Enough Whining About the Adobe-Macromedia Merger

2006
May
17

Recently, Quark VS InDesign.com reader Woz mentioned his concern over the Adobe-Macromedia merger because of an editorial he found on the blog Daring Fireball. Fortunately for Woz, that editorial was riddled with incorrect facts and erroneous conclusions. Jon Gruber’s rants are often interesting because of his writing style and manner of presenting a compelling case […]

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Recently, Quark VS InDesign.com reader Woz mentioned his concern over the Adobe-Macromedia merger because of an editorial he found on the blog Daring Fireball. Fortunately for Woz, that editorial was riddled with incorrect facts and erroneous conclusions.

Jon Gruber’s rants are often interesting because of his writing style and manner of presenting a compelling case (even if his facts are completely wrong). You just have to be careful to do your own research before believing any facts he presents (you should research any editorial, especially online, before believing it, mine included). His editorial, “the Fish Rots from the Head First,” is a compelling example of why independent research is needed before accepting Gruber’s conclusions or intimations.

For example, Gruber accuses Adobe of a brown thumb, saying that the applications they acquire wither and die, like PageMaker:

Adobe does not have a good track record with acquired applications. E.g. they acquired PageMaker and it died; they created InDesign on their own, and it’s thriving. They acquired GoLive years ago, and while it’s still around and admittedly has its adherents, no one can argue that it’s successful in the way their print-oriented apps are.

His facts are completely in error here, as you’ll instantly recognize if you read “A Brief History of the Desktop Publishing War” or if you’ve done any research into the numerous other sources of correct data.

Aldus built PageMaker, as even Gruber knows. But, Aldus was also the one to order the death of PageMaker in 1993, not Adobe. Aldus, not Adobe, created InDesign–at least the foundation–and InDesign was created for the express purpose of replacing PageMaker. Then code-named K2, InDesign was the primary reason for the acquisition of Aldus by Adobe. Premiere and AfterEffects were also big motivators, but K2 was the crown jewel. After the acquisition, the same Aldus programmers continued to build InDesign until it’s release. Adobe’s Seattle office, from which nearly all of the InDesign development team still works, was the Aldus office (well, they moved once since then), and the developers were, at least through version CS, nearly all the original Aldus K2 programmers. Many of them had also worked on PageMaker throughout the years.

For the record, the only current creative pro applications Adobe developed completely in-house were Illustrator and Acrobat. Everything else–Photoshop, InDesign, FrameMaker, GoLive, LiveCycle, Audition, Premiere, AfterEffects, and others–was acquired technology. Of course, no one uses that lousy AfterEffects or the all-but forgotten Photoshop any more. Clearly, Jon, you’re right: Adobe has a terrible track record with acquired technologies.

An optimist might argue that Adobe has purchased Macromedia specifically to fill the web-sized hole in the product line-up, but I think it’s more likely they’ve done it just to get bigger for the sake of being a bigger company.

To suggest that the world’s then third-largest software company would spend $3.4b just because it could is naive and ludicrous. Like many other commentators, Gruber is worried that his favorite Macromedia products will change or disappear. It’s a valid fear, but a foolish argument to express that fear.

Yes, Adobe’s near total lack of… (Continued on Next Page)

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