Friday, October 8, 2010

Microsoft and Adobe merger dreams...

I am a big fan of Adobe.  I am less of a fan of Microsoft.

I can go on and on about why I like Adobe.  I like Photoshop and Flash.  I like Coldfusion and Flex.

I can go on and on about why I am less of a Microsoft fan, but the root of my distaste for Microsoft is actually the root of my love for Adobe.  Adobe has flagship products and tries to improve them in ways the users want and attempt to keep ahead of Open Source competitors.  Gimp is close to Photoshop in many ways, but if you need professional and reliable image editing the latest version of Photoshop wins.  I am a web developer and have worked with PHP quite a bit, but if I am developing for someone who has money and wants a reliable web platform I prefer Coldfusion.

Microsoft?  What are they doing?  How are they better than their Open Source competitors?  I don't know and neither do they.  They are so lost on that crucial issue that they are loosing ground in important areas.  Bing vs Google?  IE vs FireFox | Chrome | Opera | Safari?  Silverlight vs Flash? 

Back a long time ago I loved Microsoft.  Windows NT was amazing.  IIS with ASP was amazing (Visual Interdev rocked).  IE made AJAX possible.  The years since they have squandered their lead.  They gave us Vista.  They invented the smartphone but Apple spanked them with it, then Google showed up late to the party and spanked everyone.  The invented the tablet and Apple spanked them with the iPad (Bill Gates: a useful interface would have helped TabletXP instead of just pen-enabling XP).  

At some point Microsoft stopped inventing and started copying (and when you copy you acknowledge that someone else is better than you).  Microsoft took on Adobe with Silverlight, now I have to use Windows to watch Netflix on my PC -- but that is the ONLY TIME EVER I HAVE USED SILVERLIGHT!  They copied a whole series of applications called "Expression" to attempt to get us excited about Silverlight.  If I already have Flash -- which I know and love, why would I pay big money to learn and use Silverlight on less platforms with less capabilities?  If Microsoft had released Expression for free, we would be crying about HTML 5 and Javascript replacing Silverlight ~and~ Flash.

Microsoft is not exciting at all anymore.  They are now IBM.  The XBOX 360 is cool, but so is Nintendo Wii.  Internet Explorer 9 is cool, but it only is almost as cool as the current Open Source browsers.  Everything else is failing!  Ballmer is running the place into the ground!

Not only SHOULD Microsoft merge with Adobe, but they have to.  Only then can something new be made to excite the technology world that Steve Jobs will not be putting a lower case "i" in front of.

1) The merger with Adobe will ally them with Google on the whole Flash issue.  If Microsoft dropped the Windows 7 smartphone crap and made applications for Google Android with Flash then they could at least be back in the software market with mobiles -- compared to frozen out playing second bannanna to RIM.  Windows compatible applications on Android would make it a better pick for businesses and accelerate the business smartphone market -- sorry RIM.  Microsoft could release a Windows 8 tablet AND an Android tablet (both would buy Microsoft applications from a online Android/Microsoft marketplace).

2) Adobe is a consistent performer with its own products which have no equal.  Adobe will always make money with their current business model.  The new Photoshop features are amazing!  The animation tools in Flash are fantastic.  Coldfusion?  It just rocks.  Where Microsoft and Adobe overlap, Adobe should win.  No more ASP.NET.  No more Silverlight.  No more Expression Studio.  Imagine Photoshop Express coming on every computer instead of Paint?  I have goosebumps.

We can also expect Microsoft to always make money on desktops operating systems.  Microsoft has a solid place in the hardcore gamer console market.  But Mobile is where the future is.  The gamers who love their XBoxes now will grow up and love their iPhones - unless Microsoft can get out there.

3) Adobe can have some synergy with Microsoft and improve all of their current products as well as come up with new ones.  The Premiere and Photoshop programmers working with the DirectX shop.  The Coldfusion, Flash and Flex people working with the Internet Explorer and Internet Information Services people.  And for God's sake, FIX READER!

If they don't merge?  Well, Adobe will loose Flash as a platform thanks to open standards and mobile market demand (even if you can make things in Flash and export it to the iPhone because if you are exporting the same things as other tools you have to do it better and Flash is just too late to the party).  Adobe's other products are so niche that it will not matter long term and they will remain a graphic artist's company and little else.

Microsoft has a LOT more to loose.  They have a solid hold on Desktop Operating systems, and might maintain that for a long time.  But, a Desktop Operating System will be what you have to use at work and what you choose to use at home and everywhere else will be either Apple or Google.  Laptops?  The netbook revolution will tell you that the heavy laptop is going away.  The iPads are here and will stay.  We will see Google Android devices from phones to tablets to netbooks, all pulling applications from the Android Marketplace.  Google will get lots of search revenue and money from the marketplace.  Google will heavily invest in Open Source and that will hurt Microsoft on the server and eventually desktop markets.  

Why is mobile so important?  Ask a 14-20 year old which they have used more recently, a smartphone or a computer.  I am sure you will find they use smartphones more often.  When they get jobs and money what will they spend their money on?  I'd bet a fancy phone and data plan will be first on the list.  When they are at work and have a choice of what technology to purchase?  Mobile is the future.

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