Macromedia and Adobe

Let’s try a little word association…

Macromedia – pretty good software, responsive to customers, innovative web products, creative, good company, “gets” the web

Adobe – stiff corporate culture, used to be a good software company, used to be innovative, used to be creative, “gets” print but not the web, used to be…

This may seem a bit one sided but the reality out there is that Adobe has a bad reputation among many web designers. They make the reviled Acrobat Reader which disrupts web browsing, crashes browsers, and annoys designers and usability types alike. Photoshop is spiffy, Illustrator does good things, GoLive is generally unused. The company just seems to have lost the drive to make great innovative software for designers. Their acquisition of Macromedia seems to be an effort to get rid of their biggest rival in an effort to be a monopoly rather than a move to improve their product offerings for print and web designers. The marketing material talks about better serving the customers but it seems forced and insincere.

I’m dreading the seemingly inevitable loss of Macromedia’s openness and responsiveness in favor of Adobe’s somewhat cold relationship with their customers. I worry that the positive corporate culture at Macromedia will have its spirit crushed by Adobe’s stodgier corporate culture. John Gruber’s article on the acquisition provides some interesting insights into how Adobe ended up this way.

Things may shake out well. In a perfect world Adobe will learn from Macromedia and we’ll see the best of the interface conventions from each company integrated into new, better products. Macromedia’s people will shake up the stagnating Adobe culture and bring new life and creative energy to the development slate. But, somehow, I doubt that’s what will happen here. This feels too much like the big fish eating the small one. I don’t see most of the things we really like about Macromedia and its products surviving much longer.

Well, here’s hoping that things shake out well. If not, all of our jobs may be a bit harder and less pleasant in the future as the tools of the trade suffer.

Kevin Hall
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