Leadership optimize

Adobe says Apple could undermine the next chapter of the Web

Adobe ramped up its public relations offensive on Apple with a series of ads.The message: Adobe loves Apple, but hates that it is dictating developer tools.Is Apple really walling off the Web?

This is a guest post from Larry Dignan, Editor in Chief of ZDNet, TechRepublic's sister site. You can follow Larry on his ZDNet blog Between the Lines (or subscribe to the RSS feed).

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Adobe ramped up its public relations offensive on Apple with a series of ads. The message: Adobe loves Apple, but hates that it is dictating developer tools.

As most of the tech world knows, Apple is anti-Flash. Adobe sees business risk ahead. And developers are caught in the crossfire. It's also possible that regulators will step into this mess at some point.

In the meantime, the two sides volley statements, open letters and PR offensives. In an open letter, Adobe founders Chuck Geschke and John Warnock write:

When markets are open, anyone with a great idea has a chance to drive innovation and find new customers. Adobe's business philosophy is based on a premise that, in an open market, the best products will win in the end - and the best way to compete is to create the best technology and innovate faster than your competitors.

That, certainly, was what we learned as we launched PostScript and PDF, two early and powerful software solutions that work across platforms. We openly published the specifications for both, thus inviting both use and competition. In the early days, PostScript attracted 72 clone makers, but we held onto our market leadership by out-innovating the pack. More recently, we've done the same thing with Adobe Flash technology. We publish the specifications for Flash - meaning anyone can make their own Flash player. Yet, Adobe Flash technology remains the market leader because of the constant creativity and technical innovation of our employees.

We believe that Apple, by taking the opposite approach, has taken a step that could undermine this next chapter of the web - the chapter in which mobile devices outnumber computers, any individual can be a publisher, and content is accessed anywhere and at any time.

In the end, we believe the question is really this: Who controls the World Wide Web? And we believe the answer is: nobody - and everybody, but certainly not a single company.

Add it up and Adobe is painting Apple as the closed system alternative and a threat to the Web-especially on the mobile front. Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch made a similar argument about Apple earlier this month. Do you buy Adobe's case?

31 comments
jypeterson
jypeterson

This isn't an issue of choice or open market. This is a plain and simple case of money and profit. Apple is going straight for one of Adobe's bread and butter products and Adobe is tryin to keep it as a relevant product. Like it or not, Apple can dictate what software it will allow on its mobile products. All Adobe can do is try to sway public opinion against Apple so that it allows flash on Apples mobile products. But in all seriousness and reality, that is just not going to happen.

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

Apple is what Microsoft was 5 years ago. Proprietary. They don't want Flash and any unapproved application on their systems for fear that people will blame them instead of the software developer for problems. People (mostly novices) blame Microsoft for Windows' slowness, malware and other problems, but is Microsoft to blame for sloppy programming of third party software and drivers?

Jaqui
Jaqui

since Adobe, like Apple, ignore my operating systems they have zero impact on my computing. [ remember, I'm the one that refuses to even install flash player, since video content is not important ]

bikingbill
bikingbill

Until Adobe admits it has problems with both security and its update process and takes steps to address these, I will find it hard to take anything else it says seriously.

helen.m.higgs
helen.m.higgs

I agree with Larry. Adobe is right. But how do you stop this juggernaut?

Ackros
Ackros

its an absolute disgrace from Apple, the cheek of them, lol... no really they have some nerve saying they wont allow any new app created using the new CS5, its an irrelevant stance there taking; since they are not the ones making the apps to begin with. Apple will get left behind at this rate, they really didnt think it tru the impact and ripple effect it will hav or has had.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

[i]"... they really didnt think it tru the impact and ripple effect it will hav or has had."[/i] And what effect is that? Apple's iPhone sales more than doubled last quarter, with only two models on the market. Apple's iPad sales have far surpassed any previous records, selling a million units in only three weeks, when the original iPhone, the prior standard for setting sales goals, took 74 days. Honestly, there is no ripple effect affecting Apple's sales. Apple is still setting the baselines that the others are trying to follow. Maybe Android's sales are higher, but Android is firing a shotgun while Apple fires a rifle. The shotgun makes more hits, but the rifle's range hits the target.

Daniel Breslauer
Daniel Breslauer

So I'll side with Adobe on this.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

I highly recommend you start looking into how to integrate them, rather than blocking them, or your job may be at risk.

QAonCall
QAonCall

But I disagree on the same principle that I defend MS in many instances. NO ONE IS REQUIRED TO BUY AN IPAD,IPHONE et al. If you do not like Apple's decision, show it with dollars. Don't develop on their 'stuff' and certainly do not buy it. Recommend against it, just as people have against MS for years. Apple has enjoyed the 'prodigal son' treatment for far too long. They are more the 'evil empire' today than MS ever was. MS competed on price points and flooding the market. Apple competes by creating monopolies in certain niche markets. The funny thing is, there is no real Apple virtualization and their terminal services requires a 1500 dollar 'terminal' and has little administration etc. This is the future for most. Further, since they do not have the administrative mechanisms to manage these spaces they are further behind. Their last refuge is the net. They can still hold that space. Eventually, they will be relegated to an entertainment medium, which is where they were headed when MS bailed them out years ago. MHO.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

[i]"MS competed on price points and flooding the market."[/i] MS got themselves grandfathered into the enterprise by tying itself to IBM's coattails and used unrestricted licensing to flood the market; nobody else had a chance at that point. However, Apple is making visible inroads into that market by proving its abilities. Considering Apple's installed base is between 3x and 4x that of just 5 years ago says that Apple's products have entered the public eye. What you call a $1500 'terminal' is a full computer with a core of pure UNIX under that GUI, one of the most ironclad, reliable OSes ever created. The administrative capabilities are there, but only if you understand UNIX. And yes, there is administrative software available that can fully manage a mixed OS X/Windows environment. Maybe you should go back to school and study the history of computing; it's a very interesting subject.

QAonCall
QAonCall

You wrote: "MS competed on price points and flooding the market." MS got themselves grandfathered into the enterprise by tying itself to IBM's coattails and used unrestricted licensing to flood the market; nobody else had a chance at that point. The statement basically validates that MS flooded the market and competed on price (underselling IBM and flooding the market with a cheaper alternative). Rewriting history for your purpose does not make it fact. I did not denigrate Apple, nor MS. I simply pointed out that at every turn today, Apple actions mirror completely what MS was accused of, by Apple. Your attack on me, or my knowledge, while humorous, was ad hominem, but did not dispute any piece of what I actually stated, since I did not dispute that Apples OS is based on Unix or any other piece of that. As to your other comments, you clearly did not read, or understand what the post addressed, which is the future of the workplace becoming virtualized or terminal service based with additional cloud services. Maybe take a moment to re-read the post and it may make more sense. Have a nice iDay.

bboyd
bboyd

I think your hitting the hammer on the head of the nail. "NO ONE IS REQUIRED TO BUY AN IPAD,IPHONE et al." and since Android based phones have overtaken them on iPhones maybe consumers (in general) have figured that out. In a way you could thank apple for forcing higher quality paradigms into those market segments. I'd like to see flash go away myself, but not at the expense of Apple Corp.'s vision.

nonseq
nonseq

Devices that are easy to use, uniform in software implementation, exciting, well made, with superior fit and finish, and the highest consumer satisfaction rating of all technology companies- that vision? What is wrong with that? More to the point, what is wrong with those who would deny a whole segment of consumers the products they love, trust, and are willing to spend their money for, even if more expensive? If you don't like Apple, don't buy Apple but please don't screw it up for me and scores of my colleagues, friends, and family who value Apple and rely on Apple's products. Why would you deny us for the sake of the lowest common denominator?

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

... than something running through middleware.

bboyd
bboyd

thats pretty much 50/50 Plus I end up writing much of my low end level stuff. KISS principle leads to drastic reduction in headaches.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

Since you are in Hardware Design and Engineering, tell me, which works better on your hardware, the software you design it for, or software running in an unauthorized third-party environment that brings your hardware down to the level of a commodity?

nonseq
nonseq

Apple designed, invested in, built, and spec'd the OS. Those specs do not include Flash which, despite the protestations in here is a resource hog and unstable and a security nightmare. More than that, Apple has decided that they want native apps on their device running on their OS. That's their right to offer the products of their vision and standards to the public. It is not your right to try to force them to include CRAP on their device just because you want it. I stand behind the position that on mobile devices Flash is CRAP or as provided by Adobe, NON-EXISTENT (when you can show a distribution Adobe flash product for mobile devices you might have some credibility but even then Flash does not rise to the Apple spec) Why should you be able to hijack, commandeer, kidnap Apple's product because your vision doesn't match yours. And the argument that once you buy the device you should be able to put anything you want on it is flummery. You already can do that by jailbreaking it, so what's your bitch? None of this is really about choice. It's about wanting to reduce development to the lowest common denominator and forcing mediocrity on others. Here are your choices. 1) Jailbreak and put anything you want on the device. 2) Don't buy Apple and get another device, which should not be too hard with Android's burgeoning growth. 3) Buy Apple and accept and honor the licensing agreement to which you agreed when you bought the device, Apple is not a tyrant. Apple is strict, demanding, and protective of their investment. If they turn you and the handful of developers and technocrats off, they are willing to do so. Without Apple's "tyranny" I won't buy their products. I already suffer enough with the include everybody with no standards PC/Windows world. You may like it because you are technically inclined. I don't need the lowest common denominator because I have actual work to do and down time is money and windows has already cost me more than enough in down time.

bboyd
bboyd

Don't support the policies of a company who wants to screw it up for others who do like flash. "What is wrong with that?" Just the good marketing sense of Apple not part of my view Denying apples consumers rights to use apple products? Neither my comment or desires suggest that. I'm saying apple should not be such a tyrannical master(kinder words used) to anyone not willing to jump in the bandwagon with them. And to not be that same tyrannical master to its developers and consumers who make their consumer products successful.

Slayer_
Slayer_

I don't really like anything of Adobe's BUT in principle, I must side with them.

computerking
computerking

First off, Adobe is right on this one. Apple is not allowing flash on their mobile platform which is unfair business.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Exactly what is unfair about it? What obligates Apple to allow Flash, Silverlight, or any other browser technology on the equipment they sell? This is no different from CD distributors complaining about car models that come with iPod connectivity but no CD players. It's the manufacturer's choice what to include. It's Apple's decision how they build their products. If the marketplace sees the lack of Flash as outweighing the perceived benefits of Apple's products, consumers will buy something else. Nothing unfair about any of it.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

I'm agreeing with you here and offering a simile that falls within the same concept. Ford decided to incorporate an onboard computing paradigm by Microsoft, called Sync. Now, in my personal opinion, I think Ford made a huge mistake by limiting themselves to Microsoft, just as so many people thing Apple has made a huge mistake by limiting themselves to H.264 and HTML5. As a result, I will not be buying any more Ford products. But wait! I've never purchased a Ford product! Why? Well, to be blunt, every Ford product I've ever had contact with or owned (given as a gift) has been unreliable, expensive and overall unacceptable for my purposes without major modification. I read all the time how people love their Fords, yet turn around and find that the sports car an associate purchased has been buggy from the time they bought it new, the luxury sedan intended to tow a travel trailer didn't have enough power to even maintain speed on a grade without a trailer, the one I personally drove cost me half my paycheck on a regular basis with constant breakdowns, and even after replacing the engine with another, started throwing belts and continued to eat half my paycheck regularly. I traded for something other than a Ford, and was suddenly able to start saving money--even with the car payment. To me, the simile stands as an example of computers in general and the concept of 'unfair business.' Why should Ford be forced to be software-agnostic in their cars? Why should Apple be forced to be software-agnostic in their mobile OS? If you don't like what you see, go somewhere else. Ford's not being unfair; Apple's not being unfair. The people being unfair are the ones who want to force the company to do something it doesn't want to do. Let your money decide the issue. Buy Ford, don't buy Ford. Buy Apple, don't buy Apple. It's that simple.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

... if Apple chooses not to permit certain software on its devices? Are they preventing Adobe from offering its software to anyone else? Are they preventing Adobe from offering other software on its devices? No, Apple is right, here. Flash has been nothing but a buggy resource hog almost since Adobe bought Macromedia and they made their first update. And I don't care what platform you're talking about when I say that--it's bad on all of them!

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

Browsers & Media Players... and then investigate the fall out today. You don't know much do you? What are your IT / Computing credentials?

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

You are right that the computing market is changing rapidly--too rapidly for some vendors. Apple basically lost the video animation paradigm about 10 years ago, when Quicktime was a standard. WMV essentially parroted Quicktime, up to and including a direct copy of some Quicktime code for a short time. Macromedia, with Shockwave and Flash, seemed to fade in and out as a suitable substitute, though admittedly it's had problems more than once over the years. It looks like h.264 may be the short-term future, but again, maybe not. And this is just talking about one aspect. Computing itself has changed a lot over the years; what we see now is significantly different from what we saw 10 years ago and was hardly imaginable (except in Science Fiction) 30 years ago. Even Microsoft's Bill Gates knew that computing would change and tried to help direct that change over the years--but unfortunately failed the execution, if not the concept. Apple's current concept is becoming the rage--for now. Nearly every manufacturer is trying to copy Apple's style simply because Apple made Microsoft's concept [i]WORK.[/i] In the last ten years, true tablet computing has been a dream for Microsoft but they continued repeatedly to fail because they tried to make a desktop OS perform as a mobile OS, and even the Windows Mobile concept was nothing but a stripped-down desktop OS that was essentially too much 'power' for too-small device. It worked, but by most comments I've read only worked well when it got stripped down even more into single-purpose devices. The moment you tried to add another feature, it became unstable again. So, Ok, for now a mobile OS seems to be taking command of the hearts and minds of both the average consumer and the enterprise--what does this mean for the future? Well, HP seems to have an idea. Since they already have a massive presence in the enterprise and in the home, by purchasing a mobile OS of their own, they may look into expanding that OS into a touch-based desktop platform that almost eliminates the need for separate keyboard, mouse and display. In one fell swoop, they could expand this to where the computer is an integral part of a user's desk, able to upgrade the components at need, but giving the user a true 'working surface' that could be more efficient that Microsoft's current concept and less expensive as well. This concept could also blow away the relatively limited capabilities we now see in the iPad. Of course, this assumes Apple chooses to sit on its laurels and leave things alone. This is not something Apple is noted for. Technology will continue to change. The desktop as we know it is almost guaranteed to die in the near future. Whether that's 5 years, 10 years or 20 years we'll just have to wait and see, but by then even the iPad will be ancient technology and replaced by something even more capable. Maybe, by then, the computer will be in our own brains, projecting its images directly into our visual cortex without the need for external displays. Then again, the world might not exist at all, or technology itself may no longer exist. The future is something to aim at, but not something we can really control.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

And it isn't an 'Apple vs. Adobe' issue either. It's a business issue. Say I open an ice cream shop, with dozens of new flavors. However, I sell my ice cream only in bowls, not cones. If you bring in a cone, I won't put my ice cream in it. Cones leak, they get my customers' clothes and hands messy, they're another perishable good I have to keep up with, and I think my ice cream tastes better without the flavors the cone adds. What matters more to my customers, my flavors of ice cream or the cones? That's their decision to make. Depending on what they decide, I'll either make money or have a new mistake to learn from. If I'm successful and cone bakers start going under, that's not my problem. Don't give me that 'protecting the future of computing' bullstuff. Someone will open the garage door one day and roll out a goodie that will make handheld mobile devices obsolete; Apple will start screaming just as loudly as Adobe has been. This field is changing so quickly it's almost impossible to tell what new trends will appear, despite what Gartner may tell you. Technologies change, some become obsolete; Flash may be one of them. (And don't hand me anything about being able to take ice cream home and put it in your own cones, can't install Flash even if you wanted, etc. It's an analogy; work with me.)

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

You don't have a 'Need to Know.' However, it appears that I know quite a bit more than you about the issue, since you refer to an event that is in no way similar to the current issue. However, what Apple says about Flash itself is demonstrably true with any platform (I know because I have to put up with it in multiple platforms daily.) Secondly, Adobe has no concept of what the next level of computing is. Expecting the technology to remain essentially unchanged except for using Flash as the predominant cross-platform reference is hardly the 'next level.' Apple has introduced the next level and almost every OS developer in the world is scrambling to match the concepts, if not the exact style. This doesn't mean that desktop computing will go away, but expect significant changes over the next few years as Apple does what Microsoft was incapable of doing ten years ago--move people onto truly mobile devices. Future computing is going to be touch based, and no version of Flash is truly touch-compliant. To try and pretend that touch is merely a mouse click alone breaks the majority of Flash's usability as an animation platform, since so many Flash sites rely on 'rollovers' to trigger animations and you don't 'roll over' when you touch the screen. In other words, Flash is obsolete and needs to advance with the technology, rather than trying to force 2-, 3- or even 4-year-old coding to work on all-new devices. Apple has given Adobe almost 3 years to make Flash work on the iPhone OS, and all they could claim was that Apple was blocking them. Now that Apple [b]is[/b] blocking them, all they can do is whine and cry 'foul!'

nonseq
nonseq

that Adobe never assimilated very well. Flash would have been much much better had Adobe not acquired Macromedia. BTW while everyone is castigating Apple for not allowing Flash and apps made using Flash on the iPhone OS, why have they not gotten on Adobe's case for failing to produce a product that runs on any mobile device (I mean a product out of alpha testing, let alone beta, and that actually runs in the wild)? Even the alleged Android product is not ready for prime time and it's like flash-lite and only does a fraction of what the full flash does. What is the real motivation here?

siangperng
siangperng

Having the same discussing with a friend on this topic and basically, we think: Apple hates Flash because Flash applications can bypass their AppStore *GASP*. Instead of buying a totally useless piece of eye-candy or time killing mini game from the AppStore, you might simply find them free on the web running off Flash. What does that mean? Steve loses potential profit!! OMG!!! Oh and there are many many terrible flash products out there that does not meet the divine standards of Apple, products. Those products will contaminate the otherwise "perfect" iPad!! OMG!! OMG!!! Steve will be angry!!! With or without HTML5, Apple will not tolerate something that hurts their purse and their "perfect" creation. If you fail to understand all this, here is what Apple has to say: "Once in a while, you will encounter something that is totally beyond your ability to understand, and that something, just becomes... sort of magical" And finally Adobe, put more resources into making the flash plugins for *NIX system already!! The same youtube movie always take more resources when played on linux than windows!!

vdesilva
vdesilva

Apple is saying use HTML 5.0 Apple is a business like Adobe and they can make business decisions just like Adobe makes with respect to its many products the we are obliged to use. Microsoft does not package codecs with its OS we users have to scurry around finding out which ones to use and often running up against free codecs that crash !!! or buy the super fast professional products that do work in real-time at a fraction of the CPU resources used by the free ones. Lets get out of trying to understand why Apple, Adobe, Microsoft et al make their particular business decisions and start promoting envelope standards like HTML 5.0 and then the buying public can decide on its own measure of needs what they want to purchase and at what price