Adobe's Macromedia deal sends M$ a message

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By acquiring rival software maker Macromedia in a deal originally valued at $3.4 billion, Adobe Systems is positioning itself to do battle with Microsoft over the tools to create, distribute and manage content online.

The deal, announced yesterday, would put Adobe's ubiquitous Acrobat document-sharing program under the same roof as Macromedia's Flash software for creating and viewing interactive content on Web sites independent of operating systems or devices.

Adobe, which also makes the Photoshop image-editing line and other programs for creative professionals and consumers, also gets the Web site-building application Dreamweaver as well as software for enabling real-time collaboration among business users.

Shares of San Francisco-based Macromedia closed at $36.72 yesterday, gaining $3.27, or nearly 9.8 percent. San Jose-based Adobe's shares lost $5.89, or 9.7 percent, to close at $54.77.

As digital content increasingly finds its way onto cellphones, handheld computers and even televisions, the makers of the tools for working with information are racing to make deals so that their technology is not left out as new standards emerge.

Macromedia has had success in persuading makers of cellphones and other non-PC devices to embed its Flash technology in their devices, Adobe Chief Executive Bruce Chizen said in an interview. Since the start of the year, Macromedia has inked deals with Nokia and Samsung Electronics.

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