Adobe buys Macromedia, Microsoft buys Adobe...
... and I buy Microsoft! Muhahahaha! My plans are proceeding perfectly :)
As you've no doubt heard by now unless you were blissfully asleep -- as I was, and it was a good night's rest too thank-you-very-much! -- Adobe has agreed to buy Macromedia for $3.4 billion. The news wires are alight with reports of the decision and, of course, hapless reporters are falling over themselves to get key technological facts wrong. Angus Whitney, from London, who writes for Bloomberg, for example, states that Adobe is purchasing Macromedia "to add Flash Web-design programs to its offerings." It's good to know that as a result of this move, Swish and Swift 3D will be added to the Adobe lineup :) The article goes on to state that the Flash Player "displays moving images and sound on Web pages, is installed in more than 98 percent of Internet-connected desktop computers." Moving images and sound (how cool!) and it's good to know that Flash hasn't infected any non-Internet-connected notebook computers (or the Slashdot crowd would really have an aneurysm!) But I digress... oh, they make it too easy to digress...
Clueless reporting aside, the fact remains that we are standing at the end of one era and the start of another.
The merger will mean the end of an identity -- albeit corporate -- that some of us have become somewhat attached to. I, for one, am going to miss Macromedia. I started out with Director, Flash, Dreamweaver and remember their earliest days... At least in my eyes, Adobe was always the calculated older brother, releasing solid software that just worked -- perhaps not groundbreaking software, but definitely bread and butter software you could rely on day-in-day-out. And Macromedia... the snotty-nosed kid with the propensity to get itself into trouble. Sure, you'd tell the kid, "can't you be more like your older brother... look how stable his software is, etc." but at the same time you admired the kid's ability to take risks, try something new and pick itself up from the ground after falling flat on his face. The kid gave us Flash, Director and Dreamweaver and then went and bought Allaire. Macromedia entered puberty with the purchase of Allaire and we started seeing the "serious" side of the kid. New releases of Coldfusion were followed by other solid server-side products like Flash Communication Server, Breeze and Flex. At this point, we knew he was growing up and soon we'd have to send him off to college. I'm going to miss the snotty-nosed kid but something tells me that the essence of that character will survive the merger and will add strength to a new, stronger Adobe.
Stomach-churning sentimentality aside (and, needless to say, hoard those Macromedia goodies they may be worth something some day), I am very excited about the future and what this merger will mean. Adobe is an excellent company with a strong track record of putting out some of the most stable, solid software I've seen. The story I like to tell is that of the one time Photoshop made my computer crash. It didn't even cross my mind that the problem could be with the application and I instead ran a hardware diagnostic on my computer -- only to find that it was, indeed, a hard-drive failure on my scratch disk that had caused the crash. Thus, I can only imagine that Macromedia's tools will gain in stability as time goes by. Of course, one of the top questions on everyone's minds is which products will survive the merger and which won't.
There are some products that are sure bets: Adobe would have no reason to kill them off as they do not compete in any way with its own products. These include Coldfusion, Breeze, Flex, Central, Director and Flash.
Then there are those products that will most likely be killed off as Adobe has superior alternatives. I would put Fireworks (Photoshop) and FreeHand (Illustrator) in this category.
Finally, there are those products that currently compete head-to-head with each other but where each have their own strengths and weaknesses: Dreamweaver and Contribute and GoLive. I can see Contribute continuing on as is in the short-term but perhaps we will see some sort of consolidation between Dreamweaver and GoLive. I actually haven't used the latest version of GoLive but from the reviews that I've read it appears to compare very favorably with Dreamweaver (it has historically trailed behind.) It is also not a stretch to see FlashPaper being integrated into Adobe Acrobat (I sure hope that Adobe don't choose to kill FlashPaper as it has a bright future.)
As a deseloper, I am excited that Flash will no doubt be included in one of the upcoming Creative Suites. Imagine the new Creative Suite Premium: Flash, Photoshop, Golive/Dreamweaver, Illustrator, Acrobat, Version Cue, Bridge and Stock Photos. Yummy! Of course, "Adobe Flash" is going to take some getting used to. I also predict that we will see a much tighter integration between Flash and Adobe's video products: Premiere Pro and After Effects. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Flash was also included in a future Adobe Video Collection.
The future of the software aside, the merger will no doubt benefit those of us in Europe as Adobe appear to have a bigger presence here than Macromedia.All in all, I am very excited about this merger and I can't wait to see what comes of it... I'm sure I'll have other thoughts on this as time goes on and I'll try to share them with you here.