Adobe vs. Apple: Who’s Right… Who’s Wrong

This morning God Steve Jobs posted an open letter about why Adobe Flash is not right for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. He basically says that it’s a relic, buggy, crash prone, insecure and not the future. I’d read the full text of his letter to get the gist of his arguments. Adobe’s CEO Shantanu Narayen didn’t waste any time in firing back at Jobs by saying that Jobs points in his letter are a “smokescreen,” Flash is an “open specification,” and suggested that any Flash-related crashes on OS X have more to do with Apple’s operating system than Adobe’s software. This is the latest in an ongoing battle between Adobe who wants to put flash on God’s Steve Jobs iDevices and how Jobs will do anything to keep them off his lovely iDevices.

So who’s right about this? It depends. Here’s my take:

  1. Flash is unstable. It crashes on Mac OS X and Windows. It’s so crash prone that the next version of Firefox (which if you’re really brave you can preview right now) will have code to try and contain crashes to the browser rather than have a Flash crash spread to the OS. Maybe Adobe should do something about that.
  2. Jobs points out that Flash is insecure highlighting the fact that Symantec backs him up on this point. However, I’ll point out that Flash runs on LINUX and the security issues that exist on Windows and OS X don’t appear to exist on LINUX. That to me sounds like an OS issue and not a Flash issue. Perhaps Microsoft and Apple might want to do something about that. Having said that, there are a ton of exploits floating around that use Flash as a gateway. Perhaps Adobe might want to do something about that.
  3. Jobs points out that open standards such as HTML5 and SVG vector graphics are the way to go. True. Ultimately, moving to truly open standards that are cross platform is the way of the future. But, Flash is everywhere right now. People know how to code for it and it would be foolish to simply ignore it because God Steve Jobs says so.
  4. Jobs writes in his letter “It is not Adobe’s goal to help developers write the best iPhone, iPod and iPad apps. It is their goal to help developers write cross platform apps. And Adobe has been painfully slow to adopt enhancements to Apple’s platforms.” I think that translates to “Adobe pisses us off because they won’t support us and us alone.” I guess that’s why they changed the terms and conditions of the iPhone SDK to keep anybody who writes apps with something other than Apple tools (read: Adobe) off their phones and tablets.
  5. Adobe Flash is a CPU and battery hog says God Steve Jobs. True. Flash heavy pages send the CPU usage of my Mac or my wife’s PC through the roof. That has to affect battery life at some point. Now to be fair, Adobe is working on hardware acceleration to make Flash more CPU friendly, but you if you take a look at at video on and HTML5 webpage and see how low the CPU usage is, their hardware acceleration would have to be damm good to compete with that.
  6. Neither company is a paragon of being open despite what they both say. I guess if you want open, you’d have to go for Android. But then you’d get porn according to God Steve Jobs, and it’s his “moral responsibility” to keep you from seeing porn on any of his iDevices.

Both sides have their issues and nobody is the clear winner of this little pissing contest (although I have to admit that I am leaning towards Adobe at the moment). If Apple and Adobe were smart, they’d go back to the days where they worked closely together to produce really good software for their users rather than try to slag each other in the media. This little spat doesn’t help users and as a result nobody wins. Not Apple. Not Adobe. Not end users.

A pox on both their houses.

3 Responses to “Adobe vs. Apple: Who’s Right… Who’s Wrong”

  1. Few complained when Apple left Flash off iPhone. The furor now comes because it’s also off iPad, and iPad is too much like a real commuter. Adobe is terrified that that will become a trend and newer, lighter laptops and tablets will leave off Flash. So what if Flash is used a lot today? It won’t be tomorrow. Flash is dead. It is the floppy disk. Apple is moving on and Adobe is whining about losing their cash cow. They need to just accept the inevitable and move on to the next big thing.

  2. Take a look at today’s Jpy of Tech comic:

    http://www.geekculture.com/joyoftech/index.html

  3. […] Steve Jobs is declaring victory when it comes to killing Adobe Flash. The news is out that the once popular, but now exploit ridden browser plug in will be dead by […]

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