Why Does Adobe Hate Apple?

2001 – Thanks to some articles posted this week, I’ve finally figured out why Adobe is shunning Mac users and skipping Macworld Expo this month – they’re trying to pressure Apple into not releasing one or more new software products.

The Rumor Mill

Adobe is taking it on the chin. They used to sell ATM (Adobe Type Manager), but later Apple licensed it for free inclusion with the Mac OS. ATM Lite is now a free download, but Mac OS X doesn’t appear to need it.

Adobe invented PDF, a portable document format. Anyone can download a free Acrobat Reader, but you had to pay extra money to buy the version of Acrobat that let you create PDF files. Mac OS X does that without Acrobat Writer.

Adobe Illustrator could well take it on the chin from kIllustrator, an alternative drawing program that shouldn’t be too hard to port to Mac OS X (see Slashdot for more on kIllustrator). Of course, that is a bit of a niche market, but Adobe already had to surrender FreeHand* when they acquired Aldus. (Remember Aldus?)

Adobe has seen what happened to SoundJam after Apple licensed its technology in 2000 and released iTunes. Cassady & Greene gave up on competing with Apple’s freeware.

Adobe is taking it on the chin with its Premier video editing program. Not only is iMovie free, but Apple has its own high-end competitor, Final Cut Pro. Another Adobe market shrinking in the face of Apple’s applications.

According to Macworld UK, the top wish among Mac users for Apple’s next great freeware program is iPicture/iPhoto, which would compete head-to-head with Adobe PhotoDeluxe and also cut into the market for the high-end Photoshop 6. (Enough Mac users probably find programs like ColorIt! and GraphicConverter do all they need to begin with, but that’s beside the point.)

Adobe is scared. Product by product, Apple seems to be encroaching on its markets. Of course, Apple wouldn’t dare do this to Microsoft, which could roll over in its sleep and crush Apple, but Apple and Adobe have traditionally been perceived as allies.

If Apple is planning iPhoto, it could help explain Adobe’s decision to skip Macworld. It’s not a rational decision, since Adobe still makes about half its money from the Mac market, but reason doesn’t seem to be a leading factor here.

Is this just a groundless rumor? No, it’s not any type of rumor – not this time. It’s trying to put the pieces together and understand why Adobe, which has made so much money from Mac users, is now snubbing us. Unless something wholly unanticipated (Apple buys Adobe!) takes place, Adobe will only hurt itself with such childish behavior.

We should know more within two weeks.

– Anne Onymus

  • Update: FreeHand was originally developed by Altsys in 1988 and licensed to Aldus, which released Aldus FreeHand 1-4. When Aldus and Adobe merged in 1994, FreeHand reverted to Altsys. Macromedia acquired Altsys in 1995 and published Macromedia FreeHand MX 5-11. Adobe purchased Macromedia in 2005 and discontinued development in favor of Adobe Illustrator, which Adobe developed in 1986.

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