QuarkVSInDesign.com Archive

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/​c​r​i​n​g​e​l​y​/​p​u​l​p​i​t​/​p​u​l​p​i​t​2​0​0​6​0​4​2​7​.​h​tml

  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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