FT : Adobe Responds To Apple’s Flash Assault

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Adobe Systems is hitting back at Apple in the technology companies’ war over web video formats, with an advertising campaign and a letter from its founders.  Steve Jobs, Apple’s chief executive, has criticised Adobe’s Flash technology – a crucial tool for displaying video and interactive content – following the launch of his iPad tablet computer this year.  Flash has not been included on the iPad nor on Apple’s iPhone and iPod mobile devices.  A new run of print and online ads from Adobe seeks to emphasise its “openness” and explain the “truth about Flash”.  It cites figures that suggest three-quarters of web video is viewed using Flash.  While making Apple’s point loud and clear, the company’s stance has left much web video and interactive content on the web inaccessible to iPhone and iPad users.

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In an open letter published on Apple’s website last month, Mr Jobs damned Flash as a “closed and proprietary” system, controlled solely by Adobe, adding that “the mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards – all areas where Flash falls short”.  Adobe says that contrary to Mr Jobs’s claims, the software was originally developed for touch-screen tablets.  Its banner ads on websites such as Tech-crunch and Wired say it does not love any company that is “taking away your freedom”.  They link to an online letter from Adobe’s co-founders and chairmen, Chuck Geschke and John War-nock.  “As the founders of Adobe, we believe open markets are in the best interest of developers, content owners and consumers,” the letter says.  “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.”  After emphasising Adobe’s commitment to publishing the specifications behind its technologies, the letter concludes:  “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.”  The public spat has become one of the most closely watched dramas in Silicon Valley as two iconic companies argue over their visions of the future of the internet.  Apple is encouraging developers to use HTML5, a new computer language, instead of Adobe software, to develop applications for the fast-growing mobile web.  Last month, Apple said it would stop letting developers writing programmes for its devices use Adobe software.  This attracted the attention of US antitrust regulators, who are considering investigating whether Apple’s refusal to allow Flash on its iPhone platform is anti-competitive.

Reference : The Financial Times, Fri May 14th 2010

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