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Friday, April 28, 2006

Apple, Adobe, Microsoft : The Jigsaw Puzzle

For Apple's Windows Strategy to Work, It Must Replace Microsoft Office and Buy Adobe Systems writes, Bob Cringley. Pointing out that apple needs to have an application strategy to go with this operating system strategy, because Microsoft's true power lies not in Windows, but in Microsoft Office. Added to that is the fact that windows rather than being an OS on the way up, as it was in the past, today Windows is the OS we tolerate. Office is how Microsoft makes most of its revenue, and Office is the bludgeon Microsoft uses to keep other software vendors in line. By embracing Open XML, Apple could get complete file compatibility with the new Office format. Now if Apple's old cross-licensing deal with Microsoft also gives them compatibility with the older binary Office formats, it could give them something not even Microsoft has at the moment - support for ALL Microsoft Office formats, past, present, and future. Since its relationship with Adobe is very pivotal as for its core media and graphics markets Apple is as dependent on Adobe as it is Microsoft for the general office market. So he propounds that Adobe may be a good buy for Apple to consider.

My Take : As I see it, this may be infeasible. Apple's Tiger is not exactly roaring - it does not seem to have got new customers to Apple( not even the disgusted windows customers. Look at the market cap of Adobe – above 22 billion USD, may be half of Apple’s market cap – Also I see that Adobe is stepping into the enterprise space – substantial push is happening within Adobe on this front. Also given the fact that a certain amount of windows customers still look at Apple, it needs to be thought through further. Seen from an adobe perspective, this may not be that easy, as I wrote earlier during adobe-macromedia merger,Adobe has moved sometime back from the desktop vendor player to enterprise vendor. For sometime, Adobe LiveCycle product line is offered as a server based enterprise offering enabling enterprises to use it as a secure document format helping in the full lifecycle information management sans direct storage facility - capture, collabaration & compliance. The average enterprise generates 300,000 business-critical documents a month, and is said to be promptly losing track of about 25% of those. 70% of Acrobat seats are now sold to businesses through Adobe's licensing division, not the traditional shrink-wrapped boxes. Adobe recorded 17 mln downloads of Reader 7, which represents 40% faster uptake than recorded for Version 6, weeksinto its lauch. In its new form, Acrobat becomes the hub between people, processes and policies as they commit business-critical information to the PDF format. Adobe is making this standard interoperable and may try and repeat the enterprise strategy with Flash. Though there were concerns about the pricing, net-net, Adobe seems to have gained more strength to explore emerging future opportunities with Macromedia. The mighty challenge before Adobe will be maintaining momentum & volume traction in software bundles, licensing, channel conflicts and direct sales and focus on interoperability issues, middleware and browser access(Flash & Acrobat together looks attractive to imagine) – in all these arenas – independent initiatives like firefox, novell, some macintosh third party software providers. So I think with Adobe focussed as scuh along these lines, a buy out from Apple at 22 billion marketcap looks highly impossible.

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