The Adobe Systems-Apple battle over Flash is heating up. An open letter to Apple from Adobe cofounders John Warnock and Chuck Geschke accuses the company behind the iPhone, iPod and iPad of undermining "the next chapter of the web."
Adobe published the letter on its web site and began an advertising campaign. The Freedom of Choice ads say that, while Adobe loves Apple, the iPhone maker is "taking away your freedom." The ads are being placed in The New York Times, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, and The Wall Street Journal, as well as technology blogs and news sites including TopTechNews.com.
'Freely Access' Content and Apps
The Adobe cofounders wrote that "consumers should be able to freely access their favorite content and applications, regardless of what computer they have, what browser they like, or what device suits their needs." They added that no company, "no matter how big or how creative," should dictate the user experience.
"If the web fragments into closed systems," they wrote, some companies may thrive with content and applications behind walls, but the success will "come at the expense of the very creativity and innovation that has made the Internet a revolutionary force."
They added that, since they publish Flash specifications, anyone can make a player. The cofounders also pointed to Postscript and PDF, two Adobe cross-platform software solutions with openly published specifications. The letter and ads may not be Adobe's only attempts at pressuring Apple, as there are reports of a possible federal antitrust investigation in response to a complaint from Adobe.
The escalation follows a recent, lengthy open letter from Apple cofounder and CEO Steve Jobs, in which he attempted to explain why Adobe's nearly ubiquitous Flash technology is not allowed on Apple's mobile devices. Flash, he said, is a proprietary, "closed system," and Apple is interested in supporting open standards, like the emerging HTML5.
'A Bit of a Hypocrite'
"While Adobe's Flash products are widely available," Jobs wrote, "this does not mean they are open, since they are controlled entirely by Adobe and available only from Adobe." He has also criticized Flash's performance on mobile devices.
Adobe has been working to move Flash onto mobile devices, but Apple doesn't support the technology on its mobile devices. As part of its recently released Creative Suite 5, a massive package of its major products, Adobe included a tool for adapting Flash for the iPhone and iPad.
But at about the same time, Apple modified its software developers kit license so that it forbids cross-platform compilers, such as the Creative Suite tool. Adobe and many industry observers took this change as a direct shot at Flash.
Adobe's response was to announce that it was dropping plans to invest additional resources in maintaining the tool or in providing any other resources for using Flash on Apple's devices.
If Apple doesn't relent, the question is whether web sites will need to present their video and animation through HTML5, which is still being solidified, as well as in Flash, or just one or the other. Some analysts have suggested that getting HTML5 to the level of functionality and support that Flash has could take years.
He said "Apple is being a bit of a hypocrite" about saying it wants open standards, since "it clearly wants to control this platform end-to-end as much as possible."
Moving forward, Hilwa said he expects Google and its partners to emphasize that Android-based devices will run Flash. And, he said, the only things that probably could get Apple to change its mind would be pressure from the U.S. Department of Justice or from European regulators.
Posted: 2010-05-14 @ 1:39am PT
Apple have been removing 'features', and trying to give acceptable reasons all the time. This is just another step towards them squeezing more money out of end users. Apple's mobile products are a VERY closed system.
End users are not usually idiots. If I want to install a program on my device - which is able to run it, why should a company stop me from doing so? Its because they won't make cash off me from their apple-store that's why. Same with flash, if apple find a way to dip their fingers in and get some cash from it, you'd have flash on the i-products faster than you could say "Digital Rights Managment"
Posted: 2010-05-13 @ 9:29pm PT
Jobs has money and can say what he likes, true or not. Adobe wouldn't exist if George Lucas hadn't given them a pile of software to keep. Both of them are advertising via letters about some type of control they want or lack, and it's all about making people believe their opinions are factual. Jobs wants you to think he's right, Adobe wants you to believe in Flash, which they own. In the end, these letters and events will push consumers in some decisions at some point, it may be too early now but this is corporate advertising, plain and simple. ...oh and what Apple said may be libel/slander...what Adobe said is sour grapes...
Posted: 2010-05-13 @ 11:32am PT
The frequency of Flash crashing a variety of browsers on a wide range of computers indicates the inherent instability of the code. From my point of view, mandating that Apple allow Flash on the iPhone would be like mandating unprotected sex. It's never a good idea and worse when coerced.