Microsoft Talks to Adobe: Buyout Possible?

Microsoft is making headlines but probably not for the reasons it wants to. Sure, Windows Phone 7 (WP7) launches with AT&T and T-Mobile on Monday but possibly the bigger story is that Microsoft’s CEO had a secret meeting with Adobe’s CEO. That’s right, Steve Ballmer went to Adobe’s HQ to talk to Shantanu Narayen with a small group of executives. What might the heads of two of the most well known tech companies in the world talk about? Apple naturally.

Apple’s CEO—Steve Jobs—snubbed Adobe and its Flash format on his iOS platform and only recently has even allowed apps designed with Adobe’s tools be allowed into the iTunes App Store. That probably was only due to the pressure from the Feds and possible litigation against it because of anti-competitive practices. Mr. Jobs has even stated before that he basically thinks Flash is a piece of junk.

Microsoft and Apple have been rivals since he beginning of time in computer years. Apple nearly went into oblivion in the mid to late 1990s but then Steve Jobs came back as CEO (he co-founded the company in his garage) and started making iMacs and iPods. Now Apple is worth more than Microsoft on the stock market and Microsoft obviously doesn’t like it.

WP7 is Microsoft’s big chance to get a strong foot in the smartphone market and teaming up with Adobe certainly might help. Which brings up the next thing that was supposedly discussed at the secret meeting: a buyout. According to the New York Times, Microsoft already has had its eyes on buying Adobe “several years ago” but the talks stalled out. Anyone ready for Microsoft to own Adobe?

The thought of a Adobe owned by Microsoft might be a little scary, but who wouldn’t want Microsoft Office to pack Adobe Photoshop? Both companies are very interested in mobile platforms and both are worried about being marginalized by the Google and Apple storm. Hopefully if the deal does come to fruition, some more direct pressure will be placed on Apple and Google to keep innovating. Right now in the US, there sometimes seems to be only three smartphone companies: Apple, Google and Research In Motion (RIM).

Yes, I know, Android is an operating system and not an actual phone, but who really cares who makes their smartphone as long as it has a solid user interface and plenty of apps and music to go around. It’s not like Apple actually produces their iPhone themselves. They just design it and the operating system then send the specs off to Taiwan. A Microsoft and Adobe partnership in any form could certainly bring us some better mobile solutions to video and applications.

Let me know if you think Microsoft wants to buy Adobe or just wants first dibs on new Adobe technologies to compete in the smartphone market. Any ideas on what the first product of the partnership could be?

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