Microsoft to Acquire Adobe to Team Up Against Apple?

Rumour has it that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen had a chat recently about how to deal with iPhone in the mobile marketplace, and whether an acquisition between the two companies was an option.  Both have good reason to be aggressive towards Apple: Steve Jobs has laid out in plain English why the iPhone will not adopt Flash, while Microsoft is in the process of rebooting their mobile efforts, and the iPhone stands squarely in their way. There was no definitive conclusion to the meeting, but even the hypothetical situation of Microsoft acquiring Adobe is worth considering.

I’m of the mind that Android would quickly be caught in the crossfire, as an acquisition by Microsoft would steer Adobe’s attention towards Windows Phone 7 and providing the best Flash experience there than on any other platform. If Microsoft wanted to be really ballsy, they could claim exclusivity of Flash, and cut out Android, BlackBerry and others from making progress with the multimedia platform, although there are some obvious antitrust issues there. Of course, both Microsoft and Adobe both operate outside the mobile sphere as well, and there are a number of fronts where they could give iPhone a hard time – like, say, using Flash more heavily on popular Microsoft sites, and convincing partners to do the same. It could be something as simple as consolidating the minor amount of competition between Silverlight and Flash.

Although not launching with Flash 10.1 support, Microsoft has vowed to include it later, unless this meeting between the two CEOs results in work being fast-tracked to get Flash ready in time for the Windows Phone launch. In any case, nothing firm has been confirmed or denied by either company, so don’t go buying (or selling) your stocks just yet.

[via NYT]

  • Jeff F

    Microsoft is still trying to own Flash, after all these years.

  • What would this mean for Silverlight?

  • I’m confused as to how owning Adobe would benefit Microsoft in the mobile space.

    Microsoft has been advocating Silverlight as the better solution to Flash for several years now. Flash, according to Microsoft, is old and busted.

    The iPhone and iPad is doing very, very well without Flash. Android is just now starting to get Flash and has done quite well without it. Early reviews indicate that Flash on Android is problematic so many users will probably turn it off or avoid Flash sites until it gets better. Without rewriting most Flash widgets don’t work well with touch interfaces. So the bulk of what you’re missing is interactive ads and the occasional video site that doesn’t support the iPhone/iPad.

    Where this would cause more problems would be in the graphic design space. Microsoft could do the same thing with Adobe’s apps that they do with Office, make the Mac versions second-class citizens. Release new features on Windows and let the Mac version lag years behind. Now that would be annoying.

  • Rob

    This seems a little like putting a millstone around the neck of another millstone. Two giants, who have lost touch with consumers and developers after decades of laziness and corporate bullying, think that by joining forces they’ll be able to improve their chances? Somebody should do the maths for them. -1 + -1 = -2

    I hope they can at least keep Apple battle hardened and focused but neither company seems to understand that you need to provide customers with a total solution that is fun, cool, easy and safe. Do that and you can charge a premium and still dominate the market. None of those adjectives would be used to describe Adobe or Microsoft’s products.

    @ Ted Adobe’s foundation is it’s Creative Suite apps, most of which are used in creative professions dominated by Macs. If they were foolish enough to hold back on Mac releases they would encourage Apple to become more aggeressive with them. Look at Final Cut Pro vs Premiere. It would be cutting off their nose to spite their face.

  • greg newman

    I donot think that microsoft wants to buy adobe but Microsoft instead asked them some special Apps like a good flash APP for the windows phone 7 browsers and good graphic art apps and photo retouch Apps for their windows phone 7 Ballmer wants the Windows phone 7 to have some dynamite apps because he knows that is what made people buy Iphones when it did’nt have multitasking and cut and past and a lot of other things it lacks like flash

  • ffa

    Wonderful but no one can stop apple

  • Jill

    European Union. <----- the reason such a merger won't be possible. 🙂

  • Rob

    I dont think a merger will happen, I think Microsoft just wants to make sure that when they get Flash on their phones, that it’s well integrated stable etc. As for apple, not having flash and expecting the world to switch just because flash uses up more resources when mac user interact with flash on safari is a better indication of a company that is lazy and has lost touch (with reality that is). Expecting 90 % of the world to switch to a new standard when less than 10 % market share is experiencing a slower experience on their cr@p machines is ridiculous. In desktop experience mac has already lost and will never make it to 10% much less achieve dominance (why do you think all of the company’s energies are devoted to it’s mobile platform leaving desktop and laptop to languish in obscurity). With Android skyrocketing the way it is, already outselling and soon to hold a greater market share of the mobile phone market (as for tablets prepare for the ipad to be obliterated when Android moves into that area with gusto), and Windows mobile an unknown variable, Palm being rebooted into a promising competitor, Blackberry locking down enterprise, and Symbian still the dominant platform apple is facing increasing irrelevance on all fronts. Turning his nose up at Flash and expecting the rest of the world to do the same just to suit him only hurts steve jobs. A remarkable lack of foresight for someone who is supposed to be a tech guru isnt it

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