Adobe on Apple: It's a family thing

Ancient grudges, rows and pointless bickering, then?

Adobe has refuted suggestions that it's cool about the current state of Mac OS X, telling us today that Illustrator and InDesign will be the first to appear on Mac OS X.

If there are strains between the two giants, Susan Prescott, Adobe's Veep of marketing for cross platform publishing, was putting the best possible face on the relationship.

"The relationship is almost familial in its intensity," she told us today.

Ah, yes, quite, we wondered. Don't normal families spend a good amount of time bickering pointlessly? Aren't the most heated rows between kin?

"I'm using the analogy loosely," she said. "The relationship will continue to last for a long time, there's a lot of mutual respect," said Prescott.

So we returned to some of the areas of alleged contention. Did Adobe think Apple should be in the applications business?

"We can't comment on what Apple's business strategy should be."

Would Adobe promise to release applications at the same time for the Mac as Windows?

"Absolutely. We aim for simultaneous parity releases ? unless there's a systemic issue," she said.

And would that extend to simultaneous releases for the new Mac OS X as well as the venerable MacOS?

"They'll be available simultaneously as the platform evolves," which you might want to translate as sure, when we're ready to extend that commitment to OS X, we'll extend that commitment to OS X. But 'not yet'. Prescott reiterated Apple's commitment to roll out Mac OS X versions of the major products along with major revisions. Adobe won't commit to defining what's a 'major product' for us, or when the major revisions will be due.

So did Adobe agree with Jobs' WWDC keynote, where he put the frightener on laggard ISVs by suggesting many users would switch to alternative products if native OS X versions were available sooner?

This got an intriguing answer.

"Rushing is probably the wrong mindset for our community. Porting to any new OS is not a trivial task. We won't be sacrificing product quality for expediency."

"We will take our time to get it right for all operating systems including OS X. Customers expect innovative software and we will deliver nothing less."

Was Adobe happy with the support it was getting from Apple in terms of API support? Prescott didn't answer this directly, but replied thus:-

"Within the context of what can be expected, yes. We feel in general Apple has been great at working with us at a peer-to-peer level and when issues come up Apple has done a great job" she said.

Prescott wouldn't comment on the relationship between the two over Quartz, the PDF-based imaging component in OS X. Quartz's precursor was developed in conjunction with NeXT, and the latter paid Adobe a royalty fee. But Apple developed Quartz itself from public PDF specs, and Adobe doesn't get a fee.

"Acrobat is the best tool for PDF generation - but for the OS Quartz is a great solution," said Prescott. "Talk to the hand."

(Actually we made that last part up. What Susan really said was "Talk to Apple").

So with much talk of the Mac as a "strong vital platform", a "long-standing relationship that remains strong" and a "common customer base," we signed off. There's no new dirt here, says Prescott, which we don't doubt.

But one veteran Mac watcher characterized the relationship most succinctly in an email last week, describing it as "a big fat chess game". "Adobe is telling Apple to leave the market alone and Adobe will get to OS X when it is good and ready," he wrote. As you were... ®

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