Mon. Apr 18, 2005
In case you haven’t heard, “Adobe Systems Incorporated has announced a definitive agreement to acquire Macromedia in an all-stock transaction valued at approximately $3.4 billion.” I titled this “Adobemedia,” because it sure won’t be “Macro-dobe.” In fact, it will likely just stay Adobe.
Adobe Flash. Yuck.
There’s a fair amount of “yucking” around the web today, like Tom Muck, in “If you can’t beat ‘em, buy ‘em”: “When MM bought Allaire, it was like peanut butter and jelly getting together. This is more like peanut butter and more peanut butter.”
Others are more enthused, like Ted: “Adobe is not buying Macromedia to dismantle products, they are buying it for the future of rich media, Flash [...] This merger ends the public and private competition that these two companies have waged against one another. The two have sued each other with regularity over patent infringement and technology related issues. All of these distractions will disappear and allow the merged company to focus on rich media and communication. The world wants rich media and putting 7 times more resources behind Flash seems like a very good start to me.”
I’m sure he’s right, this was about buying rich media, i.e., Flash. Adobe put their resources behind LiveMotion in an attempt to “beat ‘em,” but failed miserably, so now they’ll “buy ‘em.” And if you’re a Flash developer, I suppose there’s not much reason to be worried.
Others aren’t so sure, like Stephen Collins: “There are too many concurrent spaces in tools offered by Adobe and Macromedia for this to be truly good. I think it will actually ultimately stifle competition and innovation.”
And it will start within this newly merged company. Sometime this fall, some choices will be made, and some of them already seem clear. Perhaps worst of all, all we customers can do is speculate, and those who actually know are legally bound to keep their mouth shut until this merger is finalized. They say their current product line plans will continue through fall, which means the successor to Macromedia Studio MX 2004 may actually be released (hopefully with a much shorter name), as that’s when it’s currently scheduled. But somehow, I’m thinking that ship date could slip…
So all I can do is make my plea and pitch. And, best I can figure, over the past decade I’ve paid about $1,340 to Macromedia (from Dreamweaver 1.0 on), and about $1,360 to Adobe (from Photoshop 3.0 on, skipping from version 4.0 to 5.5). Funny how it works out so evenly. So I get to say a little bit more than “my two cents worth” to Team Adobe.
First off, no matter what Adobe decides about specific apps, they need to offer Macromedia customers a painless and as close to free as possible entry path into the product lines where the Macromedia version is being terminated (I’m mainly thinking of Freehand here, but it applies to whatever they do). That is, if they want them to become Adobe customers. This merger may open up new opportunities for them, but it also opens up new dangers, as they’re under the microscope now. Because any arrogant or monopolistic behavior on Adobe’s part at this point will likely be met by the startup of new open source alternatives.
Many of the conflicts in the new product line resolve themselves, either due to a lack of competition, like Flash (come now, LiveMotion never really qualified as “competition”) and Cold Fusion, or market dominance, like Illustrator over Freehand. Freehand offers little to differentiate itself. It was simply a competent competitor, and thus it will surely cease to exist (part of the overall plan, eliminate competition).
But there are two conflicts that concern me as a customer, and one of them I’m pretty fanatical about.
First, there’s Dreamweaver versus GoLive. DW obviously has the greater market share, but since Adobe is pushing the new version of GoLive pretty hard, I don’t see this as a clear cut case. It’s possible they’ll do something stupid like offer Dreamweaver users a low cost upgrade path to GoLive, and combine those two as one. But the developer community that has grown around Dreamweaver is pretty vast, and I hope Adobe is smart enough to preserve that. It will be the biggest of many opportunities to either solidify or fracture their $3.4 Billion purchase.
But the one that really scares me is Photoshop versus Fireworks. To me, this is like comparing a Hummer and a Harley. They’re both manly vehicles that begin with “H,” but that’s where the similarity ends. And I feel a bit like Jared: “If they touch Fireworks, I’m going .NET.”
I see them as vastly different apps, for good reason. Photoshop is, and always has been, the King of Bitmaps and Print Output. Then they arc welded web graphics capability onto it, and later some limited vector capabilities.
Fireworks is the Queen of Screen Output, vector or bitmap, or both. When it comes to comp’ing web sites or creating web graphics, I can work about three times faster in Fireworks than I can in Photoshop. ImageReady is a poor and bloated attempt to make Photoshop capable of the things Fireworks does with ease.
I remember the first time I opened the beta of Fireworks 1.0 in early 1999. The only way I can explain it that I felt like someone had designed an app Just For Reid To Play. It was so much fun, if I could only have one program on my computer, Fireworks would be it. That is still true today.
And if Adobe takes it away from me, I’ll be looking to take as much away from them as I can, in terms of my future business.
I’ve been paying for Photoshop upgrades for nine years, and for Fireworks upgrades for six years. I’d like to continue doing both. Please let me.
Oh, and I won’t be upgrading from CS any time soon. I was planning on it, until I heard this today. Now I think maybe I need a hostage.