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Adobe bids to defend digital dominance

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Adobe believes its technology sits on more computers than Microsoft's Windows.

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SAN JOSE, California (CNN) -- Software company Adobe has a hand in almost everything we see in print and on the Web.

From a pop music video, to the design of a can of Coke and a magazine layout -- Adobe is probably there.

Its products -- which include Photoshop, Illustrator and Acrobat -- have become the building blocks of the media industry, with Adobe claiming its technology sits on more computers than Microsoft's Windows.

"If you look at the different ways in which people are communicating -- through print, Web, video, wireless -- as well as the different devices in which people are consuming information -- if you want it to be good, chances are it's Adobe software helping you to do that," Adobe president Shantanu Narayen told CNN.

Part of this saturation is the company's Portable Document Format -- better known as PDF -- its format for viewing digital documents. Adobe's Acrobat software writes the files.

"We think it's virtually ubiquitous. I don't know of a single PC that doesn't have the ability to read the Adobe PDF file format."

Sales of Acrobat, along with Adobe's other titles, are fueling the company's 15 percent growth forecast this year, to a revenue target of $1.9 billion dollars.

And yet, despite all of this, Adobe is facing a rough patch, due largely to an economic slowdown that could clip media budgets and hurt one of its core clients, creative professionals.

Adobe rival and software giant Microsoft, meanwhile, is planning an all-out assault with an Acrobat copycat, which could make Adobe suffer, according to experts.

"When Microsoft sets its sights on something, you want to take that seriously. They cannot ignore the threat, but they are well poised right now to defend against it," Jupiter Research's Michael Gutenberg told CNN.

But Adobe is fighting back, thanks to a recent $3.4 billion takeover deal of software house Macromedia, known for its Web design tools, including Dreamweaver, and Flash, the popular Web animation technology.

By bringing Macromedia into the fold, Narayen believes his company can better serve an emerging digital audience.

"Mobility is a huge area," he said. "When you think about countries in Asia -- countries like India and China -- where people will likely access the Internet through a mobile device rather than a PC, we want to be the company that enables people to offer content for those devices."

But more immediate returns are expected from the latest version of PDF -- a version that supports 3D animated blueprints for engineers and architects.

This is a full-throttle digital file -- and it's coming soon to a desktop near you.

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