Microsoft in talks to buy Adobe - alliance against Apple looms


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On September 9, Apple and Adobe reached a tentative agreement to resolve their feud over Flash, which causes elements of websites (from the Stuff Quiz to various advertisements) to not display on an iPhone or iPad.

Specifically, Apple lifted a ban on developers using Adobe Flash for iPad and iPhone apps - widely seen as a precursor to full-blown Flash support in iPhone and iPad's Safari web browsers.

Adobe investors cheered (the company's shares jumped 12% on the day), and mobile users the world over breathed a sigh of relief.

Not so fast.

This is the technology industry, remember, where things can never be easy - especially at the nexus where it intersects with publishing.

Enter Microsoft, which has made an out-of-the-blue offer to buy Adobe, according to the New York Times.

On Friday, the paper reported an hour-long secret meeting had taken place between the chief executives of the two companies, with a friendly takeover on the agenda.

As things stand, Microsoft is pushing Silverlight, it's alternative to Adobe's Flash, as well as the open HTML5 standard.

Developers, publishers and readers will now have to wait and see whether Microsoft does buy Adobe, and whether the combined company will continue Adobe's putative peace-pact with Apple - or, emboldened, derail the détente and go to war.

Complicating the picture further: on Monday (US time), Microsoft is due to unveil its new Windows Phone 7 mobile platform - handsets based on which will go head-to-head with Apple's iPhone. 

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3 Comments & Questions

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So the question is: If Microsoft owned Adobe drops support for the Mac platform, is it easier to retrain all your staff to use a different set of product creation software, or to retrain them to use Windows 7.

For all the hoopla about Apples market share gain, they're still less than 10% of the market - albiet higher in the "creative" sector. Dropping the need to spend 50% of your product development time can only improve Adobe's bottom line.

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I've always firmly believed that high level management are on a different planet to those workers in the real world. I'm a Mac and Adobe user in the professional graphic design and photography industry, this sort of take over concerns me. While the concept of a take over may be good for VPs, Execs and shareholders, there is alot of uncertainty, as well as the potential for having to either 1: buy entirely new hardware and retrain staff or 2: buy entirely new software and still have to train staff due to some decision made in a board room somewhere. Either way... that will only decrease a company's bottom line.

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Multi-platform support is no where near 50% of their development time. The notion is rediculous. Dropping 40% of your sales to save 10% on your development time is stupid.

Secondly, you can bet Apple have a plan for this, either with secret in-house applications, or by buying competing products (Corel, for example), and pumping in cash and development time. That would seriously hurt Adobe.

No, any buyout would be bad for Adobe as an entity.

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