They say the enemy of your enemy is your friend. But what if you have another enemy and that first enemy also hates your second enemy, who just happens to be wiping the floor with you? Do you issue a détente with enemy one in order to jointly conspire to undermine enemy two? (This is why so many corporate leaders comb Sun Tzu for insights; it gets complicated.) Back in 2007, the already tense relationship between Microsoft and Adobe got combative after Microsoft began promoting Silverlight, a direct competitor to Adobe’s software plug-in, Flash. But the New York Times recently learned of a secret meeting between the two companies, in which they discussed Apple’s dominance in the mobile-phone market and whether a possible partnership might help them gain share. AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher calls bullshit on the story.
Memo to the Times: When there is an acquisition afoot — in my experience — it’s all private airplanes and law offices and not a company HQ visit by the very loud and very noticeable [Steve] Ballmer, the exact polar opposite of a shrinking violet.
According to the Times, the companies, who have met before, discussed Steve Jobs’s decision to block Flash on Apple’s handheld devices. On the table was the possibility that Microsoft might buy Adobe, the maker of popular software like Photoshop, InDesign, and InCopy. Times commenter Steve V. says, “It’s kind of interesting to think about the collective gasp of abject horror that would ensue if the world’s least creative company bought the company most of the world’s creative artists depend on.”
Swisher, who noted that Adobe’s stock went wild after the Times story came out, jumping up 11.5 percent, says if there is an acquisition in the works, it’s much more likely to come from Google, who demonstrated a strong support for Flash in launching Google TV. Along with its online publishing software, adds Swisher, Adobe has its Omniture unit, a dominant force in web analytics, which is one of Google’s primary playing grounds.