Adobe's Record Quarter Makes Its Claims of Apple Abuse Harder to Believe

Last Updated Jun 23, 2010 1:00 PM EDT

Adobe (ADBE) and Apple (AAPL) have had a raucous fight over putting Flash on iOS platform products: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch. But take a look at Adobe's latest quarterly earnings, which produced record numbers for the company, and you might wonder what the big deal is:
In the second quarter of fiscal 2010, Adobe achieved record revenue of $943.0 million, compared to $704.7 million reported for the second quarter of fiscal 2009 and $858.7 million reported in the first quarter of fiscal 2010. This represents 34 percent year-over-year revenue growth. Adobe's second quarter revenue target range was $875 to $925 million.
As I've said in the past, never pay much attention to how a tech company's earnings compare to analyst estimates, as the entire industry is addicted to gaming guidance. Executives always want to look as though they've created an earnings breakthrough because it does nice things to the stock numbers and the value of their options.

That aside, Adobe clearly had a hot quarter. The big reason is Creative Suite 5, a bundle of Web design tools. Photoshop alone -- one component of CS5 -- had some killer new features. The entire collection of applications offered many reasons for users of older versions to move up. All this success raises the question of why Adobe needs to put its software on iOS in the first place.

The answer is the future. Adobe is entrenched on the desktop, but hasn't yet made a splash in mobile, largely because it hadn't gotten its act together sufficiently to release a lightweight version of Flash for smartphones and tablets. Just yesterday the company finally released a version of Flash for Google (GOOG) Android. But it's terribly late in the game, and many have already started to look at HTML 5 as a potential alternative.

Apple has the most influential mobile operating system, even if it's not the biggest seller, and Adobe, naturally, wants on the platform. Apple hasn't backed down. So Adobe cried foul to the feds, but does this level of success undermine the complaint? Chances are it will make it tougher for Adobe to convincingly point to injuries, and if you're not being hurt by another company's activities, you can't really claim they're anti-competitive.


Image: user lusi, site standard license.
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    Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. The views expressed in this column belong to Sherman and do not represent the views of CBS Interactive. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman or on Facebook.