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Cringely Posits Adobe's Purchase by Apple 245

An anonymous reader writes to mention another Robert Cringely piece discussing Apple's future. In his latest article, he lays out some goals for Apple on its quest to desktop dominance. An important link in this chain is Apple's purchase of Adobe Systems. From the article: "Adobe has already made one feint away from Mac development that required personal pressure from Steve Jobs on John Warnock to reverse. If Apple kinda-sorta embraces Windows enough for Adobe to question whether continued development for the native OS X platform is still warranted, well, then Apple WILL just become another Dell, which isn't what Steve Jobs wants. Steve wants Windows applications to run like crazy on his hybrid platform but to look like crap. In his heart of hearts, he'd still like to beat Microsoft on the merits, not just by leveraging some clever loophole. So he needs the top ISVs who are currently writing for OS X to continue writing for OS X, and that especially means Adobe."
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Cringely Posits Adobe's Purchase by Apple

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  • Wow. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by neoshroom ( 324937 ) on Friday April 28, 2006 @02:19PM (#15222597)
    I think this is the first time Cringley is on to something. What he is onto isn't this Apple buying Adobe thing though. Its the following quote from the article stub:

    Steve wants Windows applications to run like crazy on his hybrid platform but to look like crap. In his heart of hearts, he'd still like to beat Microsoft on the merits, not just by leveraging some clever loophole.

    OS X running Windows apps in ugly gray, thats what he is onto. Its coming.

    Elephant Essays [] - Cover Letters, Research Papers, Editing
  • by network23 ( 802733 ) * on Friday April 28, 2006 @02:24PM (#15222641) Journal

    Apple co-founded Adobe and owned part of Adobe.

    This would be the perfect deal. And then the sweet "sorry, we're cancelling Photoshop for Windows since there is no demand for a PC version".

    They have done that before too.

    We live in interesting times. And I love it.

  • Re:Wow. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by drgroove ( 631550 ) on Friday April 28, 2006 @02:30PM (#15222683)
    I agree completely. If Apple has access to the API as Cringley has stated in his past two articles, Apple in theory could enable OSX to launch WinXP apps inside a process similar to how it ran "Classic Mode" for OS9 apps. Imagine that, though - WinXP apps running inside OSX without XP itself running.

    Given that Vista isn't due until '07, and most orgs are still running apps from the Win2k days, being able to run Win2k/XP apps w/in a more secure OS would certainly be an attractive offering.
  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Friday April 28, 2006 @02:47PM (#15222770) Homepage Journal
    I think the theory is that if Windows binaries run on MacOS, but not vice versa, and Adobe customers don't really have anywhere else to go, then Adobe is not seriously risking much of their gross sales, but their margins go way up. In effect, any cross platform glitches become Apple's problem.
  • by Nom du Keyboard ( 633989 ) on Friday April 28, 2006 @02:48PM (#15222779)
    they do NOT want to be another Dell.

    And you've read Steve Job's mind on this. That he'd rather have tiny market share than be the biggest PC retailer (remember Apple is a hardware vendor) in the world. Yeah, that's the Steve we know -- thinking small as usual.

  • by j79 ( 875929 ) on Friday April 28, 2006 @02:51PM (#15222811)
    FTA: The biggest winner: Apple, which gained nearly a full percentage point in market share after reporting a 43% increase in unit shipments. The full PC Review: January 2006 report is available from IDC.

    It may be lower than 5 years ago, but the future is looking quite good...
  • by brokeninside ( 34168 ) on Friday April 28, 2006 @03:03PM (#15222903)
    A good number of people use Adobe tools, especially Acrobat, because they're cross platform. If Adobe were to ditch OS X as a platform, I'd be quite surprised if they didn't lose market share on Windows. It's kind of like IT companies selling round the clock support. Very few companies will ever /use/ the after-hours support, but they go with the companies that offer it to increase their options should they ever need it. Another good parallel is the Wendy's tripple patty hamburger. Few people order it, but a significant number of people go to Wendy's simply because they /could/ order it should they ever want to.
  • A better thesis: (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ZoneGray ( 168419 ) on Friday April 28, 2006 @03:12PM (#15222969) Homepage
    Here's my take. Aperture wasn't doing well, and it was competing against Adobe's Lightroom. Apple, meanwhile, is anxious for Adobe CS3 to ship, which currently is scheduled for Q1 of 2007. But Apple wants it in time for Christmas sales. In their last quarterly report, Apple execs said that they're working with Adobe to accelerate the launch of CS3, if possible, and that the lack of Universal software from Adobe was holding back sales of the Intel Macs. So I think they made a deal. Maybe we'll see the CS3 launch advanced.

    Makes more sense than a freaking acquisition.
  • by noewun ( 591275 ) on Friday April 28, 2006 @03:45PM (#15223203) Journal
    Maybe the ROI they're making on those sales isn't worth it. If you use that capital to make even more than $400 mill., then it'd be better to make the money work elsewhere.

    Maybe. I have no way of knowing what it costs Adobe to make Mac software, but I would imagine it isn't too high: all of Adobe's Mac products are Carbon/Codewarrior: I think Photoshop CS2 is, essentially, Photoshop 7 tarted up with some new features. Certainly 7 was the last version which could be called a must-have upgrade, and there is very little you can do in CS 2 which you can't do in 7. But this is begining to trend into another thread, which is what I see as Adobe's slow and steady quality decline.

    Now, considering that the next versions of Adobe's stuff for the Mac has to be seriously reworked, maybe they are looking at their bottom line and thinking if it's worth it. Were I Adobe I'd be careful, though, as I think that both InDesign and Illustrator are targets for someone who would write a proper OS X app using Apple's CoreImage stuff.

  • by zoomzit ( 860737 ) on Friday April 28, 2006 @03:45PM (#15223211)
    Well, Apple is expanding, but it isn't for the Adobe folks. Adobe has a huge and very nice campus 10 miles from Apple. If Apple did buy Adobe, they'd keep the Adobe people where they are at.

    If you drive around Cupertino, you will see that Apple is renting a massive amount of office space for their workers because they can't fit everyone at Infinite Loop. Most of the new space Apple is buying will be for their existing people, not because they need to fit in a new group of people after a merger.

    If anything, Apple announcing the new campus points AGAINST Apple buying adobe. If Apple bought Adobe, Apple would also have access to Adobe's "not nearly full" campus and could house the excess Apple employees there, instead of blowing $700 Mil on the expansion.

  • by aristotle-dude ( 626586 ) on Friday April 28, 2006 @04:19PM (#15223475)
    "And you've read Steve Job's mind on this. That he'd rather have tiny market share than be the biggest PC retailer (remember Apple is a hardware vendor) in the world. Yeah, that's the Steve we know -- thinking small as usual."

    Ok let's put it this way. Which would you rather be, the largest PC manufacturer with 1 billion annually in profit or the third or fourth largest manufacturer with 6 billion profit annually and the admiration of the media and the general public? I would choose the latter.

    Markshare at the expense profit is bad business.

  • by X4NR-EH ( 971604 ) on Friday April 28, 2006 @04:26PM (#15223544) Homepage
    Purchasing Adobe is a tempting idea, but I'm not sure that it is a business Apple wants to be in -- I think it would take up too much of Apple's attention and resources to orchestrate and would impact their current momentum.

    A much more likely scenario I see would be for Apple to increase the OS X market share in order to continue to attract software developers. However Apple won't do this with a wholesale licensing plan to all PC vendor, with Apple doing all the driver development as many are calling for. That would be a mess for Apple having to maintain all of the various drivers. It would impact OS X in a negative way.

    Rather, Apple will selectively pick two or three PC maker-partners and licenses the OS X security chip technology to them with the caveat that the partner, Dell and Sony are the most likely, would handle their own drivers. That gives Apple three key things - 1) important new distribution channels, 2) a break from the "single vendor" fear that enterprise worries about, and 3) important validation and increased credibility as THE major leader in IT and PC technology.

    Normally a hardware vendor would baulk at that, but right now Apple may have just enough traction to make it attractive to some PC makers. After all, Macs are currently own all top 5 spots on for most popular computers and 7 of the top 10 spots. Dell has already expressed interest in selling OS X on Dell hardware. Apple and Sony have a strong and recently renewed relationship.

    A "Dell-flavored" or "Sony-flavored" OS X would not be movable to another system from another hardware maker, but that's good for the PC partner because it means that people buy complete systems and peripherals from the partner.

    Apple obviously wants more market share -- enough to remain relevant, but I don't see them wanting to be any more than 10 or 12 percent. (Forester projects they will double in market share over the next year or two.) I believe Apple wants to continue to lead innovation, be profitable, and grab a comfortable piece of the Enterprise business to cement their long-term existence. But profit is more important to Apple than market share because profit drives R&D which drives innovation.
  • I like the color... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by J. Random Luser ( 824671 ) on Friday April 28, 2006 @04:55PM (#15223788)
    of Cringely's balloon, but I don't know how far it'll fly:
    Now if Apple's old cross-licensing deal with Microsoft also gives them compatibility with the older binary Office formats, it could give them something not even Microsoft has at the moment -- support for ALL Microsoft Office formats, past, present, and future.
    My emphasis added. So Cringeley is admitting he doesn't know the detail of permitted backwards compatability in the cross-licensing deal. And I have a curley one for him: I have people in this office who are still using MS Word 5.1 in Classic mode on MacOS 10.4, because it is faster and more reliable than Office 11. I would dearly love to move these people to OOo, yes even the clunky X-11 version. But while Office 11 & 2k3 can read Word 5 files, OOo 2.0 cannot ....
  • by rblum ( 211213 ) on Friday April 28, 2006 @06:02PM (#15224274)
    A 'tag' is nothing but a majority vote. That means a large percentage of the readers things Cringley's posts are trolling. If you don't like it, deal.

    Tagging is about the benefit for the community, not for your personal benefit.
  • by ynotds ( 318243 ) on Friday April 28, 2006 @08:47PM (#15225130) Homepage Journal
    We were Adobe's Australian representatives and an Apple VAR for a while early on and I spent enough time at Adobe that I even had a temporary desk there at one point. The working relationship between Apple and Adobe at the time was as close as it gets.

    The only other licensee that was talked about from the beginning was Linotype and, from memory, relatively obscure companies like DataProducts and QMS were next to market with PostScript printers. That is all a while before Adobe acquired PhotoShop. When we took them on, their only distribution product was typeface (font) packs, but internally developed Illustrator was on the horizon.

    Apple sold their 20% a few years down the track quite publicly. That may have had something to do with Apple and M$ getting together on TrueType to undercut PostScript in certain sectors, but I wasn't as closely involved by then.
  • by Nice2Cats ( 557310 ) on Friday April 28, 2006 @10:34PM (#15225534)
    Everytime somebody says something about Apple wanting to "dominate the desktop", stop reading. In certain ways, Apple is just like a certain German car company, Porsche: They make fantastically engineered, kick-ass cool products for the high end of the market, and they make a killing financially while doing so. Porsche doesn't want to become another Ford or GM (take a look at GM to see why) and Apple doesn't want to be a Dell (take a look at a Dell to see why). Not everybody wants to rule the world, because it usually doesn't make business sense.

    This whole "wants to be the biggest" thing is beyond me, unless it has something to do with Freudian hangups on the part of the commentators. Get over it.

I was playing poker the other night... with Tarot cards. I got a full house and 4 people died. -- Steven Wright