Apple Seeking a Reunion With Adobe?

Includes: AAPL, ADBE
by: Dan Farber

Robert Cringely makes a case for Apple buying Adobe:

What I DO see happening is Apple buying Adobe, which would give it effective dominance of digital content creation and distribution on a global scale. Bruce Chizen suddenly stepped down as Adobe’s CEO without warning: why? A caretaker CEO (my characterization — no slight intended) is in place. Steve has always viewed Adobe co-founder and co-chair John Warnock like a father. Warnock and co-chair Chuck Geschke are losing interest in Adobe day-to-day as they move on with their lives. Acquiring Adobe would make Apple much more of a cross-platform company. The combined professional applications could be placed in the Adobe division of Apple where they could go up in price for some markets, becoming VASTLY more profitable. But most important — keeping in mind the whole purpose here is driving content distribution — merging Flash and QuickTime would make any other video standards (like Windows Media) simply immaterial.

If such an acquisition were to take place it would have to be in 2008 while Avid and Microsoft still present credible competition to keep the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission from opposing such a merger. It would go easier, too, on W’s watch. I knew he was good for something.

Apple has more than $15 billion in cash and no debt, and Abode’s current market cap is about $22 billion. Jobs does have a lot of history with Adobe– Abode PostScript and PhotoShop were critical to the success of the Mac. A union might make sense on a whiteboard, but it’s hard to imagine Steve Jobs acquiring something that could be a major management distraction from the relative simplicity that Apple is now–Mac, iPhone, iPod, iLife. On the other hand, iAcrobat, iFlash and iPhotoshop could fit in with where Jobs wants to take Apple. It depends on whether he has the appetite for another reincarnation of his company.