The new year was already looking interesting for Adobe Systems ( ADBE), which expects to launch a long-awaited update to its flagship Creative Suite in the spring. But things became even more interesting for the maker of Acrobat and Photoshop software week after Apple ( AAPL) captivated the tech world this week with the
unveiling of the iPhone . The new device is likely to kick off a mobile-content arms race among carriers, and Adobe is well-positioned to supply some of the ammo. Here's why: Adobe, which snapped up Macromedia at the end of 2005, has already established a strong beachhead in the telephony world via a deal with Japanese telco giant NTT DoCoMo ( DCM). A compact version of Macromedia's flash multimedia player, called Flash Light, is now on millions of phones in Japan. What's more, DoCoMo is using a server version of the player, called FlashCast, to push content to the company's "ichannels," which include news, sports, weather and so on. Every time a Japanese consumer hits an ichannel, Adobe collects a bit of revenue. To be sure, Adobe's mobile and device solutions business unit is still a small part of the San Jose, Calif.-based company's revenue. In the fourth quarter, mobile revenue was about $12.1 million, or 2% of overall sales, and $32.7 million on the year. But that number is a bit misleading. Purchase accounting rules related to the Macromedia acquisition kept some $59 million off the income statement in 2006, much of which would have been attributed to the mobile group, says Adobe Vice President Mike Saviage.