updated 04:25 pm EDT, Thu October 7, 2010
Microsoft and Adobe in collaborative talks
Adobe and Microsoft have been talking about possibly collaborating against Apple or even a union between the two, sources said on Thursday. Their respective CEOs Shantanu Narayen and Steve Ballmer reportedly met for over an hour recently and discussed the possibility of teamwork to counter Apple's influence in the mobile world. Consultants and workers told the New York Times that they had gone so far as to float the option of Microsoft buying Adobe, although how serious this was isn't known.
Adobe senior corporate communications lead Holly Campbell would only say that Ballmer and Narayen "meet from time to time," but the two sides are believed to have been told to keep the existence and subject of the meeting a secret. Microsoft declined comment outright.
Microsoft had supposedly raised the possibility of buying Adobe multiple years ago, but the legal climate was such that it expected the Department of Justice to rule the deal anti-competitive. Apple's size, as well as Google's, would supposedly ease the situation. Critics have usually cast this into doubt as Apple still has a significant dependence on Adobe's Creative Suite apps and could see its share dwindle if artists and designers are forced to switch to Windows.
Adobe has lately seen restrictions loosen as Apple has loosened development tool limits to allow Flash CS5, but the company has been stung by Apple's refusal to implement Flash as a plugin for the browser or elsewhere in the OS. Apple chief Steve Jobs is well known for having decried Flash's poor mobile performance, its instability and its repeated delays, but Adobe has tried to cast Flash as a standard and accused Apple of rejecting a universal web even as it downplays non-proprietary standards like HTML5.
Flash should reach Windows Phone 7 as a stepping stone regardless of any extra Adobe and Microsoft teamwork, but it's not clear what more could be done besides browser and possibly app integration. Android is the only platform where full Flash 10.1 is available, while BlackBerry, Symbian and webOS are still considered distant.