooks had batteries that did not fail?

I for one hope Apple does not buy Adobe. Apple needs competition or they go soft and flabby.

Wally Glenn | Jan 11, 2008 | 2:20PM

I'd be happy if Apple would acquire Nokia or a company that makes cell phones and one that makes power adapters. Every Apple product I have purchased has had a battery and a power adapter failure. Nokia seems to have the ability to not only create a working battery that lasts for years, it also designs them to be user serviceable and authentic replacement batteries are amazingly cheap.

Can anyone imagine a world where iPods, iPhone, Apple notebooks had batteries that did not fail?

I for one hope Apple does not buy Adobe. Apple needs competition or they go soft and flabby.

Wally Glenn | Jan 11, 2008 | 2:21PM

I'm a HUGE fan of the "triumph of the nerds" documentary and was wondering when the "cya in ten years" followup was indeed coming out. CAN'T WAIT!!

Samuel | Jan 11, 2008 | 2:27PM

I for one would welcome Apple ColdFusion - especially if they dropped the price by a factor of 10 and implemented a good server package for OSX.
I know, fairly off-topic, but ColdFusion is on my mind.

Paul Thompson | Jan 11, 2008 | 2:44PM

> merging Flash and QuickTime would




Whoa there, fella, have you actually talked to anybody about that? Some engineers at Adobe or Apple maybe? It sounds like a real hastle to me with massive confusion for the consumer, a completely botched first couple of attempts, cats and dogs living together....


Dave | Jan 11, 2008 | 2:45PM

This sounds like a TERRIFIC idea. Adobe has been lousy for Apple lately and has simply atrocious installers and pricing. If Apple took over Adobe, we could say good-bye to installers that don't work, updaters that don't work, insane IP mechanisms, and prices that could only come from a monopoly. The key of course would be to ensure that Adobe software engineers were not brought directly into Apple - we don't need to re-GUI Adobe's stuff a la iMovie, iTunes, iPhoto, just make it possible to install and run it after you buy a valid license at a reasonable price.

David Zatz | Jan 11, 2008 | 2:53PM

The statement that "merging Flash and QuickTime would make any other video standards (like Windows Media) simply immaterial" shows a limited view of Flash's position in the market.

Flash is the cross-platform development environment that Java and HTML still haven't become.

The great advantage of Flash is the combination of ubiquity and uniformity - Windows, Linux, Mac all the same. If Adobe was bought by Apple the perception of that strength would be greatly (fatally?) weakened because of an assumed preference for the Apple platforms.

Apple + Adobe makes sense for Apple (or any OS vendor who stands to lose in a OS agnostic world) but it would threaten Adobe's greatest potential for growth. It would be a huge squandered opportunity just to do something that would make Apple's persistent core market (creatives) unhappy.

James Ahlschwede | Jan 11, 2008 | 2:58PM

You lost me on the last sentence. No need to inject politics where it doesn't strengthen your point, and that jibe doesn't. It only makes you look petty.

It's true that the merger would stand a better chance under W., but you took it too far for no good reason, and insulted 50% of your readership. You're better than that. Stick to the high road.

Whoa fella | Jan 11, 2008 | 2:59PM

Bob,
Here is the piece that I am missing. How does buying Adobe make Apple more money?
They already sell Mac's to run Adobe Photoshop. They can get the extra $$ for the software, I guess.
Flash and Quicktime are free downloads. If people want to do H.264 HD video either player can do the job. Flash has more market share, granted. If the movie is purchased or rented from iTunes who cares how it gets played?
I can not see restricting HD video to an Apple platform. The cat is out of the bag and not selling movies to PC users just hurts iTunes sales. Not a smart move.
It is a whole lot of money for the Flash player that does HD. It is smarter to let Adobe develop the technology then make money off of their effort by being the HD video supplier. Why spend $23B to have more software headaches?
Ego is the only answer.

Doug | Jan 11, 2008 | 2:59PM

So Bob, are you adding this to your list of predictions for 2008? Put that prognosticator's status where your mouth is man!!!

Dan | Jan 11, 2008 | 3:08PM

Completely different corporate cultures, the Adobe guys would hate it, so, the price would have to be ridiculously high - only making 5.27% interest on your cash hoard is better than throwing it away like ebay. In any case, Apple only has 15 billion, Adobe would cost at least 25, probably more like 30.

What Apple needs to do is focus on scaling up it's market share and hardware production, pushing down prices ruthlessly in order to keep punching Dell and HP while they're down. If Jobs wants to blow a few billion, he should buy a set price license from Microsoft that allows him to bundle Windows XP with every copy of OS X - let the message be that, not only is it possible to run Windows on your Mac, it will do it out of the box.

Donnacha | Jan 11, 2008 | 3:14PM

So what happens to the Adobe CS3 suite? It directly competes with Apple's video production suite, minus Photoshop. The product would have to be cancelled or cannibalize sales for the Mac. On the PC, though, Adobe CS3's video production suite doesn't compete with Final Cut Studio, so it wouldn't makes sense to cancel it from that perspective. Final Cut Studio for the PC? That won't work - as Bob was saying, it's a loss leader to bolster Mac harware sales. No matter what, the acquisition would leave them with quite a PICKLE.

will | Jan 11, 2008 | 3:19PM

Whoa fella take a chill pill. That was a jest made tongue in cheek. Are you that sensitive about W that anytime someone makes a jab at him you must stand up and shout that it is unfair or unwarranted? How you come to a 50% figure for readers is beyond me as well. There is no way that 50% of the people reading this article or virtually any article anywhere in the US support W. He is the lowest rated president in history.

Dave | Jan 11, 2008 | 3:19PM

Right now Adobe has a very strong position with it's Flash and Creative Suite products. Microsoft is desperately trying to attack that with it's products like Silver Light and Expression. Lucky for Adobe the very thing that Microsoft counts on, reluctance to change and/or trying something new, will give Adobe momentum.

Now if Apple buys Adobe and sells the Mac versions at a discount I assure you that the average creative type will easily decide to finally get a Mac when it means saving 50% or more on the critical software they need and want.

If Adobe just sits and waits in quiet desperation Microsoft will eventually eat away at Adobe's very strong position with average products foisted on the public by a massive marketing machine. So while they still matter sell to Apple giving Apple the ability to use that popularity to move more Macs then ever before.

Besides, with so many Windows users buying Macs now anyways it's a win/win/win for the consumer only hurting Microsoft.

Hal Hanson | Jan 11, 2008 | 3:24PM

Merging Flash and QuickTime is a horrible idea. Flash can handle web video well already. Let's keep the plugins small and separate.

felix | Jan 11, 2008 | 3:25PM

@Whoa fella, I think you misunderstood Bob's last line - he's saying that this sale would get caught up in red tape under the Democrats which anyone, Republican or Democrat, would agree is true, based on the differing ideologies of the parties and the clear example of recent history. Look at how the investigation of Microsoft, initiated under the Clinton administration, lost steam once the Republicans took the White House.

Bob was not expressing a bias in pointing out that a Bush, especially on his way out the door, will be easier on huge corporations than whatever Democrat takes over, that is just a fact.

Okay, yeah, the very last line, "I knew he was good for something", showed a personal bias but, let's face it, most Americans of any political persuasion realize that the last eight years have been a disaster for America.

Donnacha | Jan 11, 2008 | 3:25PM

@donnacha: You're all wrong.

@cirngely: You're making all the right arguments. I'd Apple would win great leverage with an Adobe purchase.

soothsayer | Jan 11, 2008 | 3:29PM

Interesting article. Only *one* vague insult about Steve Jobs in the whole thing which must be some kind of a record. Has Bob turned over a new leaf?



I question the Flash/Quicktime thing for a different reason. Apple has shown that Flash is a mostly irrelevant proprietary technology that it is actively trying to dissuade people from using right now. I think it more likely that Apple would kill Flash if it bought Adobe.



The biggest argument against such a merger that is not mentioned here is that Adobe's code-base is both old and rather poor. If not for the Microsoft-esque monopoly position Adobe enjoys, no one would purchase their products which are buggy, bloated and ugly for the most part.



Adobe writes for Windows now and then ports to the Mac. The Apple ports are done with (again) proprietary technology. They don't use objective C, they don't use X-Code, they don't use the Apple frameworks, etc. etc.



If Apple were to purchase Adobe, they would have to spend a long, long, time re-writing all the applications from the ground up. Obviously if one has to re-write Photoshop from scratch, there is a good argument for foregoing the purchase price and merely writing your own application from scratch.



On the Mac there are already a couple of upstart companies taking exactly this approach and Apple is itself doing something similar with it's iWork suite of apps. If the IP is mostly worthless (and it is), the only advantage you are buying is the brand-name, and Apple is a far better brand than Adobe already.



They could do more to capture the market by buying out Pixelmator (for a hundredth of the cost of Adobe) if all they want is a Photoshop competitor based on a good code-base.



There are other good reasons for buying Adobe. Straightening out the incredible mess they have made of the PDF standard and blowing up Adobe Acrobat among them. The price however is enormous for just that. Apple might want to wait for Adobe to crumble a bit more and buy it when the price is more in line with the meager offerings Adobe has.

Jeremy | Jan 11, 2008 | 3:30PM

Apolgies for the double spaces in my post above, the preview is not showing the actual result you get when posting.

Jeremy | Jan 11, 2008 | 3:32PM

Whoa fella,

You need to give everyone a break. We still have a year and 9 days of this administration to live through.

No offense, but a whole lot of us will be incredibly happy when the next president is sworn in.

We are living under the threat of a potential attack on Iran AND, should a major attack succeed on US soil, the beginning of Busharraf's coup d'etat martial law government.

Bushwhacked | Jan 11, 2008 | 3:36PM

Everything rings true to me in this article, except I believe Apple would eliminate the applications from the PC Side entirely. If I am not mistaken Apple has already done this with some of their professional audio and video applications that they acquired from other companies.

Craig | Jan 11, 2008 | 3:37PM

+1 for Jeremy's arguments against this prediction.

Plus, you've predicted/recommended this before:
http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/2006/pulpit_20060427_000894.html

Sandy | Jan 11, 2008 | 3:41PM

@soothsayer: a little tradition we have here on the Internet is that, if you disagree with someone's points, it doesn't really fly to simply say "You're all wrong" without making a few points to outline your own, presumably more insightful, opinion. It just makes you seem kinda dumb.

I know I am not wrong about the approximate size of Apple's current cash hoard and the current valuation of Adobe. I know I'm not wrong to point out that these valuations have to rise quite a bit if a buyer turns up.

I don't disagree with your point that Apple would win great leverage by buying Adobe, I'm just saying that it would not be $30b worth of leverage. Jobs does not throw away money - can you name one major acquisition they have ever, in their entire history, completed or even attempted?

This whole thing is just nice speculation, fun to think about and it will get Bob a ton of traffic from both the Apple fanboys and the Adobe fanboys but, trust me, it is not actually going to happen.

Donnacha | Jan 11, 2008 | 3:42PM

Your focus is too provincial here.

Step back and see Adobe's role in the IDPF and the creation of a universal ebook file format called .epub.

http://www.teleread.org/blog/2007/09/15/new-idpf-epub-format-which-software-companies-are-aboard-and-how-epub-will-help-publishers/

Then look at Sony working with Adobe to improve PDF on their Sony Reader.

http://mikecane2008.wordpress.com/2008/01/08/sonys-got-something-big-for-their-reader/

Then consider the Kindle. Amazon broke the MobiPocket format to make it Kindle-proprietary. A silly greedy mistake.

If Apple buys Adobe, it's suddenly King of Ebooks.

Mike Cane | Jan 11, 2008 | 3:44PM

Adobe's coming home, love that!
Adobe in!
Bush out!
Future looks good, I can breathe again!

Stop | Jan 11, 2008 | 3:52PM

I just recently bought a new MacBook Pro, and I highly suspect that the optical drive in my machine is capable of (at least) reading Blu Ray discs, it's only a matter of software to play them now....

Robb | Jan 11, 2008 | 3:53PM

Well, the option of buying Disney may be much more attractive to Steve Jobs than you state, for the simple reason that with Disney comes the ABC television network.

Now imagine the ABC logo being changed to the Apple Logo. The network changes from "American Broadcast Company" to "Apple Broadcast Company" (at least informally, and on station IDs).

What would this do to the national perception of Apple Inc.? Microsoft made a stab at it with MSNBC, which apparently, is the uncreative, boring way that Microsoft does things. Owning one of the Big Three real television broadcast networks would slam Apple Branding into almost every home regularly. And this is, above all, the market Apple is trying to reach.

Mister Ron | Jan 11, 2008 | 3:56PM

Acquiring Adobe gives Apple another advantage, one I've not see discussed here yet. It give them leverage. Microsoft has the ability to pull the Mac version of Office at any moment. If that happens, then Apple loses a big portion of Mac users. As much as we may dislike Office, it's a necessity.
Now if Apple owned Adobe, and by extension, Photoshop, Flash and Acrobat, well then they could pull Windows support for all those apps in they so chose. Basically, it would be a way of making sure each company is in check. As software based cold war, so to speak.

Just my two cents.

Faisal Ali | Jan 11, 2008 | 3:57PM

All of the value of Adobe is in Flash, and I have very mixed feelings about Flash. It is used MOSTLY in annoying ad banners, and isn't strictly NECSSARY to stream content (YouTube, etc). "merging Flash and QuickTime would make any other video standards (like Windows Media) simply immaterial." Umm-- the iPod and Quicktime have ALREADY made Windows Media and Real immaterial.

Having said that, I see little value in Adobe Photoshop or Acrobat; Apple could author a Photoshop equal, WITH A STRONGER CODE BASE (Apple has world-class Dev tools (XCode); stuff beyond MSFT's wildest dreams.) with little expended effort.

Apple's Preview is already better than Adobe reader and MUCH faster. All Apple would need to do on the PDF front would be to add some authoring features.

So.... I see Adobe as a poor parking spot for $23 Billion.

Tom B | Jan 11, 2008 | 3:58PM

Well, the option of buying Disney may be much more attractive to Steve Jobs than you state, for the simple reason that with Disney comes the ABC television network.

Now imagine the ABC logo being changed to the Apple Logo. The network changes from "American Broadcast Company" to "Apple Broadcast Company" (at least informally, and on station IDs).

What would this do to the national perception of Apple Inc.? Microsoft made a stab at it with MSNBC, which apparently, is the uncreative, boring way that Microsoft does things. Owning one of the Big Three real television broadcast networks would slam Apple Branding into almost every home regularly. And this is, above all, the market Apple is trying to reach.

Mister Ron | Jan 11, 2008 | 3:58PM

Apple should buy Adobe just to force them to give us the Windows features available in Acrobat.

PV | Jan 11, 2008 | 4:03PM

There's definitely a fit, in theory. The question is whether Apple would be willing to make such a large acquisition given multi-billion deals haven't been part of its corporate DNA. Why would Steve Jobs do something so strategically radical?

Mark Evans | Jan 11, 2008 | 4:05PM

Can't help to think that Jobs would consider buying Adobe and utilize the "dongle method" for the Adobe's suite of stolen products.

Of course, that would mean you have to buy a Mac to get the latest version of Adobe, although it will be free!

Bazily | Jan 11, 2008 | 4:07PM

Why would Adobe sell?
Jim | Jan 11, 2008 | 1:58PM

$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $

GuyFromOhio | Jan 11, 2008 | 4:20PM

I would love to see it happen, but I seriously doubt it would.

If Apple offers $$$ Microsoft would offer $$$ x2.

Microsoft can still outbuy Apple, and there would be serious non-financial reasons for Adobe to sell itself to Apple.

Burger | Jan 11, 2008 | 4:23PM

If Apple owned Adobe, Microsoft threats of "no more Office for Mac" could be countered with "no more [Photoshop|Illustrator|Acrobat|Premiere] for Windows."

Matt | Jan 11, 2008 | 4:25PM

My first instinct is to hope this isn't true. Apple getting too big and too far reaching isn't good for the company or it's customers. We don't have to look any farther than MS to see a company that should have stuck with it's core competence. But ... I've never been an Adobe customer. I've used Dreamweaver for 10 years, and have always been able to use Fireworks instead of Photoshop. With CS3, I was cornered into getting it. Personally, I think Adobe has virtually ruined these apps. So ... Apple's core competency is simplification of GUI through deep understanding of how the software is being used. Maybe, just maybe, an Apple acquisition of Adobe would rescue DW/FW & Flash, from Adobe's clutches.

JohnFromChicago | Jan 11, 2008 | 4:27PM

I really don't think Steve Jobs has that much respect for either Bruce Chizen or Shantanu Narayen. There has always been a steady flow of Apple and Adobe executives back-and-forth, with the flow these days to Apple.

Given Adobe's valuation, I really don't see Apple trying to acquire Adobe. There is no real need - Apple has its own line of pro applications, like Final Cut Pro, etc.

From the Adobe side, I don't see any interest either. There's just no need.

As for Adobe buying Macromedia - that was a no-brainer and should have been done in 2003 when MACR's valuation was much, much lower.

John | Jan 11, 2008 | 4:29PM

I'm pretty sure Apple has an e-book in the works, on e with a larger screen than the ones from Sony or Amazon. Buying or merging with Adobe would simply make content creation for such an e-book easier for the individual. The I-Tunes store should be easy enough to modify into a giant bookstore.

Zond | Jan 11, 2008 | 4:29PM

bests reasons to buy adobe:
1: "dongle" photoshop;
2: own flash to go with quicktime(own two dominant video distribution formats with different strengths) and make the must-have player;
3: get macromedia, ie own web development tools;
4: .pdf: control the capabilities of the dominant document format

mwuhahahahahahahaha!!!

benny-boy | Jan 11, 2008 | 4:31PM

I'm pretty sure Apple has an e-book in the works, on e with a larger screen than the ones from Sony or Amazon. Buying or merging with Adobe would simply make content creation for such an e-book easier for the individual. The I-Tunes store should be easy enough to modify into a giant bookstore.

Zond | Jan 11, 2008 | 4:31PM

bests reasons to buy adobe:
1: "dongle" photoshop;
2: own flash to go with quicktime(own two dominant video distribution formats with different strengths) and make the must-have player;
3: get macromedia, ie own web development tools;
4: .pdf: control the capabilities of the dominant document format

mwuhahahahahahahaha!!!

benny-boy | Jan 11, 2008 | 4:32PM

I don't see this happening. Apple already has video editing, why would they want picture editing? Apple Macs create pdfs for free, why do the want a solution to create pdfs? Apple has webkit and H.264 why would they want flash? Apple publishes its software solely on Macs, what are they to do with Adobes PC business? They can't just not make Adobe Software for the PC anymore, Adobe lives on selling expensive products to the enterprise market: again not Apple's target group. And Adobe products are big clunky unusable.

I don't see any valid point you make why Apple should buy Adobe, other then sitting on excess cash. There is no one really dependend on flash, when you can get another plugin easy that does the same, why not? See, Netscape just got closed down. When there where other better browsers, people just moved along. No pay foor goods, no brand loyalty (this goes for google as well who will reign for just as long as their product is superior)

Mark my words Bob, you have this one all wrong!

And blu-ray drives are just not present because there isn't a single -affordable- blu-ray slot in drive on the market, and demand isn't there yet, and it was also very wise to wait until HD-DVD was dead for sure!
Just as there isn't a mac book nano becaus the flash drives aren't where Apple want's the to be..., yet!


Konstantin Prinz | Jan 11, 2008 | 4:34PM

I entirely disagree that Apple would want Adobe. Adobe's core products are a mess. Photoshop is a mess. They haven't made much of their Macromedia acquisition besides CS3, which to this day I still can't figure out exactly what it is.

Developing for Flash is just a total disaster. Java would have beat the crap out of it for applets if Sun could have figured out a way to make the damn JVM load faster.

I think a better explanation for Bruce Chizen stepping down is his realization that Adobe is dying.

If you think about it, Flash's popularity all of a sudden came through the likes to YouTube and Google Video. Before that, it was one of the most hated ad technologies on the Internet.

Also, Apple is a hardware company. They have made this clear time and time again by not licensing OS X. If they weren't a hardware company you'd be able to run OS X on your Dell or HP craptop right now.

More to the point, Apple's focus may not be corporate but it's not content creation either. Not ENTERPRISE content creation anyway. Apple is targeting the consumer. Adobe's consumer products suck. Mac World on Tuesday will go even further towards proving this.

Jobs wants to control his platform and his market, but unlike Microsoft, he's not fixated on world domination. He is fixated on the perfect platform and Adobe does not fix into that equation.

PS - I'll bet you $50 that Apple never acquires Adobe. Ever. :)


Scott Rossillo | Jan 11, 2008 | 5:02PM

Re: Whoa fella

So you're one the 24% of morons in this country who actually still support Bush? Wow.

I think Cringley only insulted 0.00001% of his readers, the rest of the world already figured out the Bush is useless. :)

Scott Rossillo | Jan 11, 2008 | 5:09PM

What does Adobe think? Don't they have a say? Maybe they don't want Apple buying them.

HG | Jan 11, 2008 | 5:11PM

"And Adobe products are big clunky unusable." – K. Prinz.

Adobe products have been the lifeblood of my business since the early '90's. They are, almost without exception" remarkable. Apple and Adobe have been the anchors to a business that has made me more successful than I ever dreamed imaginable.

I do, however, agree completely with the final comment regarding Blue-Ray and Apple.

David | Jan 11, 2008 | 5:18PM

"And Adobe products are big clunky unusable." – K. Prinz.

Adobe products have been the lifeblood of my business since the early '90's. They are, almost without exception" remarkable. Apple and Adobe have been the anchors to a business that has made me more successful than I ever dreamed imaginable.

I do, however, agree completely with the final comment regarding Blue-Ray and Apple.

David Garon | Jan 11, 2008 | 5:20PM

Following the Adobe absorption of Macromedia, I suppose further consolidation of 'creation' app companies makes market sense. However, opposition by Justice, with prodding by MS out of self interest, and then all others seeking to defocus Apple, is very likely, even in 2008.

The promoting/demoting of products based on relative strengths that happened in the integration of Macromedia Studio into Creative Suite became a best of breed benefit for the customers. Final Cut Studio could absorb/replace the Premiere/After Effects cluster in a similar way, hastening the extinction of Premiere and Adobe post apps on the Mac. But porting Final Cut Studio to Windows would defeat the macdongle! Would Apple do that in this scenario? The increase in support costs... the loss of control over core architecture... No think not. Would it be that 'cool' to Steve to have ALL the good apps on Windows be by Apple?

Michael Burress | Jan 11, 2008 | 5:22PM

Adobe is the old world, Bob. Apollo or whatever it's called now shows a lot of promise, but other than that Adobe is very much in the "Mac" section of Apple's product line and isn't at all in touch with the new world. I'm sure Apple would love to have Apollo and do something snazzy with it, but Adobe wouldn't sell their Flash replacement.

I personally have always wanted to see Apple buy SGI, but it's never going to happen.

Then there's Asus. Asus has the EeePC, some experience in phone and 3G mobile network technology, it has a line of Blu-ray drives, a line of noteworthy PDAs, and it has a lot of experience with PC hardware. They could instantly bring a lot of fast hardware to the Mac platform, as well, boosting the Mac's performance in graphics and overall performance quite significantly. Asus makes top notch PC hardware, specifically performance hardware for gaming.

There are lots of other interesting options, but Adobe says "old world 1980s computing" too much to me. It just doesn't bring Apple enough cachet in the mobile media market.

Graham Fair | Jan 11, 2008 | 5:27PM

I'd like to see it happen, if only because it would get FrameMaker back on Macs, and (finally) ported to OSX. But I think it's more likely that Apple would just buy the pieces of Adobe they really want or need, which could be FrameMaker (which Apple still uses to produce documentation, under PPCs running Classic) and Macromedia. Adobe's too big of a pill for even Apple to swallow whole.

FARfetched | Jan 11, 2008 | 5:39PM

so to recap...

23 billion to merge flash and quicktime

not sure about that.

NIkc | Jan 11, 2008 | 5:44PM

Apple buying Adobe would be brilliant because while they in some ways help each other, they also compete with each other. After such a purchase, think- Apple could drop Motion and keep After Effects- that's a good thing; it could drop Premiere and keep Final Cut. The post-production suite that Apple is building could only get better.
Some have suggested that Apple buy Autodesk. Apple would have Maya. Imagine the new Final Cut Studio: FCP, After Effects, Color, Photoshop, Indesign, Illustrator and Maya. Except for audio, the post suite would be all but complete, economical and benefitting from perhaps a synthesis of the best of both company's ideas regarding the interfaces and feature sets of each program, ect. Final Cut Studio for the new decade.

Sean Gordon | Jan 11, 2008 | 5:47PM

For something to be purchased, it needs to be sold.
Apple will not buy Adobe because Adobe will not be sold- either by its board of Directors or its shareholders- to Appleiamon. The company's growth potential would be diminished, not improved, by its acquisition by Apple.

Christopher Parsons | Jan 11, 2008 | 5:48PM

"I knew he was good for something." I love it.

Alarik | Jan 11, 2008 | 6:17PM

@David Garon:

Your point is valid for Photoshop, just because there aren't any products in the line of Photoshop taht are truly better. You can do infinite things, but in order to achieve this you need to tackle a steep learning curve.

Take Final Cut Studio II: the effects are so intuitive to add, and it can do soo much to moving pictures at a fraction of the cost Adobe offers to edit still pictures. WHY would Apple burden themselves with Adobes products. I don't see a fit.

The other half of my clunky ugly argument goes to load times. Every Adobe App takes ages to open. Even a pdf reader...

@Sean Gordon:

Wouldn't the implication of your argument (drop Premiere, keep FCS) be that Apple would have to develop software for the PC? If they do that, Cringely's argument of Apple creating content just to sell boxes comes tumbling down. And you can't just stop making PC products when you're Adobe and a guesstimated 80% of your revenue is in that market. Well you could, but it would be crazy (for the lack of a better word).

I think Apple has all the apps they need in their market. Maybe a little web design utility to vamp up web kit. But again, when you're in moving pictures (future), why spend big bucks to get into the still picture business(past)???

I see Apples future as a consumer electronics company selling 12" iPhones, the iTV (mac mini+monitor =iMac, appleTV + Monitor=iTV) and they'll do big damages to the low consumer end of digital cameras by implementing cameras into each and every device as the go along. And they're not going to waste any money on hardware manufacturers to buy either, neither will they invest in infrastructure (like frequency bands), or content creators (Disney) the profit lies in 'Designed in California' not in 'Assembled in China'

N.B. I'm not so sure about not spending money on content 'creators'. If the record labels keep going down, Apple might snap up one? Yes that would insult the other labels of content they distribute, but like Apple cares about their partners feelings :)

Konstantin Prinz | Jan 11, 2008 | 6:30PM

I like the idea.
I was considering that apple should buy AutoCad/Max/Alias 3D business. But it is probably too early for that -- I really thought a few years ago that the QuickTime 3D object model was going to take off --and that 3d shopping for items, and 3D desktops and avatars galore were going to rule the day. That didn't happen -- I guess because of content control, or, just none of the big players saw it as the next big thing. The world took a fork in the road and it was Flash.

Flash 3D? I suppose it will happen. Anyway, the Alias/AutoCad business, while huge in some circles, doesn't get Apple the eyeballs of consumers as much. Even though Apple spent a lot on Color and Shake and such apps -- they have the important part of the movie studios already. 3D would be a bit of overlap.

Buying Adobe would have to happen sooner than later -- but let's face it. Bush politics is the only way it would be allowed, and that would mean a donation to someone who both Steve Jobs and Al Gore detest. I see politics getting in the way of such a buyout/merger more than business.


>> As someone already posted; drop Motion for After Effects. I'd have to say as a user of both; No Way. Motion may not have the control or features of AE yet, but it does 90% of what you want 90% faster. Motion is the future. Just take a look at how Word and PowerPoint were "good enough" to take over from WordPerfect and other better presentation software. Quick, Easy and fast will rule the day. Motion is a bit strange, but it uses a lot of real-time Quartz and allows for creative exploration.

After Effects appeals to the technician in me, and gives me the result I'm looking for if I plan it out correctly and build -- that isn't typical of the artists who will dominate an EASY video effects and compositing landscape. Technicians excel and do well when things are hard.

I'd heard some complaints actually, on Creative Cow, that Apple's Color, was TOO GOOD. That just as Desktop Publishing brought in home-based Brochure producers who made cringe-worthy products with too many fonts, so too would Color lower the price that Video Producers made on color retouching. Well they were right -- but people will still pay for quality. It's just that the lower end will get cheaper, time to move onto something more difficult if you want big bucks.

>> But I worry about too much consolidation. Competition tends to push thinks towards cheaper and better. MS Office has been annoying bloatware for years, until Apple came out with Keynote. Internet Explorer never added tabs, or paid attention to standards or CSS or speed until Safari and FireFox came back to compete in the browser market.

I'd go for more support for Flash, throughout the Mac OS and QuickTime, however. It might be better than PDF and postscript for many of the OS elements for instance.

Mark | Jan 11, 2008 | 6:43PM

OK, forget that Adobe non-sense.

Now, what if Apple hat 57bn to spend? Wouldn't Sony make a nice addition to the portfolio? Sell the manufacturing to private equity, keep the design? TV, HD camcorder, gaming console - a much better fit than Adobe Acrobat, Photoshop, Flash, Shockwave!

Bob, follow your own argument! It's all about the hardware, right? Wouldn't you agree that Apple already has enough software on offer to sell their boxes? Certainly investing 22bn in more software won't make them 22bn profit on more hardware sold anytime soon. So, back to your own argument: Wouldn't it be clever to sell even more hardware instead, without investing in Software? Especially when you make the best software there is yourself anyway? Apple successfully started selling more hardware than ever before by broadening their product range. Five (5!) iPods to choose from last holiday season. Hey, why not get an nano in addition to your iPhone or iPod classic, or all of them?
Now where is that iTV that does conferencing? Where is that blu-ray equipped game console, running OS X on its next revision?
PSP, make way for the iPhone game!

Konstantin Prinz | Jan 11, 2008 | 6:55PM

I am a flash developer and was super pissed when Adobe bought Macromedia. I felt like they plundered flash, and then basically did a nose thumb to the people who were already developing with Macromedia products. Lots of deals to the Adobe crowd to take up flash, etc., but not the other way around with breaks to the Macromedia faithful to get Adobe stuff. I wanted Apple to buy it back then, and several other people and I speculated that it was dumb that Apple wasn't buying it. Would be thrilled if they did.

flasher | Jan 11, 2008 | 7:41PM

But signor, the "Apple dongle" differs from the old dongle.
One old dongle was only for ONE program, probably for one version of the program.
One Apple "dongle" limits only the execution speed of ALL apple application programs. It will also run later versions of the Apple OS.

kirk | Jan 11, 2008 | 7:44PM

Adobe has quite a few turkeys in its product line. They may be profitable, but they're not Apple products.

Do you think Apple could find a buyer for them?

@Matt - brilliant.

Oh, and reCAPTCHA seems to fail more than half the time. I'm not that dumb.

Bill McGonigle | Jan 11, 2008 | 7:52PM

Robert X. Cringely,

I cannot remember the last time you were correct about something.

Chris | Jan 11, 2008 | 8:27PM

Not entirely sure it makes sense, but a quick note on how much it would cost.

*IF* apple decided they wanted Adobe, they wouldn't write out a cheque for $30bn or whatever. (last look cap was $21, add large premium).

Deals like this are generally cash + stock, or even stock only. Given Apple's market cap of $150bn, it's easily doable of Jobs wants it done.

obo | Jan 11, 2008 | 8:30PM

BOB P: All the value is in Flash? What about PDF, the de facto standard in web based documents?

OBO: All deals of this size are all cash. No one goes out of pocket on a deal over a $1B or so, except for PE firms.

alex | Jan 11, 2008 | 8:36PM

What about the fact that Apple needs a Flash player for the iPhone. As crazy as this sounds, it actually makes sense!

Mitch | Jan 11, 2008 | 9:06PM

Bob, you make a great argument, but omit the number one reason why this would make sense - Silverlight! A very viable option from MS that gives them a credible content creation channel to challenge Adobe. And not to mention the end of so many conflicts of interest between Apple and Adobe, such as Aperture/Lightroom and iPhoto/Photoshop LE.

Wonderkid | Jan 11, 2008 | 9:40PM

Data must become format agnostic! I do not look forward to buying the same movies again in BluRay. But, man, will LotR look good in HD!!

Ernie Oporto | Jan 11, 2008 | 10:03PM

There is another reason that it could happen - Apple has paused support for the carbon API - under which much of adobe's software is written, in preference for the Coca API which they are promoting (for example, only Coca will have 64 bit, Carbon will remain 32 bit) which means Adobe will have to re-write millions of lines of code to stay current, and use 64 Bit processing; very important for memory hogs like premiere, photoshop aftereffects etc.



Apple needs adobe to maintain their software for Mac in order to sell computers, and it isn't like Steve to leave control of a critical selling point to a third party, is it?

Matthew Kerr | Jan 11, 2008 | 10:41PM

Apple, Google, whoever—buy Adobe. Someone with drive and vision needs to buy Adobe, because from where I'm sitting they are failing on both counts (even if financials are good).

Brian | Jan 11, 2008 | 10:52PM

Apple will not buy Adobe. Among other reasons, the EU will prevent it.

SLK | Jan 11, 2008 | 11:27PM

What about Apple-AMD?

Someone | Jan 12, 2008 | 12:25AM

Adobe is riding high right now. Yes, there software is behind and sufferring on Apple (Universal Binaries anyone?) but when it comes to content creation, Adobe on PC is the only cost effective and usable solution.

Developers *creating* content have a cost effective AND ONLY choice to produce BlueRay content and Flash video content using Adobe's products ON PC (Apple doesn't even have a blue-ray drive yet). And keep in mind that what ever cool, sleek, cutting edge hardware that apple does release, IS 2 YEARS behind a PC that has bleeding edge hardware for cheaper. (i.e. Where's my super fast NVidia 8800GTX SLI x 4 GPU card for Apple? -it doesn't exist). Yet for the same price of a Mac Pro I can get a PC with 3x the power.

Do you think Pixar uses Macs for their render farms? or any production Studio (FOX, WB, etc)? (enter chearp Linux and Windows boxes). Forget it. PC's are way more cost effective to actually get a CPU time consuming render done and cut to Blu-Ray in time to show at your local DLP enabled thearter. Should Apple aquire Adobe, Apple would muck up or kill blue-ray, slow down developers with slow hardware and effectively lose speeed with their own competeting products (Final Cut vs Adobe After Afects/Premier on PC). Developers will scramble to the next best thing. Enter dying Corel, e-Frontiers, Nero, and half a dozen other dying creative content solutions. They would experience a surge (Micrografx rising from the dead?) in their user base and demand.

Bottom line, if Apple has been in the content creation business and thats supposed to be their MO... they ARE NOT doing a very good job, and I don't see them getting better with a costly Adobe merger... now if they choose to aquire the old cross platform 'creation' apps that were Apple (but now PC) dominant and aquired all of them (everything formerly Metacreations)... then they'd be a Real 'content creation business' company on Apple Hardware. But I don't see that happening either.

Steveorevo | Jan 12, 2008 | 1:17AM

Apple buying Adobe is a no brainer! It should have happened a long time ago.

Sandy Milne | Jan 12, 2008 | 1:34AM

Steveorevo: This statement

Developers *creating* content have a cost effective AND ONLY choice to produce BlueRay content and Flash video content using Adobe's products ON PC (Apple doesn't even have a blue-ray drive yet)
only makes sense if your designer works for free. If he's 5% more efficient on a Mac (and he is) then you recoup the hardware cost in productivity inside about a month. That's why you really don't find PCs in design houses. As for the drive - that last step of burning things is the least important.

djehuty | Jan 12, 2008 | 2:01AM

Someone Who?

Wow! "Someone" really needs to get out from the PC rock they've been living under and see the world through the lens of a real developer. While Windows has its place and can and should remain in our creative studios, I beg to differ on the report that a Mac Pro is more expensive, slow, and out dated by 2 years than a Windows PC. Absolutely incredible statement that leads me to believe that "Someone" is not in the business of creative development - but rather a troll :)

Apple should buy Adobe and I've been waiting for this a long time. Core Image anyone? Finally we'll have some technology that can really take Photoshop to the next level!

Mikielikes | Jan 12, 2008 | 2:05AM

Sorry Someone!

The comment was intended for Steveorevo :)

Moreover, the issue with Adobe is that they will tank Flash big time. At one point they had a competitor product to take on Flash - tank! Why? Because they are toooooo big as a company and lack the vision to move it forward. Most of the brain power that made Flash what it is today were either fired after the acquisition or just left. Adobe is bloatware to say the least and needs fixing big time on all platforms.

It'll be fun to see if it happens. If it doesn't - Apple will have a Photoshop competitor in less than two years!

Mikielikes | Jan 12, 2008 | 2:22AM

The EU cannot prevent the acquisition of one American company by another, SLK. The only thing the EU could do is force Apple to share its technology with competitors in Europe if it felt there was an unfair, repeat, unfair monopoly.

Public mindshare is such, that it is perfectly conceivable that most of everyone could one day collectively decide to stop using Microsoft products and technology that employs Microsoft products and decide to buy Apple products and technology that employs Apple products for awhile. As long as Apple does not engage in practices that hinders competition, it would be free to sell its products and services to one and all, thus possibly making Steve Jobs richer than the entire Sam Walton clan, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet combined. Stranger things have happened.

The conditions are actually ripe for a wide scale public conversion to computers running Linux, but the true beneficiaries will not be Linux vendors or companies that sell Linux services but average joe users who won't really care as long the technology is invisible. Right now we have cheap hardware, about four or five distros that are easy to use (nevermind install) by non-geeks, OEMs offering Linux pre-installed on their boxes, compatible free productivity software products like OpenOffice and The Gimp that works as well, probably better or good enough for regular users than their proprietary counterparts, cheap high speed internet, and here's the kicker, Google's and other internet companies array of products and services, from storage to productivity that cost nothing to use, except maybe a little virtual real estate and eyeball time for advertising. Microsoft could have tried to stop this at anytime, just by changing a few of its proprietary practices, embracing and understanding where the internet was going, but sadly didn't. It blindly thought it continue acting the way it has always acted and keep raking in the dough until Gabriel blew his horn or the Sun turned into a red giant.

In the next five years, the OS as platform may be irrelevant as the internet becomes the platform. As long as one has a fast processor, a good browser (one that doesn't break or fail) and a fast fat connection to internet, reducing computers to mere terminals, anyway, who cares about the OS? Not the user - and that frightens the Steve Ballmers of the world. Much like the first Windows bolted onto MS-DOS was a half-assed attempt to compete with the original MacOS, Windows Live is Microsoft's half-assed attempt to compete with Google. Perhaps the next CEO of Microsoft will be able to pull that off, perhaps he or she will take the company down a different road entirely. Many are saying Google will be the next Microsoft - I'll believe that when they hire a real CEO to tamp down the madness and make it behave like a real company (anyone remember Jon Shirley?), until then it's still anybody's game.
Meanwhile Apple, Inc may still be a profitable electronic consumer hardware company - by not competing in markets dominated currently Microsoft or Google - it will become the dominant player in content distribution and the hardware that handles the content. Microsoft came to the game late - it's unlikely the third time's a charm is going to bless the next iteration of the Zune unless Apple really trips over itself. Google may toy with idea of improving Google Video as a pay video distribution if it comes up with a better interface (anyone see Vimeo, yet?). Perhaps a Google Video store?

Kevin Kunreuther | Jan 12, 2008 | 2:39AM

Totally agree with your article! I have been hoping and praying for some time now that Apple would buy Adobe. Adobe's products have become bloatware, but they are still an interesting company doing some interesting things in the Adobe Labs. However, their customer service stinks.

Someone has to take the plunge and rescue Adobe. And I sincerely hope that someone is Apple.

Thanks for your article!

Mark McCormick | Jan 12, 2008 | 2:52AM

This would be a dream from the technology standpoint. Apple could help humanize Adobe software. Apple could improve Adobe products by having them take advantage of technologies in OS X. It is frustrating to see Adobe apps that seem to just tolerate existing on OS X. And Apple would benefit from bringing in the considerable technical talent at Adobe.

This would also be a tremendous life preserver for Apple. Suppose someone else takes over Adobe? They could make life difficult for Apple.

I wonder about it financially. Adobe has gotten rather large. It would be a lot for Apple to swallow both in terms of money and in management time and focus. Perhaps if it was a friendly take over it could work. The good news is that Steve would make sure to have enough control to prevent the deal from failing. Also, the fit is very good so this kind of deal would be unlikely to bring down both companies as when companies go far outside their industries to make acquisitions.

John Konopka | Jan 12, 2008 | 3:26AM

When Apple had the chance, it should have purchased Macromedia. Trying to digest Adobe and its culture, now, just to have Flash - you sure that's a big big big bellyache Apple wants to endure? The marriage of the technology is a great idea - not just rendering WMA immaterial but ever bloated Real Player would be finally put to pasture - yet, it's the differing corporate cultures and people within that will be the problem.

It'd be easier to either:
1.)buy Flash (fat chance)
2.)develop and promote rival to Flash (Silverlight, anyone?)

Kevin Kunreuther | Jan 12, 2008 | 4:42AM

Excellent article.

I am mixed over the interest of Apple to buy Adobe but at the same time, since Microsoft is releasing Flash and PDF killers, maybe those technologies plus Photoshop, Indesign and Dreamweaver code and developers are worth a lowered price.

AlanSky | Jan 12, 2008 | 4:44AM

Kevin, you are wrong about the EU's powers to prevent mergers. The European Commission, which is the regulatory body of the European Union (EU), can block company mergers and takeovers, even between non-European firms. For example, the European Commission blocked the GE-Honeywell merger even though US anti-trust regulators approved it.

U.S. anti-trust regulators focus on whether the proposed merger will create a monopoly that could lead to higher consumer prices. By contrast, the EU has a more restrictive definition of unlawful competition. Accordingly, the EU prohibits mergers that allow the merged entities to secure unfair advantages over its rivals, particularly when the rivals are European. The EU will not allow Abode and Apple to merge, or the EU will place so many restrictions on the merger that it will be uneconomic.

slk | Jan 12, 2008 | 5:15AM

It should be noted that Avid does also sell hardware for it's software to run on. They offer Windows based workstations and proprietary storage and distribution systems. Avid is not just selling software as your column suggests.

Regards,

James | Jan 12, 2008 | 5:34AM

sup

ggg | Jan 12, 2008 | 9:15AM

I have to shake my head in disbelief at all the ridiculous stories I see posted on the net to draw readers. All the phantom ware that never seems to appear as these sites promise. They all say we have concrete evidence from a reliable source regarding Apples next move.

How about a write up on how all these sites were wrong and for the most part continue to be so. We all know that Apple has a history of going after sites that publish legitimate information. Seeing how few sites have been shut down or forced to retract posted info over the years I see the great many are just rumor mongering for their own benefit.


cross eyed | Jan 12, 2008 | 10:24AM

Apple buy Adobe? Dream on!

First, Apple historically only buys software companies that increase the value of its own hardware whether that be the Mac or iPod. If the software is to increase the value of Macs, Apple has quickly killed off Windows versions of the software. Yet, if Apple were to buy Adobe, it would have to over pay about fifty percent of its value for the company. This is because Adobe receives over half of its value from the products it sells to the Windows market. Apple is not going to buy Adobe to kill half its value when it would never get its return on its investment.

Second, last I checked Microsoft has a lot more money in the bank then Apple. Microsoft would never allow APple to buy Adobe. I also doubt that regulators would either.

Third, half of the value of Adobe is that it's products are cross platform. Kill that, and you essentially diminish the value of the products.

.

Terrin | Jan 12, 2008 | 10:45AM

Fuck Apple. If they buy Adobe I'll switch to GIMP/Inkscape/etc.

Sebhelyesfarku | Jan 12, 2008 | 11:32AM

To the commenters asserting MS would buy Adobe, M$ could outbid Apple for Adobe, except the merger wouldn't make it past the antitrust regulators any more than M$-Intuit did. You'e talking about a SW monopolist trying to buy a software company which holds the majority of its market segment.


To Bob: there ain't $10B of value to Apple for Adobe, let alone $23B+. This won't happen.

mac84 | Jan 12, 2008 | 12:58PM

Bob,

I think I have spotted an interesting contradiction between this week and last week's post.

Last week:
"12) Along the same lines look for OS X to bifurcate clearly into two lines -- Mac OS X and plain OS X (for devices like the iPhone) with Apple licensing (non-Mac) OS X to a few companies, including Sony."

This week:
"This hardware-software one-two punch is how Apple has come to dominate media creation and is the main reason why those who think Apple will license Mac OS X to other hardware companies are simply wrong."

Chris | Jan 12, 2008 | 2:07PM

Ok, apple buys Adobe merges QT and Flash and renames it HACIENDA. Let the dance begin.

Scott | Jan 12, 2008 | 2:57PM

Nope. Not happening.

First, Apple historically has only bought small companies to include their technologies into Apple's lineup of products, or to enhance the small company's existing product(s), turning them into Mac-only products. Adobe doesn't fit into either of these schemes.

Second, Apple is becoming more of a consumer electronics company, so spending $25B on a software company also doesn't make sense. Apple is rapidly developing mobile gadgets for sending, receiving, and consuming content, so Apple would be more likely to invest in networking like FON, batteries, or OLED displays than buy Adobe.

mark | Jan 12, 2008 | 3:31PM

I've been telling people this for two years. I don't know what Apple is waiting for.

mretondo | Jan 12, 2008 | 3:35PM

Hi Mr. Cringely, or may I call you I? I believe Apple will buy Adobe not only for the 15 billion in cash that they're sitting on but Apple's stock price has doubled,the iPhone and iPod have taken off, the Flash laptop is coming along very well and the building boom to the tune of 500 million
makes Apple a very desirable acquisition.
Jack Manger
jack.manger@gmail.com

Jack Manger | Jan 12, 2008 | 3:35PM

I've been telling people this for two years. I don't know what Apple is waiting for.

mretondo | Jan 12, 2008 | 3:36PM

Hi Mr. Cringely, or may I call you I? I believe Apple will buy Adobe not only for the 15 billion in cash that they're sitting on but Apple's stock price has doubled,the iPhone and iPod have taken off, the Flash laptop is coming along very well and the building boom to the tune of 500 million
makes Apple a very desirable acquisition.
Jack Manger
jack.manger@gmail.com

Jack Manger | Jan 12, 2008 | 3:37PM

I've been telling people this for two years. I don't know what Apple is waiting for.

mretondo | Jan 12, 2008 | 3:39PM

Mathew Kerr's comment above is very important. Apple is deprecating the Carbon API upon which Photoshop is built. Rebuilding Photoshop with the supported Cocoa API is a *major* major major task. One that many have speculated Adobe will not be up for.

If that's true, then Apple has two choices. Create their own Photoshop clone, or acqure Adobe Photoshop one way or anther.

This issue will be a major factor in any dealings between Apple and Adobe of any kind in the near future.

Todd Ditchendorf | Jan 12, 2008 | 3:58PM

Mathew Kerr's comment above is very important. Apple is deprecating the Carbon API upon which Photoshop is built. Rebuilding Photoshop with the supported Cocoa API is a *major* major major task. One that many have speculated Adobe will not be up for.

If that's true, then Apple has two choices. Create their own Photoshop clone, or acqure Adobe Photoshop one way or anther.

This issue will be a major factor in any dealings between Apple and Adobe of any kind in the near future.

Todd Ditchendorf | Jan 12, 2008 | 4:00PM

will never happen imo. AAPL wont spend the money on it

hal | Jan 12, 2008 | 4:43PM

A few commentators have mentioned MS's Silverlight as a competitor to Flash. It is NOT. Silverlight is Windows only, so it will flop on the web, just like ".net". Sure, ".net" gets some use-- but only on corporate intranets. You can't deploy it on the web, because it's Windows only.

tom b | Jan 12, 2008 | 4:45PM

@Todd Ditchendorf:

Which API is used by the new Photoshop Elements?

Glenn | Jan 12, 2008 | 5:30PM

It may or may not be off topic but has anyone managed to decipher the bar-code from the ThereIsSomethingInTheAir thing revealed on Friday?

Quark | Jan 12, 2008 | 5:56PM

Chris @ Jan 12, 2008, 2:07PM

It's not a contradiction to say that Apple will not license Mac OS X to other PC makers for purposes of making PCs that run Mac OS X, but will license a mobile version of OS X to other portable device manufacturers (such as Sony) for purposes of making smartphones and other types of portable devices.

Personally, I don't see it happening. If anything it will be the other way around (the PC hardware market is becoming stagnant and commoditized, and the mobile market is showing the most potential for continued innovation and growth). But they are two different applications, and Apple could conceivably license OS X for one application and not another.

ploeg | Jan 12, 2008 | 6:42PM

"W" is indeed good for more than something. No attacks since 9/11 -- nuff said!!!

rightway | Jan 12, 2008 | 7:27PM

"...merging Flash and QuickTime would make any other video standards (like Windows Media) simply immaterial."

Or vice-versa. Sadly, my money's on Microsoft.

A Guy | Jan 12, 2008 | 7:34PM

Personally, I like the D programming language. It is a combination of C++, Java, and C#. That makes sense to me!

dave | Jan 12, 2008 | 8:12PM

wern't any before 1993 till 2001, either, rightway

stephen | Jan 12, 2008 | 8:12PM

wern't any before 1993 till 2001, either, rightway

stephen | Jan 12, 2008 | 8:13PM

wern't any from 1993 till 2001, either, rightway

stephen | Jan 12, 2008 | 8:17PM

As I said before: If Apple is going to buy anyone, it will be Dell. After that, Steve will burn down Dell's headquarters, plow the remains under, then salt the earth.

There may be a reason why Apple buys Adobe that wasn't discussed. Apple is pushing for open formats because Apple doesn't want its devices to be dependent upon proprietary formats controlled by other companies.

Apple is going into the business of portable Internet devices like the iPhone and the iPod Touch. They do not want a product like Flash to be the way these devices communicate with the Internet because it means that all Apple devices will depend upon Adobe producing a Flash client for their products.

That's worse than depending upon Microsoft for producing a Mac version of Microsoft Office. At least you could write your own word processor and speadsheet. But, you can't write your own Flash player!

Right now, Flash is the biggest single threat to Apple's plan to dominate the portable Internet device market. And dominating this market is Steve Job's goal to finally best Bill Gates. As time goes on, Window PCs will become less and less important. Internet enabled devices is where the big money will be in the next ten years, and so far, Apple has creamed Microsoft in almost all aspects of that market.

But, what if Flash becomes the default way web clients work? There's already a Flash based office suite that goes toe-to-toe with Google's AJAX based office suit. Flash is the dominate form of video content on the Internet, and Flash is a powerful aid in producing interactive web pages.

A Flash based Internet is no better for Apple than a Windows dominated computer world. Unless, of course, Apple controlled Flash. I could see several things happening: Apple releasing Flash file format as an open standard (much like they did with WebKit and the most recent version of JavaScript) Or, simply make sure that all Apple devices come with built in Flash players, and screw the rest of the world.

That would eliminate a lot of worry for Apple. By the way, of all the talk about how well Google has performed over the past few years, Google has been outperformed each and every year by one tech company: Apple. http://snipurl.com/1xa3g.

David W. | Jan 12, 2008 | 8:48PM

Adobe's market cap is $21B. There is nothing Apple needs or wants that Adobe has, that can't be built for a whole lot less than that.

Acrobat? BFD. Apple's already got a superior rendering engine, and it's compatible with PDF.

Flash? Who needs it? Spend $20M fleshing out SVG and keeping it an open standard replaces it without the bloat.

Photoshop? Sorry, but Photoshop is probably the #1 app that retards progress in image editing. Apple could take Shake and cut it down to work on a single frame at a time, and have a vastly superior product. Coming up with some kind of shim to let the photoshop plug-ins work in a superior image editor wouldn't cost a billion dollars.

Selling postscript to the printer OEMs? Been there, bowed out of that.

People keep flogging the "Apple should buy (insert moribund company here)" horse, and they always have some rosy idea about how great it would be for the owners of the company they want bought, but they keep leaving out what's in it for the Apple shareholders.

"Flash based office suite that goes toe-to-toe with Google's AJAX based office suit."

Maybe you didn't notice that they both suck. Apple don't play that.

-jcr

John C. Randolph | Jan 13, 2008 | 2:57AM

Now, there's one company that would actually make a lot of sense for Apple to buy, and that's Red. Check them out at red.com, if you don't know who I'm talking about.

They've just shipped their first product, it only works with FCP, it's a major price-performance breakthrough, and the people there are basically the dream team of camera and lens design.

-jcr

John C. Randolph | Jan 13, 2008 | 3:12AM

Now, there's one company that would actually make a lot of sense for Apple to buy, and that's Red. Check them out at red.com, if you don't know who I'm talking about.

They've just shipped their first product, it only works with FCP, it's a major price-performance breakthrough, and the people there are basically the dream team of camera and lens design.

-jcr

John C. Randolph | Jan 13, 2008 | 3:15AM

Adobe are not exactly supporting Apple's OS X right now. But Apple figured out how to make cross platform apps that run on Windows. For Adobe the move to Objective-C/Cocoa has made no sense; maybe it will for Apple?

Rick | Jan 13, 2008 | 5:48AM

April fools! Nice one Cringely, but you a tad early.

vicsandr | Jan 13, 2008 | 8:45AM

I can see Apple buying Adobe, price notwithstanding. It might be their chance to out-Gates Microsoft and by way of ownership devel;op Adobe's products scross a LOT of platforms, not just laptops and desktop computers. This just may not take place overnight.

Mark | Jan 13, 2008 | 11:38AM

Great article!
I've been using Mac everyday at work (I'm a graphic designer) and at home since 1994. For years, I've been telling friends at work that Apple should buy Adobe. I seriously think that now would be the right moment. Adobe's attitude isnt interesting for us Mac users.

KIMP | Jan 13, 2008 | 2:24PM

I've been in the computer creative content industry for years (13+). And I remember when Sillicon Graphics was 'the' machine for hi tech creative graphics. But they were outdone by more cost effective and faster PCs.

Anyone remember Softimage for SGI? Well, it died and move to the PC. Maya on Macs? Nope, the PC version outperforms because they have the latest graphics card. And you'll never see 3D Studio Max for Mac. Same with Adobe Products. They just run better on PC. People are complaining that Adobe is losing it... no they are just losing it on Mac, no Adobe Onlocation for you. Its just PC based. Want to film a HiDef movie and edit the video in real time... Adobe Encore and Onlocation only comes on the PC... its not on the Mac Master Creative suite. And where is Bluray for Mac? SLI or Crossfire for Mac?

Until Macs can tripple their rendering times by having tripple SLI cards in there boxes at the same price of a Mac Pro... I doubt Apple will be able to be a serious 'content creation company'. Or rather competetive one.

This is because Microsoft knows business.
Apple knows Fashion.
And Google knows technology.
Apple will never be a hi-tech company nor will Microsoft. Just as Microsoft will never be a fashion company... no matter how hard they try. They are just too geeky. Google, on the other hand is all about technology. They are in a sweet spot right now as is Apple. Very fashionable. Not very fast or the best hardware... but very fashionable. But fashion changes and I wonder how long Apple can be in style. They won't lose it to Microsoft like SGI, but on a business level they will never catch up. So who wins in business, a tech company like Google, a business comapny like Microsoft, or a fashion company like Apple? And who will be out of fashion when the next trend comes to light? With FlashLite and Flash TV on the horizon, I'll put my money on Adobe. And when it comes to render farms, 3D cloud computing, I'll put the technology crown on Google. And where will Apple be in all of this? Like bell bottoms and polyester at a Muse concert...

Steveorevo | Jan 13, 2008 | 6:53PM

BTW, I just wanted to add that I'm in no way anti-Mac. I've seen the replies here labeling me a troll... on the contrary, with 13 years experience that would be true if I wasn't so in the loop (I started when i was 14). So given that, I'm simply not a mac 'fanboy'. I love mac designs, I just love custom built PC performance. I hire mac users... and then get things done on PC. I keep mac around because good 'new' artist start out on them... real, great artists finish the job on PC (they just won't tell you that). i wish Apple would succeed quite honestly... but I just don't see them opening up any of API's or business anytime soon. This is a direct conflict of interest with Adobe.

Steveorevo | Jan 13, 2008 | 7:33PM


Remember when Aldus Pagemaker on the Mac was the best game in town for in-house marketing folks to do layouts and brochures? There was nothing in the PC space for a long time that could compete. Marketing folks bought macs. Graphics designers bought macs.



If Mac buys adobe and kills or de-emphasizes the Windows vsns of those Adobe apps, we'll be in the same position again. A dearth of quality tools on a non-apple platform. Methinks dongle sales will improve in the art/content/web/design world.



The reason pc's are faster is that Adobe is writing software in such a way that you can throw SLI's or faster render hardware at it, and on the PC it is cheep. What if Apple owns the software and stops supporting the latest and greatest cheap PC accelerators? Or makes a deal with NVidia to provide a special edition SLI for the mac with a much better profit margin for both companies?



Software lock-in and Hardware lock-in. Hmm. Open source continues to look better every day. Remember, as "cool" as it is... Apple is no solution to Microsoft, its merely a replacement --- they are very similar corporate animals, beholden to their shareholder captors.

Matt Weatherford | Jan 13, 2008 | 9:31PM

If Adobe was worth acquiring, Microsoft would have purchased them long ago. Yes they have PDF and Flash, but like others have said, the code base for their major apps is a mess.

Eddy J | Jan 13, 2008 | 11:22PM

Somewhat off point. As I recall "Dongle" was coined by Douglas Adams on the last page of MacUser or MacWorld and was defined more broadly than above.

Hg

howard Gabel | Jan 13, 2008 | 11:47PM

I have to agree with Matt. Apple aquiring Adobe would be great for Apple, bad for consumers.

If Apple does buy Adobe you can bet on Adobe's recent aquiring of Serious Magic (now Adobe OnLocation) going down the tubes... sorry it doesn't run on Mac. Along with the crippling of BluRay and other Adobe PC only features.

Will consumers stand for it? Probably not. Will creative developers makeing bluray DVDs? Definately not. Nor will other game developers, filmakers, special effect houses, simulation developers, etc. etc.

Enter Business savy Microsoft. Silverlight won't just be a 'Sparkle' (original code name) it'll be a success as Flash under Apple control would be a disaster. And then just that, a Flash and gone. It just won't be in style or 'fashionable' with PCs.

Expect Microsoft to suddenly step up to the plate to deliver 'creative applications' that more then compete, they'll dominate. They did this in 3D with Softimage (then sold it, perhaps premature).

If Microsoft doesn't, someone else will. Either way, unitl Mac OSX runs on PCs legit, an Adobe/Apple merger will cause Adobe products to take a step backwards. Apple will have to stop behaving like a fashion company with the looming future of going out of style and start opening up to business to stay in business.

Steveorevo | Jan 14, 2008 | 2:56AM

I have thought this for years, I even posted it online here http://suggest.commoncraft.com/suggestion_details/1141

then shut down Adobe versions of PC apps, like they did with Logic

Nick Hayday | Jan 14, 2008 | 12:39PM

tom b: clarification as Silveright runs on windows, mac, and linux -- it doesn't require windows at all.

silverlight | Jan 14, 2008 | 1:16PM

god what is this guy raving about. Apple+ Adobe, joke of the day. Apple sucks when it comes to content creation and quicktime compared to flash, what a joke. Flash is much more sophisticated than quicktime is and is very well already placed on the internet........also apple buying out adobe would be the worst thing to happen to adobe.......

mithun | Jan 14, 2008 | 1:18PM

Since it was already mentioned that Adobe's/Macromedia's code-base is in poor shape, I'll just add some supporting evidence. The current Flash IDE still uses CR line endings in it's AS (Actionscript) text files. Those were dropped when Mac OS 9 debuted. Which leads me to believe that major parts of the software hasn't been looked at since the '90s

collin Reisdorf | Jan 14, 2008 | 11:25PM

Don't you even think that after buying Adobe, Apple would buy Microsoft ? And then the complete USA,
For dreaming let's take a pill

ysengrain | Jan 15, 2008 | 4:26AM

Silverlight is claimed to *eventually* work on Windows, Mac, and Linux, but it does not. The Linux support is supposedly in a version called `Moonlight', which will be produced by Novel.

Right now, Silverlight works under windows, can be mostly made to work on the Mac with effort, and is used almost entirely within Microsoft.

chad | Jan 15, 2008 | 5:01AM

iS BURST IN THE MIX WITH APPLE AS BURST HAS ADDED TO APPLE'S VIDIO SOFTWARE.

ED | Jan 15, 2008 | 10:28AM

MacBook Air "Remote Disk" -- turning the PC into a wireless CD/DVD drive is brilliant.

broggerp | Jan 15, 2008 | 4:20PM

Dear Cringely,

Your prediction about the Apple TV is right: http://www.wired.com/gadgets/mac/news/2008/01/macworld_keynote

A little late, but right ...

-Hosh H.

Hosh H | Jan 15, 2008 | 8:18PM

There has been a lot of comments about Adobe's code base being 'in poor shape' and alot of complaints about Adobe losing it and "software hasn't been looked at since the '90s" and that Apple would clean things up.

WHAT!!!???

These MUST BE APPLE USERS. I own Apples, and I bought alot of Apple Stock at $60 a share and I can tell you that Adobe Software is bigger and bloated, which is a Good Thing.

BECAUSE ITS ALSO MORE FEATURE packed and PRODUCTIVE than ever. Its obvious everywhere (and I don't think carriage returns at the end of ActionScript is good gauge of software maturity).

Flash is faster then ever by incorporating a just in time compiler and dozens of optimization techniques. Now its on par with Java, and .NET and is still cross platform. SMART.

Adobe's latest CS3 Master Suite is one of the best integration jobs ever. Before Macromedia and Adobe were at odds in the court room and with its users.

Now Flash has Illustrator's much needed bezier tool (a must have for vector graphic design) and Illustrator got Flash's VERY appreciated eraser tool (one of the key jaw dropping features of San Diego startup Future Splash aka Flash 1.0).

Photoshop got a bunch of non destructive filters and effects, allowing users with the equipment to make changes and keep originals untouched -saving space, time and headaches. -Not to mention 3D, yes 3D. Which is everywhere and on every commerical, billboard or advertisement on the planet. It just couldn't be done with yesterday's hardware (a... hem, old apples). But Adobe implemented it lightweight, simple, and beautifully.

Native file format support between applications made life easier and Flash video in Premier, and Affter Effects is perfect.

Adobe's programming API tying together all the applications with Actions and Automation has made my work easier, not to mention that all applications have been streamlined with similar interfaces vs. "similar, but lets not step or Macromedia copyrights -making it a pain for users".

Ofcoarse, if you feel Adobe has neglected its code (aside from Macromedia Director -some day?)its probably because you need to switch to a PC, update your hardware or just don't upgrade your software and stay in the dark. Your choice. None the less, one can't deny that Adobe has been busy in the last year and alot of these features magically appeared in the last 8 months.

I for one, even though owning Apple stock, hopes that Apple does not aquire Adobe and force us to take a step backwards.

Speaking of Flash's new JIT compiler being more up to date then ever....

Could Adobe be aiming for the business market, -something Apple finds so unfashionable? With Adobe AIR (Adobes Developer program) I would say so! Microsoft didn't flinch with Java, but with Sun at the helm they didn't have to -no biggie... but this time its Adobe AIR, they probably should. Desktop applications developed under .NET or Java have gained much attention but did Java take the crown for desktop application development? NO! And .NET is barely limping along. Its all about the backend server systems for those languages... but who is on the desktop? And who is going to leverage the power doubling and memory doubling performance of tomorrow's computers and handhelds? Maybe I should buy Adobe stock...

Adobe LiveCycle is also proof that Adobe is taking the business market seriously. This might be the perfect balance between creative software style and business savy success. And business, last I checked... never goes out of style.

Steveorevo | Jan 16, 2008 | 1:06AM

Bob has hit the nail on the head. Macs are just dongles and just like Adobe craved Flash, so does Apple. While the creative software is insignificant for Adobe in relation to the revenues from pdf, for Apple Flash is the magic ingredient making the takeover likely.

One catch: there is something that neither Bob nor I know about Adobe's relationship to Microsoft. The two companies have managed to steer clear of each other admirably over the years. Too admirably. Why has Microsoft never bothered to make a better photo software built in to Windows? Why did they take so long to come up with a plan (no product yet really) to hurt pdf or flash?

So I guess Bob is right with a caveat. I think this deal has to go via Microsoft. Let's not forget that Apple also lives under the mercy of Microsoft really. Apple is the perfect excuse of competition. With less than 3% of total world PC sales they get the media's attention and everyone pretending that Microsoft is not a monopoly.

If Apple doesn't buy Adobe it will be because they have to always pretend to be a small company. Mac users have to feel they belong to an elite of people in the know. Already with the iPod this is hard to maintain in some markets.

So this is not about business sense, in the straightforward, rational sense. It is about the pretend world of Steve Jobs and how he can pull his fans with him in something cool. Adobe is not cool. Adobe is a boring suit wearing company. If Jobs does it, he has to take an angle to keep his profile.

Alexander Chalkidis | Jan 16, 2008 | 9:14AM

Bob, funny how ZD Net quotes you, tacks on a couple comments and publishes it as their own article. At least they have the decency to give you credit.

http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=7571&tag=nl.e622

Mike | Jan 16, 2008 | 10:12AM

Hey Alexander,

I totally agree that Apple will never buy Adobe, but what you say about Adobe ( >> Adobe is not cool. Adobe is a boring suit wearing company

Sorry, but I simply couldn't let you get away with that.

Claudia | Jan 17, 2008 | 2:54PM

Ok, something or somebody has cut off my text.
Alex, it is just not true what you say about Adobe (as in my previous cite)

So, hope this text gets posted in full.

Claudia | Jan 17, 2008 | 3:04PM

I doubt this will happen, and I hope with every fiber of my being that it never happens.
- competition is good: Flash and QuickTime, Final Cut and Premier, Aperture and Lightroom
- Having Adobe apps on Windows is good.
- Merging huge companies tends to be bad. It was bad enough when Macromedia and Adobe merged. You could count, in days, the duration between that merger finalizing and Adobe giving up on SVG.
PS: I can barely read my Captcha. And the sound one is even worse.

brian | Jan 17, 2008 | 3:44PM

Until Adobe releases linux native versions of *all* of it's apps, desktop linux will never become mainstream. If apple buys adobe, that's the end of any chance desktop linux ever had.

bog | Jan 17, 2008 | 10:35PM

So here's what puzzles me: if Apple's a "content creation" company alone, and Jobs feels comfortable inviting his employees who are interested in IT to find other jobs, why does Apple have the Xserve product line? For that matter, Mac OS X Server?

P.S. Nice captcha on this one! "Filthy chains"! I have to go shower.

Brian | Jan 17, 2008 | 11:56PM

We may keep on guessing the outcome of a possible merger as its anybody's game. If you go wrong no one asks you (as it takes considerable time to know that the merger went bad) and if succeeds then you can always say "see I told you that". No matter of synergies, cultural fit or strategic fit can guarantee which company would acquire (HP-Compaq)or would not acquire (Microsoft SAP) which another company. So lets not speculate and watch for the big news if at all it would come.

Yugal Joshi | Jan 18, 2008 | 7:38AM

Not in a hundred thousand years. True, Apple doesn't "do IT" and is really in the content business - not hardware or software. There is too much baggage buying Adobe with weak products and a non-Apple culture. On the face of it, it may look like Adobe is in the content business, but really they are not.

Buying Adobe would put Apple's core business on the back burner for 2-5 years, depending on how bad things were. They would have to their eyes off of their mobile and media businesses, and quite frankly they have their hands full right now. Mergers happen because the buyer has a need to satisfy their ego (HP, Time Warner, Oracle, etc) and Steve Jobs just doesn't get his jollies from this sort of thing.

QB | Jan 18, 2008 | 9:12AM

Back in November '06, I talked about how Adobe could stave off Microsoft's encroachment into their back yard with a little tag-teaming from Apple.

I have no doubt that in the coming months, Adobe and Apple will utilize Microsoft's relative naiveté in their entry into the creative market as a stick to beat them with.

Now whether Apple would acquire Adobe is a big question for me, despite the apparently neat fit, both in terms of company culture and product match...

Wayne Smallman | Jan 22, 2008 | 8:12AM