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Next CEO aims to take Adobe mobile while staying grounded

Incoming CEO Shantanu Narayen eyes support for Google's Android, as part of a push into mobile computing and services.

Expect a measured expansion from Adobe's traditional businesses into online services and mobile computing, says incoming Adobe Systems CEO Shantanu Narayen.

Narayen was named president and CEO of the Silicon Valley company on Monday. He will succeed his mentor, Bruce Chizen, at the start of December. Nayaren had been president and chief operating officer and was one of the architects behind the 2005 merger with Macromedia.

Shantanu Narayen, incoming Adobe CEO

In a nutshell, the company's strategy is to capitalize on the growth of digital content creation and delivery over the Internet. Viewed in that context, Adobe has plenty of room to grow even as it competes with much larger companies such as Microsoft and Google, he said.

"If you look at our footprint, which is another way to look at it, we have one of the largest in the industry through the ubiquity we've been able to accomplish with the Flash Player and the Adobe Reader," Narayen said in an interview Monday.

Going forward, Adobe's next important platform is the AIR, or Adobe Integrated Runtime, software that allows Web applications to run on desktop PCs.

Ultimately, Narayen said that applications written for AIR and Flash will help Adobe expand its reach further into mobile devices, set-top boxes, and gaming machines.

Rather than view it as a competitive mobile platform, he sees Google's Android software for mobile phones as another way to bring more Flash applications and PDF documents to the mobile Internet.

"Flash Lite already works on Symbian's OS and Windows Mobile, as well as other mobile OSes like Nokia's operating system. So in that sense, if they build an operating system that gains a lot of market share, we can build Flash on top of that," Narayen said.

He anticipates largely organic growth by moving further into mobile software and Web-delivered services for consumers and businesses.

Although the $3.4 billion merger with Macromedia is viewed as a success for the company, Narayen said that its acquisition strategy in the future will focus on smaller technology-oriented company purchases.

"We're excited about going for these opportunities as an independent company, and we will continue to look at small acquisitions to beef up our portfolio," he said.