Adobe, Stop Being a Wussy

Adobe, Stop Being a Wussy

Summary: Adobe Systems has been operating as a vassal state of Apple and Steve Jobs since its very inception.


Adobe Systems has been operating as a vassal state of Apple and Steve Jobs since its very inception. But with relations becoming strained between the two companies, is it finally time for Adobe to play hardball?

Ah, Adobe. Poor Adobe.

Things between Adobe and Apple used to be just peachy. Indeed, almost from the very day the company formed in 1982, it was destined to be the premier supplier of content creation software for the Macintosh, which launched only two years later, in 1984. We all remember what happened in 1984, at least those of us who aren't Milennials.

Click on the "Read the rest of this entry link below" for more.

First, it was their vector graphics drawing application Illustrator in 1986, and then came Photoshop in 1987 for bitmap editing and painting, which quickly seated the Macintosh as the chosen content creation platform for Advertising and other forms of commercial graphic arts, setting it apart from Windows. Indeed, Adobe eventually ported Photoshop to Windows and made great strides in that market, but the Mac version was always the favorite child.

Adobe followed on in later years with Premiere Pro for video editing, and began to acquire other Macintosh-centric desktop publishing software companies such as Aldus and Frame Technologies to compete with Quark and as a result effectively dominate the content creation market.

In 2005, Adobe purchased Macromedia in a $3.4 billion stock swap which added many other content creation and web development products to their portfolio, such as DreamWeaver, Fireworks, Flash and FLEX. While all of these products run on Windows, again, these were "Killer apps" which greatly contributed to the success of the Mac platform.

All of this is established history. Adobe had an excellent relationship with Apple for many years, and one could argue that the company might not have thrived as much as it did without the Macintosh. But that was then, and this is now.

February, 2010. Relations between Adobe and Apple are becoming increasingly strained, particularly over the issue of Apple's exclusion of Flash from the iPhone/iPod Touch and the forthcoming iPad.

Adobe is now at a serious inflection point in its history. For years, it was Apple's darling. To quote the great savant philosopher, Forrest Gump, "Me and Jenny goes together like peas and carrots". If Adobe's recent blog comments are any indication, things are not peas and carrots anymore.

Indeed, Adobe makes a very good business out of its Macintosh product line. But this would only perpetuate its vassal/doormat status with Apple.

Today, Adobe needs to make some difficult decisions, and I beleive those decisions should include a phased in divorce from Apple and some self-reliance of its own.

I have made this recommendation before, but with with a different company, Microsoft. I still believe Microsoft should cease development on Microsoft Office for Mac, and given the fact that Apple has chosen to go iJuche with their own office suite on the iPad, I believe this gives Microsoft even more justification for doing so, particularly as it is not entirely out of the question that Redmond may decide to build an iPad competitor with Windows 7 Phone OS, like I proposed with the "ZuneBook".

Starting today, Adobe should announce that as of a future date -- let's call this April 1st, 2012 or 2013, depending on how generous they want to be (with me leaning towards the 2012 rather than the 2013) that support for all of their Macintosh applications will cease.

As of today, Adobe should announce that it will complete development on Mac versions of products in progress, but after they are released, they will no longer develop anything more for Mac or for Apple device platforms. The new strategic platforms for Adobe going forward will include Google's Android and Windows 7 Phone OS on mobile, with Microsoft Windows as the preferred client desktop.

To be nice to their loyal customers, they should offer competitive cross-license upgrades and transfers to Windows, and possibly consider Linux a strategic next-generation platform for content creation as well.

Maybe it's a bit out of the box, but I certainly could see Adobe partnering with a player like Canonical in building an "Ubuntu Adobe Edition" with commercial package feeds of ports of all the Mac apps and content development tools. Perhaps even acquire a company with serious cross platform coding expertise like Opera Software, who has used the Open Source Qt development framework to build past versions of their Linux browser. Adobe has also used Qt in various pieces of their own software such as Photoshop Elements.

And if Linux desktops sound a bit too wacky, this would also be a good time for Adobe to patch things up with Microsoft. The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

I'm not sure Adobe and Microsoft will ever see eye to eye on Flash versus Silverlight, but who knows. When opportunity knocks, even the most dangerous of rivals can sometimes unite for a common goal. In this case, it's containment of their biggest competition.

[poll id="19"]

Is a complete divorce of Adobe from Apple too extreme, or should it finally start playing hardball and recant its oath of fealty to the Hermit Kingdom of Cupertino? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

Topics: Windows, Apple, Enterprise Software, Hardware, Operating Systems, Software


Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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  • a bunch of cagey predators

    The dynamics between MSFT, Apple, Google, and Adobe is pretty interesting to watch. I think that Apple is gonna end up building even higher walls around itself and pissing everyone off. It doesn't seem like they can play with anybody, kinda like that kid on the playground that is so annoying that nobody wants to play with him, or his ball.

    While your prescription for Adobe to cut Apple off sounds good, and in my opinion would be a great idea, the Mac user base would scream bloody murder. But maybe that's the point, eh?

    Whatever happens, the next few years are going to be very interesting to see how these 800 lb gorillas work it out.
    Steve G.H.
    • Yep

      Apple geeks are stuck up idiots let them build there walls and see it a trojan horse will get in ;-0
      • Learn to read.

        [b] [/b]
        • I read it just fine..

          I know you are a little slow more than likey rode the short bus as a kid and i will forgive you for it. And more than likely are a mac user umm can't forgive you for that one...
          • You can't read, and you also can't write.

            He said Adobe is going to cut off Apple, not the other way around.

            Also, if you're going to try to insult someone's intelligence, you seriously ought to get a basic grasp of the language being used (English, in this case) first. You've made a complete fool of yourself.
    • Interesting

      Apple is pushing HTML 5. Open CL. Open GL. H.264. All of which are
      open standards. And yet, it is Apple being accused of building the
      proprietary wall?

      Amazing how people let their ideologies rule their reason.
      • Apple=King of Propietary Procedure

        Everything about Apple has been proprietary since day 1. Only now, when it is in their best interests, do they have any taste for open standards. That's ok. That's business. But to act as if Apple isn't proprietary seems silly. Actually, now that I think about it, it sounds like something a politician would say.
        No one special
        • Proprietary vs proprietary = users lose

          This is exactly what happens when one
          proprietary system geared solely to make it's
          company money (Apple and it's iPhone OS-iTunes
          combination) conflicts with another (Adobe and
          it's bid to make proprietary Flash the defacto
          standard programming interface for web apps.)
          Proprietary stuff just sucks. Don't know any
          other way to put it. But I think it's just
          poetic justice that people who allow a company
          like Apple to rule their computing world with
          completely abhorrent closed proprietary tactics
          get burned by another company doing exactly the
          same thing.
          Reap what you sew.
          • total bs

            first: the iphone is a product. you can decide to buy it or not.
            second: iTunes and it's store is a program and service you can choose to
            use. i can freely buy all my music from amazon or use pandora. you can
            buy any mp3-player you want. no open or closed here.

            flash is a proprietary format that is widely used on the net. it has become
            kind of a standard. apple is opposing that situation for a majority of
            reasons and pushing for more open alternatives instead. isn't it strange
            that all the "open" apologetics fight tooth and nails over adobe's
            proprietary software mess?

            by the way: who is also crying foul because you can't use your xbox 360
            games on a ps3? wow, that is closed!
      • Apple is open

        That's why you can change your iPod's battery at will, install anything you want on your iPhone without going through the App store (but who would want to do that since the App store is open to all sorts of apps, not just a select gruop that Apple chooses), upgrade any internal component in your Mac at will, install OSX on any PC, not just those that bear the silver fruit.

        Yep. Apple is open.
        • Apple open ? Really?

          Hmmm wow didnt know that considering they run the app store like the nazi gustopal. They even just annouced how much more limititations they are putting on apps allowed. Great to hear apple is open so that means I will be able to run windows on my iphone now too right? Oh wait nope...and for the batteries quick change right glad to hear as many i repair have soldered in batteries to discourage self repair...Oh and isnt it apple who has built a notebook with a non replaceable battery hidden inside that when it runs out or goes bad make you buy a whole new laptop yeah thats fair and opened lol
          • I agree; they're almost as far from open as Microsoft.

            [b] [/b]
          • Technically Worse

            You also have an OS that's locked into over priced hardware, most of which in the Apple line up must be upgraded basically by buying all new equip. For the iphone/ipod the battery issue is a really big one too.
          • Technically Better

            At least they support an open standard for software rather than trying to get everything made using proprietary crap like DirectX that is nigh on impossible to port.

            Ya, the iPhone might not run Windows.. so? Does the Microsoft Windows Mobile run OSX?
          • why do some PeeCee Weenies...

            ... try to talk about something they know nothing about?
            Funny how it exposes their intellect through not being able to spell and
            messages fraught with grammatical errors!!! LOL!
            Even funnier... they don't even recognize it! Kinda like Dubya trying to be
            verbally competent!
            Dave Mount
          • Over priced?

            If it was "over priced" it wouldn't sell, such is the nature of capitalism.

            Apple are selling more Macs than ever in their history.

            Economics, supply, demand and all that stuff.
          • @hill60

            What about the ISP cartel in the U.S.?
            Internet access is overpriced as hell here, yet
            most people buy it nonetheless.
          • Excuse me?

            What on earth is a "gustopal"? A friend who eats with you?
          • lol

            [i]What on earth is a "gustopal"? A friend who eats with you? [/i]

            That was pretty good. (no sarcasm there)
          • Aaaand... Sarcasm

            Did you actually read what I wrote?

            It doesn't seem like you did.