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Summary:

The New York Times is reporting that two companies with good reason to fear Apple’s growing influence in the tech industry recently got together to talk business. The hour-long meeting saw Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer meet Adobe chief Shantanu Narayen at Adobe HQ.

ballmer-narayen

The New York Times’ Bits blog is reporting that two companies with very good reason to fear Apple’s growing influence in the tech industry recently got together to discuss the current state of affairs. The hour-long meeting saw Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer meet Adobe chief Shantanu Narayen at Adobe HQ in San Jose, Calif.

On the agenda were discussions of Apple’s control of the mobile market, and what the two companies might be able to do together to make sure Cupertino didn’t go unchallenged in that space. According to the NYT’s sources, which it cites as employees and consultants to both companies involved with the discussions, one of the topics of conversation was a possible acquisition of Adobe by Microsoft.

In the past, Microsoft had considered an Adobe acquisition, but didn’t think the move would hold up, owing to antitrust fears by industry regulators. Now that Microsoft isn’t the biggest kid on the blog any longer, and considering the rate at which Google and Apple have been buying up companies, an Adobe purchase is probably worth a second look for Redmond.

A spurned Adobe is the perfect target for Microsoft’s overtures. First, Apple’s complete shutout of Flash from its wildly popular iOS mobile platform must mean that Adobe is missing out on an incredible amount of potential revenue. And even though Apple recently relaxed its App Store rules to allow apps created with third-party tools like Adobe’s Packager, Narayen admits that the resulting effect on his company’s bottom line has been negligible.

Whether Microsoft actually does end up acquiring Adobe, or just forms a much closer partnership with the interactive media firm, both would be an effective means of striking at Apple. The Mac-maker’s roots are in creative tech, after all, and Adobe is a huge part of that legacy, whether or not Apple is willing to admit it. Try to find a photography or design professional who doesn’t use Adobe’s Creative Suite in some capacity.

In a worst-case scenario for Apple, Microsoft would buy Adobe, and though it probably wouldn’t be able to make CS Windows platform-specific, it could hobble the software on OS X the same way it seems to have done with MS Office in the past. A slow erosion of Apple’s creative user base could also undermine the reasons it became a success to begin with: “Think Different” is a slogan born of the Mac’s appeal to the artistically minded.

On the other hand, Apple’s focus is moving more and more toward the consumer market and away from creative professionals, thanks to the growing success of iOS devices. It might be content to let the chips fall where they may with Microsoft and Adobe, since neither seems like a significant player in the mobile market at this juncture, even with Windows Phone 7 poised to drop just next week.

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  1. If MS does buy Adobe, it could be akin to the Chrysler-Benz merger. Different cultures in these outfits would be a big problem. It could help, rather than hurt, Apple. There would be a lot of pressure on Apple to upgrade/build their own creative suite; suddenly disenchanted/unemployed engineers from Adobe would make such an effort possible.

    In my view, the HP-Palm is more of a threat to Apple, as it is a complementary
    merger: a hardware firm buying a software company. This is more like Apple’s business model than a confluence of two software makers.

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  2. Microsoft where companies go to die.

    Yes, I think this is perfect for Adobe.

    This move gives Apple all the reason they need to replace Photoshop and all with a modern replacements, so all Adobe products can be left to die as natural a death as the curse of Microsoft allows.

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  3. Not trying to bash MS here, but it sincerely gnaws on me that they have to ‘team’ up with other big names to make anything happen (or make the news for that matter).

    Honestly, they need to get rid of Ballmer. He is the rust in a very large cog of wheels and I wish the board would boot him out.

    I also agree that HP-Palm is more of a threat…so is Google…but Microsoft? Nah…they are just the kids that wanna be like everyone else.

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  4. It would be a great disaster in my opinion as a creative, if an acquisition were to take place. Even a very close partnership. Yes apple could produce a very nice creative suite, but I’m sorry folks, in the design world Adobe is what people use and have.

    You send a file to a print company, either built from an adobe application or quark application. I could just see the mess a third vendor would create, even if it were Apple.

    The mass amounts of users Adobe would potentially lose, or upset is astronomical due to the Mac’s popularity in the creative fields.

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  5. Truly amazing the arrogance of both these companies. This is a meeting that the justice department should look into as it is consistent with MSFT’s previous anti-competitive behavior. This move reminds one of the MSFT AVID relationship where MSFT prompted AVID to dump the Apple platform on which they were built in favor of what turned out to be MSFT vaporware.

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  6. Truly amazing the arrogance of both these companies. This is a meeting that the justice department should look into as it is consistent with MSFT’s previous anti-competitive behavior. This move reminds one of the MSFT AVID relationship where MSFT coerced AVID into dumping the Apple platform on which they were built in favor of what turned out to be MSFT vaporware.

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  7. A day late and a dollar too much.

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  8. At the present time I couldn’t care less if this deal happens. I lost respect for Adobe years ago. Anymore Adobe software is bloated, buggy, pricey and cumbersome. It’s as if Adobe and Mircosoft are really made for each other. I still cling to a smidgen of hope Adobe can turn itself around. However if Microsoft gobbles up Adobe, it’ll never happen. At that point Adobe will truly be dead to me.

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  9. This does raise an interesting issue… I’m quite sure that Apple don’t want to buy Adobe, as they would be forced to continue development for multiple platforms of many of their technologies and therefore not have full and total control over it – but at the same time, the thought of Microsoft taking over Adobe would be a massive blow to Apple, so would Apple move first, purely on the defensive? Either way, I think Adobe stand to lose the most here – they would not integrate well with Microsoft at all, and while culturally they have a lot more in common with Apple, I doubt that’s a match made in heaven either. Ideally, I’d prefer to see Adobe stay independent of both.

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