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Adobe and Microsoft having creative differences? Part 4: future war

an image of the Adobe and Microsoft logosRight now, Adobe needs Microsoft. They need their Windows franchise because most of their customers use Windows. Dilemma. But what if Apple can help Adobe through this coming creative block and possibly become Adobe’s next muse?

In the first installment, I looked at the history of Adobe Flash and the factors that prompted the buy-out of Macromedia by Adobe.

In the second installment, I looked at the clash of formats and how standards pave the way for many things, including market share growth.

In the third installment, I looked at how Adobe struck out at Microsoft when they took the standards war to the next level by forging links with Mozilla Foundation.

From a historical perspective, Apple and Adobe have a story to tell. A very long story as it happens. A story too long for this ‘ere article.

Anyway, it’s enough to say that Adobe needed Apple and Apple wouldn’t be around if it hadn’t been for Adobe. So their successes are as result of their mutual historical need for each other.

Things haven’t been all white wine and roses between Apple and Adobe of late. What with a minor spat over the use of the PDF format within Mac OS X .. which is itself as a result of Apple stepping into the creative software market with the high-end video editing package Final Cut (which incidentally, Apple bought – developers n’all – from Macromedia .. incestuous, I know!) there’s some patching up to be done, but nothing that can’t be fixed.

However, like any relationship, first dibs on the bathroom in the morning and the tug-of-war over the bed sheets last thing at night are quarrels soon forgotten.

So let’s go a speculatin’!

Adobe recently inked a deal with Mozilla, which I imagine is principally an effort to get Flash working even better with their Firefox web browser.

Then there’s Apple, who right now are also poised on the cusp of some kind of market share ascendancy, either gradual or gargantuan, depending on which analyst you choose to listen to.

Timing is everything. No matter what industry you’re in, timing is key to success or conversely, to failure.

What with Firefox going places at the expense of Internet Explorer, Microsoft’s own web browser, the timing would have seemed good for Adobe to sign a deal with Mozilla to get their efforts recognized and spread hither & yonder, wherever the fair wind blows Firefox, Thunderbird et al.

Now, you could be argumentative and say that the market share Apple is likely to gain isn’t the kind Adobe would find useful, no matter how large.

And I might agree with you to some degree, but Apple’s core markets are a triumvirate of Education, Home and Creative. The first and last being the markets which Adobe also operate within themselves.

Currently, in terms of operating system sales, Apple has a pifflingly small market share compared to Microsoft. Too small for Adobe to give any serious consideration to right now.

But that’s now, and right now, we’re talking about the future. Specifically, the next three to five years.

There are those who aren’t so concerned by Apple’s relatively small market share. The first of which is Apple themselves, but there are others, too:

“In the markets where Apple actually wants to compete, the Mac’s market share is certainly higher than 2 percent. While I reiterate that it’s important for Apple to grow, there’s no need for hand-wringing.”

And besides, Adobe can’t be too concerned either, or Microsoft for that matter, both companies making sound profits from the sale of their various software offerings for the Mac, including Adobe Creative Suite and Microsoft Office

Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.

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