Adobe-Omniture, Part 2

September 29, 2009

adobe-lqomniture

After my first glib reaction to the Adobe-Omniture deal, this past Friday it struck me that the proposed acquisition by Adobe deserves a lot more scrutiny.

So I’ve set myself the task to prepare a detailed in-depth report on the topic and publish it by next Monday.

I’ve collected all of the interesting articles and web posts on the subject, and this week I’m interviewing analysts, customers, competitors, interested observers and the like to try and fill in the rationale.

I do feel that this deal could be a major change in the way companies publish to the web, and hence to the future of publishing. And I’m working very hard with several fine colleagues to test the theory.

As far as I can see I’ll be the first to publish actual interviews with actual customers of the two company’s products. Surely the customers matter most.

I’m also doing an in-depth financial analysis: $1.8 billion is not spare change when buying a company that isn’t making money.

I’ll try to illustrate what the upside is, in concrete terms, and just as clearly, the downside.

I want very much to be fair, and let all voices be heard.

I’ve always admired Adobe, and don’t think that it would spend $1.8 million on a whim. But the value proposition has not been well-arcticulated by Adobe, and I’m having a heck of a time getting them to answer my emails and calls so that I can represent its viewpoint fairly.

To all of my readers: if you’ve got a perspective or insight on the subject, please comment to this entry or email me at thad@thefutureofpublishing.com.

Anyone who does so will receive a free copy of the report that will be priced at $95 (in PDF format, of course).

Over to you…

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Adobe Co-Founders to Receive National Medal of Technology and Innovation

September 26, 2009

I missed this story a week ago in the San Jose Mercury-News. According to its web site: “President Barack Obama…picked Adobe Systems co-founders Charles Geschke and John Warnock to receive…the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.”

medal

According to the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, “The National Medal of Technology and Innovation… is the highest honor for technological achievement bestowed by the President of the United States on America’s leading innovators.” Past winners include folks of the caliber of Carter Mead and Bob Metcalfe.  The awards will be bestowed on October 7 at a White House ceremony.

When you think about the history and development of digital publishing, no one can argue that John Warnock and Chuck Geschke are not the two most important players in transforming publishing into the extraordinary multiple media world we find it in today. Yes, Steve Jobs had the vision and the courage to create the hardware that would make Adobe’s innovations accessible, but PostScript was the basic ingredient that changed the whole palying field, as it formed the basis for digital type, Adobe Illustrator and later on, PDF. PostScript was invented by John Warnock and Chuck Geschke.

We credit the invention of the World Wide Web  to (Sir) Tim Berners-Lee, and correctly so. But I argue that without Adobe and Apple leading the world’s designers and publishers to move from analog processes and proprietary systems to fully embrace the digitization of text and images, the web would have been a non-starter.

My strongest congratulations to John and Chuck: the award is if anything overdue! You’ve both been heroes of mine for many years.

johnandchuck

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The Adobe-Omniture deal: Does it Make Sense?

September 16, 2009

This is the VERY obvious title I’ve pulled from a good ZDNet blog by Larry Dignan today.

Tonight I wrote to the Wall Street Journal reporters on the story (as there was no room for commenting):

“My first thought was that Adobe needed to spend a bunch of that cash they’ve got lying around to do something…anything…big time…to distract the investment community on what must now be 5 or 6 consecutive quarters of decreasing sales.

“Omniture is a strange buy as it does not relate to ANYTHING that Adobe is doing now (nor to its core mission). And they paid about twice what it’s worth. Based in Orem, Utah, the two corporate cultures should blend like oil and water.

“A desperate move in desperate times.

“I do modestly suggest that a little more critical analysis would benefit coverage of spending $1.8 billion by a public corporation with a high profile. Dear Shantanu is doing his best, but he’s an R&D man, unlike Bruce who preceded him, who was all sales and marketing.

“This move will be a huge goodwill write-off in the next few years, but may distract investors JUST LONG ENOUGH.”

I’m  in fact ashamed of Adobe with this purchase, and my shame is compounded by the price. If my sister brought Omniture home to dinner and introduced it as her new boyfriend, I’d leave the table.

As Dignan points out: “Most acquisitions make sense right away—with the exception of eBay-Skype and we know how that turned out—but I had trouble wrapping my head around the Adobe-Omniture deal. After sleeping on it, I admit I still don’t quite get the Omniture deal aside from the need for revenue diversification.”

Yes, and the alternative was pizza parlours.

Well,  time will no doubt tell. On the plus side I’ve always admired Adobe’s fine staff, from top to bottom, and I do wish them the best in this unconventional acquisition.

Update 9-17. More comment here.

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Quark Decides It’s Better to Join ‘Em Than Beat Them

October 27, 2008

Today Quark made a significant announcement:

“…Quark announced groundbreaking innovation in automated workflow publishing by extending the capabilities of Quark Publishing System 8 (QPS 8) to include support for both QuarkXPress and Adobe InDesign. QPS users now have the flexibility to use QuarkXPress with QuarkCopyDesk and Adobe InDesign with Adobe InCopy at the component level in a single workflow system. The capability to use both — or either — graphic design and page-layout program with QPS enables customers to streamline their publishing process to save time and reduce administration, training, and hardware costs.

“…We surveyed magazine and newspaper publishers, advertising agencies, and marketing groups and asked them what their most significant needs are for collaborative publishing today, said Linda Chase, General Manager for Quark Publishing System.The majority of respondents indicated they need to support both QuarkXPress and Adobe InDesign in their environments and would welcome a workflow system that does not dictate which page-layout and design application they use.

“Now, with QPS XTensions for Adobe InDesign, a customer’s choice for QPS gives them the flexibility to use both QuarkXPress and InDesign in one workflow system.”

As everyone who has been following the QuarkXPress versus Adobe InDesign battle knows, Quark spent probably too long on the high ground, assuming or deluding itself into a continued belief that it could actually win the battle. Over the last two releases of QuarkXPress the company has been seeking to essentially emulate the approach in Adobe’s Creative Suite, making it possible for many of its customers to incorporate Adobe technologies directly into Quark technologies, including Photoshop, Illustrator and Flash. And now the flagship product itself!

There is much speculation over how much market share Quark has lost during this protracted battle. Most analysts I speak to believe it is substantial, but haven’t got any numbers. A Google search provides no useful current data. I wrote today to press representatives at each company to see what their public position was on the subject.

Adobe’s response was terse: “Unfortunately, Adobe does not provide market share numbers.”

Quark’s was verbose, but not more informative: “Quark is committed to delivering continued innovation in desktop publishing software, and QuarkXPress 8 clearly shows this. It has been incredibly well received in numerous reviews and by customers, and we believe that healthy competition will continue to drive even more innovation to help designers push their creativity further.

“What’s more, not only have we listened and responded to customers who want to use both leading page-layout applications, Quark is helping customers output and deliver creative content to other channels through Quark Dynamic Publishing Solution, raising the bar for publishing solutions.”

I believe that Quark is following the correct approach by seeking to join ’em. Let’s see what Adobe does next.

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Sources are Leaking Adobe Creative Suite 4 News

September 22, 2008

I just received an email from Adobe’s PR agency as follows:

Hello –

Due to sources leaking Adobe Creative Suite 4 news prior to the previously set NDA date of 12:01 ET tonight, the NDA is now lifted effective immediately. Please feel free to post your coverage on CS4 and any of the related point products. Please let us know of any questions.

Best,

Eddie

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So I’m checking out some of those folks who just broke their contract with Adobe.

Apple Insider is declaring that the release is “Nothing Revolutionary.”

The Wall Street Journal has a small piece about tomorrow’s unveiling which reveals few details of the product.

I’m on page 6 of googling the topic and find only entries that either refer to Apple Insider or just mention that it will be unveiled tomorrow. In the “News” section on Google is a not very informative piece by CNET. I just can’t find anything that would cause Adobe to issue this supposedly alarming statement.

I’ll be posting a full review shortly, and as I intimated in yesterday’s blog entry, I think CS4 is big news. But with 16 different software programs in the combined suite it’s very complex to explain exactly why this is so. I’m going to make a measured evaluation and report back. Stay (patiently) tuned please.

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