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The Following is Archived and Preserved from QuarkVSInDesign.com, 2003–2009.

Enough Whining About the Adobe-Macromedia Merger

Recently, Quark VS InDesign.com reader Woz mentioned his concern over the Adobe-Macromedia merger because of an editorial he found on the blog Daring Fireball. Fortunately for Woz, that editorial was riddled with incorrect facts and erroneous conclusions.

Jon Gruber’s rants are often interesting because of his writing style and manner of presenting a compelling case (even if his facts are completely wrong). You just have to be careful to do your own research before believing any facts he presents (you should research any editorial, especially online, before believing it, mine included). His editorial, “the Fish Rots from the Head First,” is a compelling example of why independent research is needed before accepting Gruber”™s conclusions or intimations.

For example, Gruber accuses Adobe of a brown thumb, saying that the applications they acquire wither and die, like PageMaker:

Adobe does not have a good track record with acquired applications. E.g. they acquired PageMaker and it died; they created InDesign on their own, and it”™s thriving. They acquired GoLive years ago, and while it”™s still around and admittedly has its adherents, no one can argue that it”™s successful in the way their print-oriented apps are.

His facts are completely in error here, as you’ll instantly recognize if you read “A Brief History of the Desktop Publishing War” or if you”™ve done any research into the numerous other sources of correct data.

Aldus built PageMaker, as even Gruber knows. But, Aldus was also the one to order the death of PageMaker in 1993, not Adobe. Aldus, not Adobe, created InDesign–at least the foundation–and InDesign was created for the express purpose of replacing PageMaker. Then code-named K2, InDesign was the primary reason for the acquisition of Aldus by Adobe. Premiere and AfterEffects were also big motivators, but K2 was the crown jewel. After the acquisition, the same Aldus programmers continued to build InDesign until it”™s release. Adobe’s Seattle office, from which nearly all of the InDesign development team still works, was the Aldus office (well, they moved once since then), and the developers were, at least through version CS, nearly all the original Aldus K2 programmers. Many of them had also worked on PageMaker throughout the years.

For the record, the only current creative pro applications Adobe developed completely in-house were Illustrator and Acrobat. Everything else–Photoshop, InDesign, FrameMaker, GoLive, LiveCycle, Audition, Premiere, AfterEffects, and others–was acquired technology. Of course, no one uses that lousy AfterEffects or the all-but forgotten Photoshop any more. Clearly, Jon, you’re right: Adobe has a terrible track record with acquired technologies.

An optimist might argue that Adobe has purchased Macromedia specifically to fill the web-sized hole in the product line-up, but I think it”™s more likely they”™ve done it just to get bigger for the sake of being a bigger company.

To suggest that the world’s then third-largest software company would spend $3.4b just because it could is naive and ludicrous. Like many other commentators, Gruber is worried that his favorite Macromedia products will change or disappear. It’s a valid fear, but a foolish argument to express that fear.

Yes, Adobe’s near total lack of… (Continued on Next Page)

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7 Responses

  1. woz says:

    Normally this is the part where I write something really smart and whitty, but I can’t think of anything to add. It sure looks like you’ve got the big picture allright, Pariah. Perhaps John Gruber’s got something to add?

  2. mike says:

    Excellent article, informative too. My first argument before reading all the way through was After Effects. This year especially since adobe has allowed support for more dynamic range video / images, and the new interface for their video products is a huge indicator to me that they are continuing to support them.

    Adobe tends to be more open than Mcrosoft too. Considering the PDF standard and specification, (though I’m not totally informed) is an open format. So programs like Open Office.org and others can create a PDF natively using free and open libraries. Microsoft continues to have it’s formats closed. Even the MS XML isn’t completely open like you would expect XML (text) to be. Any startup could create a program that created PDF files, but not necessarily one that competes with Word and word files.

    Microsoft should be taking advantage of the openness of the swf format and making a frontpage-like competitor to flash. Flash can handle video, audio, programming, and of course animations. It is an area that is dying for an easier application since many regard flash’s timeline to be horrible. and many will never learn it because of it’s difficulty level.

  3. woz says:

    Oh and how about this : Robert X. Cringely thinks Apple should buy Adobe: “For Apple’s Windows Strategy to Work, It Must Replace Microsoft Office and Buy Adobe Systems”
    After reading your article this does not really make a whole lot of sense… http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/pulpit20060427.html

  4. Greg H says:

    Very thought provoking. Thanks Pariah!

    Minor note, about the statement “threatening AfterEffects”. From my vantage as a Flash developer, I do not see Flash now, or ever competing with After Effects. If you are doing film or broadcast titling, motion graphics or special effects you are not going to be using Flash. And if you are generating interactive content to be delivered over the web, you are not going to be using After Effects (Hey look! No event model! :-)

    I know cases where Flash and After Effects are complementary. But scant few cases where they compete.

    Other than that, only praise. Again thanks Pariah!

  5. iMatt says:

    You knew, a few years ago, I’d have bet money on Quark and Macromedi merging to head off Adobe. Esp as Quark Xpress was often bundled with Freehand in a special deal. Freehand would have given Quark a heavyweight drawing app and Fireworks a bitmap image editor.

    I agree broadly with Pariah. MS does not do graphics well. It knows operating systems, office suites, productivity, and even games , but not graphics for print and web.

    That said, I wonder, has Adobe become TOO big?? Do they still have the personal touch??

  6. Greg H says:

    More on Adobe & Microsoft butting heads (this time over PDF), by Joe Wilcox here:

    Echoing Pariah’s observations here, last November Joe Wilcox wrote:
    Target Adobe. I swear that Microsoft executives have painted a giant bullseye on Adobe. Long ago, I cautioned that Adobe and Microsoft were on collision course in the enterprise.

  7. damo says:

    If you think Adobe taking over Macromedia was a good thing you are deluded.

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