By Jon Fortt
October 19, 2006

Adobe Systems CEO Bruce Chizen on Wednesday heaped praise on the Mac Pro, Apple Computer’s latest desktop machine for those power users who tend to buy Adobe software.

He also said Apple remains an important platform partner, though it isn’t yet clear whether the Mac maker’s improving sales will translate into more clout in the software world. “In terms of strategic importance, it’s as important as it’s been the past couple of years,” Chizen told The Utility Belt in a chat a few minutes after Apple reported results that blew away Wall Street’s expectations.

Though he hadn’t listened in on the Apple earnings call himself, Chizen said someone had sent him a note about a reference to Adobe. When asked why sales of the Mac Pro were relatively lackluster, an Apple executive said he believed many creative professionals were waiting on a new version of Adobe’s Creative Suite that’s optimized for Intel chips.

“We’re working as hard as we can, but it’s going to be great for both of us once we ship,” Chizen said. “The Mac Pro in particular is such a stellar machine. … They’ve done

such a good job of catering to the power user and to those who have

design sensibilities – they have the potential of possibly taking some market

share, which will make them more important to us.”

No doubt, Apple would love to take market share in professional machines and become more important to Adobe.

As the two Silicon Valley companies have grown during this decade, the longtime allies have drifted a bit further apart. (They’re far from being strangers: Apple CEO Steve Jobs has been known to give Chizen sneak peeks at new Apple hardware.)

At Adobe, priorities have changed. While creative software remains important, Adobe’s top-selling

product is the Acrobat suite of digital document software. That

works on Macs, but Adobe’s biggest customers are governments and

corporations that manage staggering volumes of digital documents –

and often do it on Windows PCs.

For Apple’s part, the iPod music and video player has become the company’s top-selling product line, and the gadget leads Apple’s largest growth segment. In the past, partnerships with Adobe tended to be at the core of Apple’s new product launches; many Mac users run Adobe’s creative software, and even the Mac OS X operating system has Adobe’s PDF technology built into the plumbing. Not so with the iPod.

These shifts have occurred while sales of Apple’s professional desktop computers have languished in recent years. While such computers were once Apple’s biggest profit driver, professional laptops appear to be taking that crown from desktops. Adobe creative software still runs on Mac laptops of course, but the true power users will still buy the most powerful desktop machines.

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