Should Microsoft Buy Macromedia?

My boss Scott Hotes just set up a new weblog (he calls it Interalia)! Very cool. And like many new bloggers, he's shot out of the gate with some decent diatribes on some things he's been mulling over for a while. One of them is the idea that Macromedia should be a natural takeover target for Microsoft:

As the PC OS continues to commoditize (see the recent announcement that Wal-Mart is selling a sub-$300 PC running SUN's java desktop), and the concept of distributed services continues to gain ground, can MSFT concentrate it's energies against this threat solely on a monolithic software release (Longhorn)? There are a number of obvious risks to this approach, probably the most interesting of which is that Longhorn, still at least 2 years out, is already raising security and interoperability concerns.

MSFT should continue on developing it's competing technologies (Sparkle/Avalon), but it would seem to make sense to both hedge it's bets, and acquire an ever-increasing developer base with Macromedia. Integration of the Flash technology into the .NET roadmap will no doubt be difficult, if not impossible, but what are the risks? If the Flash MX developer community has concerns, where will they go? What alternative technologies exist? Long term, the only answers come from MSFT.

Dr. Hotes goes on to expound on the decline of the PC business, rise of the mobile phones and Microsoft's smart phone strategy as well. Basically for 1/50th of Microsoft's cash-on-hand, they could buy Macromedia and hedge their bets both on the desktop while waiting for Longhorn and on the mobile phone market, taking advantage of Flash Lite and more powerful versions yet to come.

I have to say it makes sense, but I wonder why it hasn't happened so far? I mean, The Reg was predicting this was going to happen back in 2002. I would hate to see one of the last great San Francisco based tech companies become a piece of the Borg, but with Flash's reach and Microsoft's lack of product line for designers (to compete with Adobe and Apple) it seems like a no brainer for the Redmondites.

I'll have to assume that Macromedia is focused on the big prize, leveraging its success with Flash into other markets and higher revenues. Just because I'm not applying to Macromedia any more doesn't mean my opinions I wrote last year about their their toolset and focus as a company has changed. I really do think they're putting the right ideas and applications out there. I like the MX suite of tools and I really like Flash Lite and FlashCast. And having applied there, I think their culture as a company is pretty great as well. They seem to have the right idea and the right players to get things happening.

It'd be a real shame if it ended up being a division of Microsoft, really.


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