The speed with which Adobe Systems Inc managed to close the deal over at Sun Microsystems Inc for its PostScript, Display PostScript and other imaging technologies came down to the wire, according to Dano Ybarra, marketing manager for Adobe’s display products group, one of the mentors of the agreement. We wanted to announce [the agreement] in time for Seybold, said Ybarra, referring to the publising industry seminar that was held in San Francisco at the end of September. The haste with which Adobe urged Sun to put its signature to the contract Ybarra says he was was collecting autographs late into the evening out at Sun’s Mountain View headquarters – is thought to have alienated Sun’s SunPics print division, which apparently wanted no part of an agreement that it had been told of only days beforehand.
However, Ybarra claims that SunPics’ reluctance had more to do with the fact that henceforth it will have to pay for Adobe imaging technologies like PostScript and Display PostScript. SunPics previously got its PostScript interpreter free of charge from SunSoft Inc. The deal was the culmination of a year of talks between Adobe and Sun on how to bring the technology market, says Ybarra, the initial plan being to implement a joint product strategy without actually signing a formal agreement. The Adobe technology is to be integrated with those components of SunSoft’s X11/NeWS Network-extensible Windowing System and SunPics’ NewsPrint system that can still offer specific advantages to Sun users, but Ybarra concurs with other observers, who argue that in light of the deal there is now little future for either of them as they exist now and that a name-change is only a matter of time. Shedding more light on Sun’s desire to make the deal, Ybarra claims that when Adobe gave Display PostScript to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology X Consortium Sun saw a way out of NeWS. From Ybarra’s point of view, the post-agreement SunPics becomes a value-added reseller of Adobe technology, offering networking, installation and other Unix-specific expertise.
SunSoft will begin offering Adobe imaging products for the Solaris 2.X operating system from the middle of next year, SunPics will have the stuff in Unix System V.4 versions of its print system during the second half of 1993 – both of them under the Open Look graphical user interface. Until then, and for users of SunOS and Solaris 1.X environments, Sun users can get Display PostScript from Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Integrated Computer Solutions Inc following a parallel deal Adobe struck last month. And because Sun will only carry Open Look-based products through its distribution channels, Integrated Computer will also be supplying Motif-based versions of the Adobe WYSIWYG software for existing users that have already defected to the rival interface, and for those that will run Motif on Solaris 2.X. The Motif-on-Sun implementation wasn’t a problem, according to Ybarra, as Motif versions of its software are recompilations of the original implementation it did on a Digital Equipment Corp Ultrix box running Motif. The Open Look implementation, however took a year to complete. Whether Sun has actually got a hold of Adobe source code as part of the deal, a rare occurance (UX No 405), Ybarra said he couldn’t comment. However, he admitted that the company does enable key partners to see portions of it. The Sun agreements were the first part of a strategy devised by Adobe’s four-month-old Display Products Group to take the Unix field by storm – and there remains the Interactive Systems Unix side of Sun’s business to be mopped up, Ybarra reminds us. With Unix coming down to the desktop and moving into the commercial arena, Adobe feels their two paths are beginning to come togther, even if Unix still represents only a tiny piece of its business. With Sun and Integrated Computer down the hatch, Adobe has other fish to fry. It would love to count Unix System Laboratories Inc as a catch for Display PostScript – so far Unix Labs has just nibbled and take
n the Adobe Type Manager for print functionality in Unix. Hewlett-Packard Co too is on its list.
Pre-Sun, Adobe claims it had 25% of the non-Intel Corp market for Unix-based display print systems. NeWS had 33%, and others not Display PostScript of any form – had 42%. With Sun, it reckons Display PostScript owns 61% of the market and others will hold 39%. Most of that 39% is taken up by Hewlett-Packard, says Ybarra, pointing to the company’s endorsement of Adobe technology in its printer business, but not for its workstations. There’s nothing in the pipeline between Hewlett-Packard and Adobe at present on the Unix side, says Ybarra, but following Sun’s lead, it would be more surprising if the two weren’t already talking. Santa Cruz Operation Inc Unix is a different creature altogether, and not really of concern to Adobe at present, because most of Santa Cruz products shipped are still transaction and ASCII-based not graphical interface-based. Meanwhile Adobe’s well documented clash of cultures with Microsoft Corp carries on – we won’t be able to license our core technologies to Microsoft for Windows NT, Ybarra declares firmly.