Will Apple Buy Adobe?

Last year investment analyst Daniel Ives at FBR wrote that it would be good for Apple to buy Adobe Systems in 2016 and last week Seeking Alpha repeated the call for Apple to buy Adobe. There are many reasons it would be great for creative professionals if Apple buys Adobe this year. While a number of analysts see this is a useful move, there’s been no comment from Apple whether they might buy Adobe. Apple has enough cash to buy Adobe, with more than $250 billion in cash reserves, Apple could buy Adobe with no debt and still have more than $150 billion in cash, leaving it with enough to also buy car company Tesla and still have more than $100 billion. An acquisition of Adobe by Apple would benefit Adobe’s customers, and provide long-term value for Apple and their shareholders.

Apple would improve Adobe’s focus on User Experience

Apple is relentless and focusing on improving the user experience. Apple products and apps emphasize simplicity and give thought to the scenarios in which a user will want to utilize their creations. Adobe emphasizes quantity over quality, adding more features and tools to their apps rather than considering how they will be used. The results is that Adobe customers can no longer comprehend the Adobe apps without Adobe training because a small number of apps each have thousands of features and tools. A user could take more than six days of InDesign classes and still not know everything within the application, or would need more than 10 days of Photoshop classes to master the application. Compare this to the relative simplicity of Apple’s apps, such as Keynote or Final Cut, which require much less training.

Apple would improve Adobe’s focus on the long-term

Adobe is consistently worried about meeting the most recent quarterly sales targets. While this may be good for shareholders in the short term, in the long term their customers receive products that are rushed to market and are not built to last. The Apple culture would be good for Adobe’s product teams.

Adobe offers Apple both enterprise and creative customers

Adobe is no longer just a creative company. While they are best known for their creative tools such as Photoshop, they have a large and growing marketing, advertising, and analytics business they purchased from Omniture, and their PDF forms.

Apple offered to buy Adobe then the relationship soured

During the early days of Adobe Systems, Apple’s founder Steve Jobs expressed an interest in buying the company. This happened after Jobs saw a demonstration of Adobe’s printer technology PostScript which made desktop publishing possible. A decade after offering to have Apple buy Adobe, Jobs was railing against Adobe’s Flash platform, and how it was both riddled with bugs and energy inefficient, wearing down the batteries in mobile devices. He found Adobe’s Flash software so bad that he dictated it would not run on the iPhone and iPad, and publicly criticized Adobe. Jobs was also upset at Adobe’s decision to abandon the Mac OS for certain video applications, which led Apple to offer their own video and photo applications. At the time Jobs appeared to take it as a personal affront that Adobe would not offer their tools on the Mac OS.

Everything comes full circle in Apple-Adobe relationship

While Flash is still not available on Apple’s devices, Adobe has conceded defeat and effectively acknowledged that Apple was right in not supporting Flash. This month Adobe is renaming their Flash tool as Adobe Animate, and de-emphasizing the Flash file format as the web community as a whole has moved on to HTML5. With the personal history of Steve Jobs feelings towards Adobe also out of the way, with new CEOs at both companies, making a return to the early discussion of Apple buying Adobe more plausible.  While Apple does offer a number of apps, ranging from Keynote and Final Cut to Photos, the software applications business has been only a side note for the company. While Adobe’s tools run on Apple devices, it would require a dramatic shift in Apple’s emphasis for Apple to buy Adobe.


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