In their commentary about a story that postulates Adobe writing office apps, Mac Daily News suggests Apple should buy Adobe. The idea is that they would kill Photoshop on Windows and shake up the industry.
I vote no.
Personally, I think killing Photoshop on windows would deluge Apple with lawsuits, but that’s not my point. My point is that Apple should buy companies that fit into their overall goals, business pursuits, and corporate culture. Is that Adobe? Seems to me Apple and Adobe haven’t exactly been best buddies lately.
For the last five years or more, Adobe has not been particularly kind to the Mac:
- They discontinued Premiere on the Mac, whining they couldn’t compete with Apple when the reality was Final Cut was simply vastly superior. (They no doubt thought this would hurt Apple, but it backfired and simply accelerated Final Cut’s dominance.)
- They took longer than any major player except Microsoft to make their major apps Universal. (Microsoft at least has the excuse that Office may benefit little from this, but Adobe’s apps received huge benefits from being Universal, yet they dragged their feet.)
- Photoshop Elements always lags behind its Windows counterpart (currently at version 4.0 when Windows has had 5.0 for months).
- They rested on their Photoshop laurels until Apple introduced Aperture, then got off their asses to develop their own all-in-one post-production tool, Lightroom.
- Flash on the Mac is pathetically slow.
Those are just the ones off the top of my head. It doesn’t matter that history has shown Adobe would be in a better place had they paid a bit more attention to Apple and, yes, they have recently brought Premiere back (a good thing, in my opinion). But the fact remains the Mac has been about as welcome to Adobe as a bastard at a family reunion.
None of this is meant to denigrate Adobe’s software (well, except maybe Mac Flash). I use Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements on Windows XP and have recommended them to others. However, in moving to the Mac I’m avoiding the former due to it being behind (and not Universal), and the latter does not even exist.
Since Adobe has not been any kinder to the Mac the last decade than Microsoft, why in heaven’s name would Apple buy them? This is a far cry from picking up a relatively small maker of DVD authoring products or sound editing tools. Adobe is a monolith. Why would Apple take that on, especially since much of the company is clearly not in the Mac camp?
I don’t think Apple should pursue a Photoshop killer, but I like the idea of them competing with much of what Adobe offers. For example, I’m hoping Apple adds draw/paint capabilities (in-house or acquired) to iWork, and continues to borrow from Aperture for iPhoto. Will they succeed in every case? Of course not, but users win. Does anyone think Lightroom would exist if not for Aperture? That the Mac’s Elements would lag so far behind if iPhoto was enhanced even further? That Premiere would have been brought back if not for the overwhelming success of Final Cut?
Bottom line is that while people talk about Microsoft’s “lock-in” with Windows and Apple’s “lock-in” with iPod/iTunes, Adobe sits very quietly above the fray while dominating huge portions of content creation. Does anyone else think the pricing for Creative Suite 3.0 shows that Adobe clearly sees themselves as having no competition?
Apple, don’t buy Adobe. Instead, continue to make products that will force Adobe to pay attention to the Mac, and be competitive, like they haven’t had to for so long. Competition is a great thing, and can only help the Mac and its users.