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"Apple Should Buy Adobe," Cringeley Thinks – And He Explains Why

Jobs Needs Top ISVs Like Adobe To Continue Writing for OS X

(April 30, 2006) - Robert X. Cringely thinks Apple should buy Adobe. In an article published on the National Public Radio website discussing Apple's future, he lays out some goals for Apple on its quest to desktop dominance: an important link in this chain, according to Cringeley, is the aquisition by Apple of Adobe Systems.

Cringely claims Apple is planning to next year take on not only Microsoft's hardware OEMs, but also possibly Microsoft itself, "by leveraging a vestigial legal right to some portion of the Windows API -- in this case, literally the Windows XP API."

He writes, in his "I, Cringley" column:

"This bold strategy is based on the high probability that - if something called Windows Vista ships at all next January - it will really be Windows XP SP4 with a new name. Microsoft is so bloated and paralyzed that this could happen, but what's missing is an Apple application strategy to go with this operating system strategy, because Microsoft's true power lies not in Windows, but in Microsoft Office. Fortunately for Apple, I believe there is an application plan in the works, and I will describe it here."
The "plan" he describes is not so much an application strategy as an Office strategy.

Office, Cringeley - somewhat unnecessariky - explains, is how Microsoft makes most of its revenue, and is "the bludgeon Microsoft uses to keep other software vendors in line."

He continues:

"Without Office, Microsoft is just a company with an archaic and insecure OS. If Apple does go ahead to compete head-to-head with Microsoft for Microsoft's own Windows customers, Cupertino will have to be ready in case Mac Office is withdrawn and Windows Office mysteriously breaks on Apple hardware. There is a good likelihood this won't happen, especially if Microsoft can find a way to rev Mac Office for IntelMacs sorta running Windows - a hybrid product that would look better than the Windows version while retaining 100 percent compatibility and generating an enormous new revenue stream for Redmond. This is the carrot Apple will use to keep Microsoft from doing something truly destructive."
The crux of Cringeley's sensational acquisition recommendation derives from his belief that finding an alternative to Microsoft Office won't fully solve Apple's application vulnerability. "That's because for its core media and graphics markets," he writes, "Apple is as dependent on Adobe as it is Microsoft for the general office market. And now that Adobe owns Macromedia, Apple is even more vulnerable."

Here is how Cringeley's logic unfolds:

"Adobe has already made one feint away from Mac development that required personal pressure from Steve Jobs on John Warnock to reverse. If Apple kinda-sorta embraces Windows enough for Adobe to question whether continued development for the native OS X platform is still warranted, well, then Apple WILL just become another Dell, which isn't what Steve Jobs wants.

Steve wants Windows applications to run like crazy on his hybrid platform but to look like crap. In his heart of hearts, he'd still like to beat Microsoft on the merits, not just by leveraging some clever loophole. So he needs the top ISVs who are currently writing for OS X to continue writing for OS X, and that especially means Adobe.

There's only one way to make that happen for sure, and that's for Apple to buy Adobe."

Cringeley ends with a bang: "Apple has the stock, they have the cash - such a purchase would effectively cost Apple nothing, the market would like it so well."

The coming week could be interesting, but no-one will be holding their breath. Adobe has quite enough on its plate digesting Macromedia. Analysts have long expressed concern that the company might lose out to Microsoft, a concern recently deemed "overblown" by Piper Jaffray senior analyst Gene Munster, whose view is that - while Microsoft is clearly always a competitor worth taking seriously - its bark is worse than its bite. "We do not believe Adobe's business will suffer as a result of the entry of Microsoft's competing offerings," Munster said.

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