Editorial: When the dust settles, what can we expect from Flashy acquisition?

Since the news of the Adobe-Macromedia merger, industry analysts, bloggers and other commentators have all put in their two cents. Since opinions vary wildly from source-to-source, that has included everything from dire predictions for users to untrammeled positivity and many shades between. I myself admit to a sense of qualified optimism, so I guess that makes me a ‘tweener.

Early last month, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) gave Adobe and Macromedia the go-ahead to merge. Stockholders of both corporations had overwhelmingly approved the merger back in August. Now that the DOJ has resolved the potential anti-trust issues, the companies look set to complete the union in Fall.

Any time two large companies merge, it’s going to take time. That probably explains why we have had so little official information on the ramifications of the acquisition. Still, the merger has generated a lot of buzz from industry analysts and the media. It may just be hearsay at this point, but much of it is certainly interesting hearsay.

Creativepro.com Editor-in-chief Terri Stone wondered in her feature story whether the ‘Mega Corporation’ Adobe/Macromedia might lose sight of its customers, opting for a profit-first approach that could see the demise of some products. According to Stone’s Adobe contact, there were no conditions put on the DOJ clearance — such as, say, the enforced sale of Fireworks, Freehand or GoLive. If true, it means that products that previously competed from Adobe and Macromedia may be scrapped, allowing the new company to streamline its development and support overheads.

In an interview with Forbes, Adobe CEO Bruce Chizen and Macromedia CEO Stephen Elop spoke to these concerns… sort of:

There’s a lot of speculation about which Adobe and/or Macromedia products will be discontinued or integrated. How do Adobe and Macromedia plan to help Web developers adapt to the changes that will surely affect the products and services they rely on?

Chizen: Adobe and Macromedia have complementary tools for Web applications, but each has earned a leading position in its respective area. You can bet it’s a franchise we’re going to protect. We have resources from both companies on the integration team specifically dedicated to addressing developers’ needs.

In other words, Chizen appears to be suggesting that complementary (read: non-competitive) tools from the two companies will be maintained in one form or another. He is silent on the issue of the issue of more directly competitive tools such as DreamWeaver and GoLive — sorry, no explicit help there. Elop’s follow-up response to the same question was:

Elop: More generally, both companies have a strong reputation for taking care of their customers, both as it relates to helping customers through product changes and through the inevitable generational changes that affect our industry. We helped CD-ROM developers move to the Web, and we’re helping Web developers expand into the mobile space. Our customers should expect this same consideration as we move forward.

Elop’s addition roughly translates to, ‘Trust us.’ No real help there, either. According to the Adobe-Macromedia Acquisition Announcement FAQ on the Adobe website, ‘The combined company will not be able to create a joint product roadmap until after the transaction is closed.’ It’s frustrating, but given that the merger isn’t expected to be complete until Fall, it looks as though it will take at least that long before users get the official word one way or the other on their favored applications.

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About the Author: Dan Shea

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