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Adobe skipping Macworld Expo

The publishing software giant calls its decision a cost-cutting measure, not a sign of any rift with Apple Computer.

    When Macworld Expo kicks off next week in New York, Adobe Systems will be conspicuously absent from the show floor.

    However, the publishing software giant stressed in a series of interviews with media outlets this week that its absence at Macworld should not be seen as a slap at Apple Computer and denied any rift between the two companies.

    "We're here to make sure we're supporting Apple," Brian Lamkin, Adobe's senior vice president of Web publishing, said of its public relations effort. Lamkin asserted that there was no pressure from Apple to make the media blitz, saying that Adobe's comments are an attempt to respond to inquiries from customers.

    Adobe's support is important for Apple. Analysts have said that the speed with which Mac users adopt Mac OS X will likely depend on how quickly major software makers introduce programs optimized to take advantage of the operating system's new features, such as its new graphic interface and greater stability. Microsoft, which will have a large presence at Macworld, plans to release an OS X version of its Office software this fall.

    Adobe has been pledging commitment to Apple's new operating system for some time, but has yet to release a firm timeline for bringing its key products--especially Photoshop--to OS X, which was released in March. That has fueled speculation of problems between the two companies.

    "Any time you bring out a major operating system, there are issues that you work out," Lamkin said, adding that Adobe and Apple have been doing just that.

    Adobe representatives characterized the decision to be absent from Macworld's show floor as a purely financial one for the company. And despite its lack of a booth there, Adobe is sending individuals to take part in the show.

    The company did have a booth at Macworld Expo in San Francisco in January but has since skipped other major trade shows to save money. In addition, like a number of other tech companies, Adobe closed its offices during the week of July 4 to help cut costs.

    Lamkin said Adobe has made no significant changes to its timeframe for bringing its titles to Mac OS X and said Adobe is basically happy with the operating system.

    "I think we're finding the platform in general very stable," Lamkin said.

    Adobe's plan, all along, has been to support OS X as part of each software program's next major release, Lamkin said. So far, the only software title Adobe has introduced for Mac OS X is Acrobat, a program for reading and editing PDF (Portable Document Format) files. Last month, Adobe announced the latest version of PageMaker, but it only supports OS X in so-called Classic mode, a version of Mac OS 9.1 that is built into the new operating system.

    Although Adobe is not saying exactly when it will introduce new versions of its other programs, Lamkin provided the basis for a rough estimate. Lamkin said Adobe typically updates its publishing programs every 15 months to 18 months.

    The first major programs to be updated for Mac OS X will be InDesign, a page layout program, and Illustrator, a graphics program. Given that InDesign came out last spring and Illustrator last summer, both would appear to be candidates for release later this year. However, given that Adobe's flagship program, Photoshop, was upgraded last fall, a Mac OS X version may not appear until 2002.

    Aleksandar Zorovic, an analyst at Robertson Stephens, downplayed the notion that a souring relationship with Apple is affecting Adobe's product plans.

    "When they make these kinds of decisions, they are very pragmatic," Zorovic said. "It's not that they like Apple or they don't like Apple."

    Zorovic said Adobe is seeing a gradual shift of its customers to Windows-based computers but said it is not Adobe that is driving the change.

    "It is not because Adobe is pushing it," Zorovic said. "It is because customers are buying for the machines they have."