Adobe announces strong results though much of the business looks flat

Adobe has announced its financial results for its second quarter. Revenue is up 9% year on year, and profits are up too, so it looks like a strong quarter. However, the success is really limited to a couple of business segments.

Here is the comparison with the equivalent quarter last year:

  Q2 2010 Q2 2011
Creative and interactive 429.3 433.1
Digital Media 139.3 136.7
Digital Enterprise 231.9 283.5
Omniture 91.9 115.9
Print and publishing 56.6 54

Adobe has changed the segmentation of these figures since last time I looked, removing the confusing Platform and splitting out Digital Media. Broadly:

  • Creative and interactive is most of Creative Suite and the Flash platform including both developer tools and streaming servers. It also includes the nascent Digital Publishing Suite for  Apple iPad and tablet publications.
  • Digital Media is Creative Suite Production Premium and individual sales of Photoshop. Premiere Pro, After Effects and Audition.
  • Digital Enterprise Solutions is the LiveCycle middleware, now rebranded as part of the Digital Enterprise Platform, plus the content management platform acquired with Day Software in October 2010, and Acrobat.
  • Omniture is self-explanatory; this is the analytics business acquired in 2009.
  • Print and Publishing is a bunch of tools including, oddly, ColdFusion but not InDesign. Technical authoring sits here, as does Director.

So what do these figures tell us? Creative Suite is trundling on OK, but no more than that, particularly when you consider that Q2 included the release of a paid-for upgrade, CS5.5. Revenue from Digital Media is slightly down, as is Print and publishing.

The strong results are in Digital Enterprise, following the acquisition of Day, and in Omniture.

Both of these were smart acquisitions in my view, though I am not a financial analyst. In a connected era, analytics is crucial, with great potential for integration with the design and development tools.

The enterprise middleware also seems to be going well. This is really a strange amalgam of the old Adobe document publishing and workflow servers with the application services that came from Macromedia. Throw Day software into the mix, with Roy Fielding’s content-centric vision for application development, and you have an interesting platform.

Adobe is also benefiting from the Apple-led revolution towards design-centric software.

That said, not everything is going Adobe’s way. The momentum behind both HTML5 and Apple iOS is a threat to the Flash business. Never mind the technical arguments, the fact is that designers are more likely to be working on removing Flash from their web pages than putting it in. Adobe also needs to sustain its prices, and there is plenty of downward pressure on software prices today, partly driven by Apple and its App Store model. I also get the impression that the hosted services at Acrobat.com have not taken off in the way Adobe had hoped.

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