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Adobe and Microsoft having creative differences? Part 5: end game

an image of the Adobe and Microsoft logosFor reasons best known to Apple, they pushed forward with the release of their Intel Macs, ahead of their previous release date. Given that Adobe doesn’t have a history of jumping through Apple’s hoops, why is it that Adobe seem to have caught the pace with their Creative Suite 3?

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.

In the fourth installment, I looked at how Adobe could look to Apple as a possible Plan B if Microsoft close their Windows to Plan A, that being Adobe’s primary market.

Adobe beta get a move on, Apple are waiting!

If it’s Apple pulling at one end, I wouldn’t be surprised if Microsoft weren’t pushing Adobe at the other:

“Thus far, graphics professionals have been slow to adopt the Intel-based Mac Pro workstations introduced by Apple this summer — a trend which both Apple and industry analysts have attributed to the lack of an Intel native version of Creative Suite for the Mac OS X operating system.

Though traditionally tight-lipped, [Adobe] the San Jose, Calif.-based software developer earlier this year came under immense pressure from its large Mac customer base to outline plans for Intel Mac support in its industry leading applications.

Like almost everyone else in the industry, Adobe was caught off guard by Apple’s decision in the summer of 2005 to make the jump from PowerPC to Intel processors.”


I’ll reiterate my previous statement: for reasons best known to Apple, they pushed forward with the release of their Intel Macs. But was Adobe really all that surprised?

“After some analysis, the company concluded that it would be most effective to support the Mac’s architectural changes as part of its ongoing development cycle of Creative Suite 3.0, rather than go back and re-release an Intel Mac version of Creative Suite 2.0.

‘This enables us to advance our technology at the aggressive pace that our customers expect, while also adding support for significant new system configurations,’ Adobe explained in a statement released in February. In the same disclosure, it also indicated that Creative Suite 3.0 was unlikely to ship for another 14 months.”

As PR guff goes, that sounds like spin of the highest order to me.

So we know that Apple and Adobe have had their differences, and additionally that Adobe has been making more and more money from the Windows side of things than from the traditional Apple store of customers with their Macs and PowerBooks, would Adobe pull out the stops just for Apple?

Incidentally, there’s no mention of Microsoft in the quoted Apple Insider article, which I’d say is either an oversight or a politik too far.

Anyway, with pressure like that being applied to Adobe, it’s not difficult to imagine them pulling out the stops for Apple, if only to put the wind up Microsoft. But to be honest, that might not work.

“People familiar with Adobe’s software strategy say the company plans to whet the appetites of its approximately 3 million creative professional customers with a public beta of Creative Suite 3.0 some time this month.”

I certainly don’t remember Adobe running any major public betas before now. But that might just be me not paying enough attention.

While I don’t see any short to medium term threat to Adobe’s creative market just yet, it’s best to plan ahead.

Earlier today I commented on an article elsewhere and I’ve just realized I was wrong. I said: “Look out for feature hold-back on the Windows side” of Adobe’s software offerings.

Looking at that comment now, I see how foolish that would be. Rather than spite Microsoft, Adobe would only give their own customers running Adobe software on Windows a reason to move to Microsoft’s Expression suite rather move to a Mac.

In any case, there’s no doubt that Adobe and Apple have much to gain from working out their minor differences and working more closely together in the coming months and years.

If someone is going to lose, Adobe have the furthest to fall.

So here’s my off-the-cuff sort of educated guesstimate of how Adobe and Microsoft will finish up

Microsoft will inevitably make some in-roads, but mainly into the markets they already occupy within their developer communities. In addition, to foster market share growth, Microsoft will consider making free, feature-reduced versions of the Microsoft Expression range of creative software, but that won’t wash with Adobe or the courts who will interpret such a move as being monopolistic.

What with Adobe starting to make sense of their acquisition of Macromedia by beginning to pull together the likes of DreamWeaver, Photoshop, Flash and Illustrator, the smart money is on Adobe and their decades of experiences winning out in the long run.

Meanwhile, back at 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, California, Apple will trundle along doing what only they know best, none the worse or the wiser for their part in any of this.

Not quite the photo finish, nor a picture-perfect ending, but a colourful encounter none-the-less…

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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