Freehand, GoLive Could Be Out After 'Macrodobe' Merger

Adobe&s powerful PDF/Illustrator franchise and Macromedia&s Dreamweaver as well as its ubiquitous Flash presence on PCs, Macs and other devices, could make the merged company a prodigious counterweight even to Microsoft, several observers said.

San Francisco-based Macromedia has said the penetration of its Flash media player on nearly every PC, portable and cell phone makes it more widely used than Windows—a claim few analysts dispute.

But while many of Adobe&s and Macromedia&s respective offerings are complementary, there is also overlap that could lead to the combined company either divesting or de-emphasizing some offerings.

The companies have been mum on product plans, pending government approval of the merger, but observers say there are clues as to future directions. Macromedia is already dropping FreeHand, for example, from its new Macromedia Studio 8 toolset.

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“There are two applications, one in each company&s product line, that could be considered superfluous after a deal—Adobe GoLive and Macromedia FreeHand,” said Sandee Cohen, a New York-based author and expert on graphical tools. “GoLive has never had anywhere near the market share that [Macromedia] Dreamweaver has, so it would be silly for Adobe to continue spending resources on GoLive.”

But while Adobe Illustrator dominates the professional graphics market, FreeHand poses a more difficult problem since there are still pockets of heavy use around the world, she added. “My personal view is that FreeHand will be dropped or sold,” said Cohen.

That could be a bonus for VARs and third-party developers. “In vector graphics, writing for both Illustrator and FreeHand is a massive undertaking. Now maybe they can write for just one,” she said.

James Burke, president of Mind&s Eye, Boston, a Macromedia partner, is bullish on the merger. “From a partner perspective, we rely heavily on [Macromedia] ColdFusion [and] Flex—the server products. And from what we&ve heard so far, it looks positive. They&re keeping those products alive and healthy. Now we&ll have additional opportunities to talk to some Adobe customers,” he said.

San Jose, Calif.-based Adobe is also positioning InDesign against QuarkXPress in high-end publishing.

In late August, nearly 99 percent of the shareholders who voted approved the merger.