Adobe Buys Macromedia: Analysis
I was shocked this morning by the news. I’m a complete outsider to both companies, but I have been using and following Macromedia products for 11 years now. So I can’t help but speculate what this will mean.
Just about every year, a rumor circulates that Microsoft or some other company is buying Macromedia. During the go-go late 90s, these rumors even made the stock jump once or twice. I believe that some of these rumors may have even been started for such a purpose by investors looking to sell.
So “X buys Macromedia” rumors are sort of like tabloid news stories. Nobody who follows Macromedia really believes them.
But this is the real thing. There has probably been high-level negotiations for a while. So it is ironic that when it was for real, there were no rumors at all.
First thing that I see happening, is that Macromedia, as a name, is gone. Everything will become “Adobe.” So this is the end of an era. We can begin to write histories of Macromedia, from beginning to end. I’m sure even the Macromedia offices in San Francisco will close and the employees will move down to Adobe’s building in San Jose.
Second thing that wall happen is there will be a product-by-product elimination. The products that are the most obvious competitors are Illustrator and Freehand. The war there is over. I’m sure the next version of Illustrator will somehow incorporate some features of Freehand so that all the Freehand users migrate over. Then Freehand will be dead.
The next area of interest would the universal document format. Adobe has the ubiquitous PDF (Adobe Acrobat) format and Macromedia has the SWF (Macromedia Flash) format. PDF is very strong for print and static documents, which SWF is much more interactive. Each is so strong now that it is doubtful that anything will happen right away. There will probably be a cross-pollination of features and then even SWF-in-PDF and PDF-in-SWF. But in the long run, there will probably be one format that encompasses both. Or, perhaps Adobe will have SWF focus on Web-based delivery and PDF on print. It is sort of that way now, with either one stretching into the other’s territory.
Server products, like Cold Fusion, will probably not change much. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t last long. Adobe hasn’t shown much interest in products like Cold Fusion. And PHP/MySQL is really dominating and hard to compete with.
Looking at other products, like Director, it is hard to say what will happen. Adobe’s front page reads: “The combination of Adobe and Macromedia strengthens our mission of helping people and organizations communicate better.” How do products like Director fit in there? But then, I don’t expect one sentence to sum up Adobe’s whole true mission.
One question that begs to be asked at this point is WHY? Why did Macromedia sell itself to Adobe for only stock? It appears that Macromedia has been profitable for a while. They definitely have market and mindshare with Flash and it’s related products. So was this simply a cash-out for the major stockholders? Why this deal? Why now?