Saturday, November 03, 2007

Apple acquiring Adobe would be a bad thing

As I was perusing Slashdot today I came across this article that proposed that Apple should purchase Adobe. On first blush this sort of makes some sense and the author makes most of the sensible points pretty convincingly. I use Apple and Adobe products everyday - several thousand dollars worth of each every day - so I'm very familiar and biased towards the goodness of each. My problem with this idea of Apple buying Adobe isn't with the concept of two great companies working together as one, but rather that it eliminates some of the market. I am by no means an expert on market forces or economic competition and I don't play one on tv, but it seems that taking Adobe out of the mix would push Apple less and would push Adobe to innovate less.

As a case in point, a couple of years ago Adobe purchased Macromedia - the makers of fine software like Dreamweaver and Flash (both the best of their breed in their respective niches). Before the purchase Adobe was working on competing products GoLive vs. Dreamweaver and Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) vs. Flash. All four were great products, but Dreamweaver and Flash were definitely the better products. So what did Adobe do, they bought the competition. So now GoLive is history and SVG has been left to the open source world to possibly enhance. Dreamweaver and Flash have gotten better, but not noticeably so - despite the fact that Flash is almost inescapable in our current web environment.

The question is then, would Adobe get better if Apple purchased them? Adobe's flagship programs (Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign and the previously mentioned Dreamweaver and Flash) are already without competition. Sure there are other products that try to do the same things, but hardly any of them are nearly as good or compete any more - with the possible exception of Quark even though they're pretty stagnate in terms of market share. At this point Adobe and Apple are pushing each other to be better - especially in the area of pro-photography with competing programs Lightroom (Adobe) and Aperture (Apple). If they were to become one company the market forces that make each of them have to innovate to retain the creative professional market would disintegrate and they would be worse for it. So, I think this would be a bad thing as much as it might sound great from an Apple/Adobe devotee perspective.


shadowmom1 said...

You make a persuasive argument.

Nomad said...

I agree 100%. Adobe and Apple are not a good fit, and the more competition in an area, generally, the better.