Adobe says Apple could undermine the next chapter of the Web

Adobe says Apple could undermine the next chapter of the Web

Summary: 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?

SHARE:

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?

More:

Topics: CXO, Apple, Browser, Enterprise Software

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

21 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: Adobe says Apple could undermine the next chapter of the Web

    Duh, no, I don't buy Adobe's case. They're spending a lot on PR when they should be using the time and resources to improve their products.

    Time to stop; they aren't making sense anymore. I will start appreciating them only if they acquire enough business savvy to pull down the prices of their bloated products.
    mayadanteamihan
    • Adobe has a point Apple's closed approach is troublesome

      But it will only last as long as Steve is in command. Once he is gone no problems from there on. Though a lot of damage can be done in the mean time. Thank goodness for Android as an alternative to keep Apple in check.
      Uralbas
  • RE: Adobe says Apple could undermine the next chapter of the Web

    Adobe have a stranglehold in the market space that they compete in, but their products are NOT "best of breed"! I have learned to use 3rd party solutions as I am sick of the resource hogging, bloated and unsecured software that Adobe locks you into. And I became heartily sick of Adobe products constantly trying to sell me other Adobe products or constantly updating and using all my CPU cycles.

    Adobe are a closed system, just like most Web 1.0 companies, and the current protestations are nothing but a desperate campaign to keep their revenue streams from suffering.

    HTML5 is the answer going forward as well as other codecs that may come in the future.

    I thought competition was still allowed in America? Can't Apple use (or not use) whatever they want on their platform(s)? Isn't it up to Adobe to improve their product and innovate, or suffer a decline like a multitude of businesses have before them?

    WHY ARE ADOBE ALLOWED TO BE A PROTECTED SPECIES?
    Rayman56
  • Why does Apple need a protected game preserve?

    Rayman56, you wonder why Adobe should be protected, but its Apple seeking the protection. Adobe wants a choice. You've chosen not to use them. Adobe has no objection to that.

    But what about those who want to choose to use Adobe? Apple has blocked that choice, and quite arbitrarily as it clearly seeks to be anti-competitive.

    If Adobe's software is no good, Apple shouldn't have to do that because it would die of its own accord. OTOH, if Apple's position is weak, they will have to prop it up artificially.

    Thank goodness for Android indeed.

    Cheers,

    BW
    BobWarfield
    • RE: Adobe says Apple could undermine the next chapter of the Web

      @BobWarfield
      "IF" Flash is not good I've yet to see anyone defend Flash on the basis it is really good stuff only based on the fact that there is a lot of it out there period end of story. Most people who defend Flash admit it is blank.

      Now one of the key factors of Apple products especially the iPad is it's responsiveness. One of the major complaints about Flash is its a resource hog. Mix the two together and what suffers a HUGE factor in the iPads success to date I would image. Then there is battery life another common complaint against Flash. There their is the concept behind the iPad the it's users are not looking for a computer system or to be computer literate but rather simple users of an appliance that does what it is suppose to do with easy and speed. If you open it the iPad up to Flash and it starts doing what everyone seems to agree Flash does hog resources slowing the responsiveness of the iPad and damaging battery life the common claim is the user can always remove Flash right? Except that is counter the the whole point of the iPad that makes it a computer project not an appliance. Going through the process of adding Flash and a few flash games and video's only to find out that my iPad is slow and it's battery does not last as lone as it once did then going through the process of removing flash and the games and videos is something I would expect to do on a computer system a hobby device that I fully expect to tinker with from time to time. That is NOT the rational behind the iPad.

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
    • RE: Adobe says Apple could undermine the next chapter of the Web

      @BobWarfield : I find it amusing that Apple is somehow "seeking protection", when they're the ones stating that they're ditching Flash in favor of open standards.

      As James Quinn mentioned, nobody in their right mind is defending Flash as being efficient, or that it is excellent enough to be included based solely on merit (and before anyone says it, no, "the web uses it n' stuff" is not an argument on merits).
      Random_Walk
    • Open Platforms vs Open Markets

      @BobWarfield

      Lets make a clear distinction between open platforms and open markets. There is ample precedent that open platforms are in fact, capable of closing markets. Microsoft, the chief champion of open architecture is a actual monopolist on 2 continents. How do you resolve this paradox relative to your views?

      Regardless how counterintuitive it is to you , there needs to be some understanding that a closed platform, is in no way a defacto antitrust issue. Closed platforms require open markets to do business. They depend on them. It is a complete anathema for them to subvert the marketplace. Why? Very simply, because they don't bring their own tent.

      This will blow the minds of the PC faithful, but it is in fact the open platform that is most capable of shutting down an open market. Broad licensing need not be a problem in itself, but it clearly provides tremendous leverage over a broad, false, and essentially feudal psudo market that is big enough to "cover" the real marketplace. if the leverage is used, it is monopoly maintenance, and only this is the real illegal monopoly. Apple having some market share and being popular comes no where near this criteria.

      Yes Apple is closed and managed system. What they are not, is the least bit anticompetitive. Adobe wants to play in Apple's sandbox. It won't happen. it is Apple's prerogative. But Apple in no way prevents Adobe from making it's own sandbox.

      Microsoft's platform IS NOT a marketplace, neither is Apple's platform, or the app store, or anything else that might be broad and popular. They are tech platforms. Period. A market does not have a logo, or limited shareholders, or a corporate agenda. The sooner that everyone understands these fundamental distinctions, the better.

      The arc of your views inevitably deteriorates into the "too sexy" argument. Apple is just too sexy for the gullible consumer to resist. They are being duped into purchasing something outside their best interests. And who will rescue these pleebs? You? The DOJ?

      How about no on all counts. At no point will any lawyer who has any self respect, stand up in front of a court and say the open market, the very engine that drives our economy, has been made so weak by a single company that it has been subverted by "sexyness". Not through coercion or undue leverage, and not by erecting barriers to competition mind you?????? but by being too sexy! Good luck finding particular lawyer.

      There is a monopoly problem in tech. It is the lingering Microsoft monopoly that has "encouraged" companies to be "less technical" and allow MS to do that lifting for them. If there is a lack of real competition. Look here first.
      norgate
  • Apple relocating to AZ

    Sounds plausible. If you read the stories that some (illegal) developers are not allowed to be around Apple. Pretty narrow minded if you ask me.
    TxM2xTx
  • It IS funny that Adobe of all Companies, Talks about Open Markets . . .

    What a crock! There's nothing "open" about Adobe products except that they want to sell you their overpriced, buggy stuff that thousands of content-creators have gotten locked into. Adobe knows there are not enough ready alternatives so keep pumping out pricey paid updates while failing to fix their old products' bugs and the "free" stuff like Apple versions of Flash which has not been fixed since OS X was first launched now nearly 10 years ago.

    Jobs starts talking about Flash and voila!, Adobe finally issues a fix. If Adobe is so open why is all of their stuff completely closed and proprietary? Sure, PDFs are a standard, but it's their standard, not the web's and if you want to produce PDF content you have to pay Adobe dearly for the right to do so.

    On the other hand Apple is just saying, "hey, your software doesn't really work on small devices" and adopts an open web standard, HTML 5, to replace Adobe's closed and proprietary and VERY resource intensive, vulnerable and battery-draining buggy Flash product.

    The only thing "open" about Adobe is their palm, raking in the dough.

    How hypocritical can you get?

    JoeL
    Atlanta, GA
    joeldm
    • Actually PDF is open

      Anybody can make a pdf creation tool without paying Adobe anything, so long as they adhere to the standard. There are many, many non-Adobe pdf creators.

      Flash is different. Notice that Adobe said anyone can make a Flash "Player". They did not mention a creator app.
      j.m.galvin
  • It's Adobe that want's to control the web with Proprietary Flash.

    Not Apple. This sounds like more spinning on their part.<br><br>Apple do not own HTML5 or H.264 so they have no stake in controlling anything unlike Adobe. Adobe owns Flash and selfishly want's to make sure <b>their</b> proprietary technology is the chosen/defacto standard for mobile devices going forward. The same way Google and Microsoft is fighting for mobile search dominance now. The mobile space <b>will</b> be a goldmine and companies like Adobe, Google, MS knows this. There's nothing wrong with them fighting for Flash to remain relevant, just don't spin it like Apple is the one that wants to control the web. Unless Apple develops their own proprietary Flash competitor, the argument is silly at best. If anything Apple is creating competition for consumers. <br><br>BTW: I thought Adobe was going to pack their belongings and run over to Android?
    dave95.
  • RE: Adobe says Apple could undermine the next chapter of the Web

    I agree with most of the comments in that Adobe really doesn't have a leg to stand on here and the dramatic pronouncements by Chuck and John make them look pretty silly.
    On the other hand, Apple really has put their foot in it by disallowing cross-platform tools for developers. That was a dumb move. As has been stated before - do not alienate your developers! It just isn't necessary - the market and/or the Apple AppStore approval process will determine if the cross-platform developed apps are crap or not.
    rossdav
    • RE: Adobe says Apple could undermine the next chapter of the Web

      @rossdav@...
      I don't think you understand. If Flash gets on the iPad it would destroy the user experience which is KEY to the iPads appeal. As has been stated time and again Flash is a resource hog heck even it's defenders admit that. The iPad is known for it's responsiveness mix the iPad with a resource hog and you get a less responsive system with less battery life.

      Allowing the "market" to decide this or the user to discover this would make the iPad a computer "project" rather than a simple.. easy to use... responsive application. It could easily mean that devices with the iPad approach might not exist for the mix would be all wrong a super responsive device can not exist in a FLASH filled world. It's much like a modern car engine. You don't put leaded gas in a tank marked unleaded. All Apple is doing is trying to keep the lead out:P

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
    • You miss the point re: x-platform tools

      @rossdav@... It doesn't [i]matter[/i] whether "the cross-platform developed apps are crap or not", it matters whether the cross-platform development tools are crap or not. They, by definition, offer Lowest Common Denominator support of the APIs. Apple doesn't want iPhone OS apps held hostage by Adobe, or anyone else's, support or lack thereof.

      The particularly galling thing about this to long-time Apple/Adobe watchers is that [i]everything[/i] we're seeing here is a direct result of choices Adobe made 10-7-5 years ago. Adobe weren't crying nearly as hard when [i]they[/i] had the dominant position of having several successful products that were driving demand. You didn't see Apple writing open letters in 2003 about the "Myths of Cocoa development" they just shut up and did their thing. Perhaps Adobe should follow suit.
      matthew_maurice
  • RE: Adobe says Apple could undermine the next chapter of the Web

    As much as I dislike Apple for their pricing, business model and approach to almost everything they take on, they've got a good point here. Flash is an outdated, mediocre program that does crappy on mobile devices and costs a lot of money for what it is. Given the lockdown mentality apple has particularly with the ipod/ipad, I can see why they'd want to discard it in favor of something that's free and works better.

    My not-fully-informed prediction: Adobe is on its way to being obsolete as the general public realizes that open source/open standard products perform the same way and don't cost them money. In the major battles in the open-source movement (OS, browser, etc) one very real reason proprietary systems haven't already been rendered obsolete in the home user base is that it costs time and effort to install and learn to use the open source product, while the preinstalled Windows/IE or MacOS/Safari doesn't appear to cost anything extra and is already a known entity. On the other hand, installing, maintaining and learning to use Adobe products cost the same time and effort that the open-source alternatives do, with the added kicker of a fairly high price tag.
    thirtyseven
  • Open??? really adobe??? how is Flash open??? compared to the HTML5

    Open???? which web open standard does Adobe contribute too again? Flash is a completely closed system??????

    worse, it isn??????t even a very good system, here is their latest and greatest product at work (or more accurately ...lack of work)??????. and why Steve Jobs said Adobe has had 2 years of Apple begging them for something that actually works on a mobile device?????? while they continued to delay... this below is why they kept delaying....

    innovation indeed?????? here is an example of Adobe??????s innovation??????. in Flash 10.1

    http://jeffcroft.com/blog/2010/may/08/android-flash-demo-flashcamp-seattle/
    honkj
  • Adobe hearts Apple's money - NOT Apple Mobile CUSTOMERS!

    Wow! Talk about being intentionally mis-leading and blowing an issue out of proportion!

    Is the freakin web threatened? NO!

    Is the issue REALLY Apple (HTML5) vs Adobe (Flash) on the web? NO!

    The real issue is MUCH smaller.

    Maybe Adobe/Flash is being threatened on all MOBILE devices? ????NO!

    Yeah, the REAL issue is even smaller: specifically Flash on iPhone & iPad! So not having Flash on Apple Mobile devices is threatening the web? Hahaha! Adobe is just flat ridiculous!

    I am not anti-Flash. ????Flash can be great for interactive content creation and delivery. ????But, there's also tons of Flash force-fed crap-ads, toy-games, and gratuitous-fluff. It is also NOT an open Internet standard! Does Adobe give Flash source to other developers the way Apple shared Webkit?

    I am rapidly becoming anti-Adobe - no more money from me!

    Sure Adobe loves Apple! They make a ton of money off Apple Customers! Adobe does NOT, however, love Apple MOBILE customers

    At least as far as Apple MOBILE is concerned, Adobe is mis-leading, noisy, and anti-customer.

    Apple is, however, nailing it - largely because they put more effort into the customer experience. ????What has Apple done for it's mobile customers recently? ????iPhone, iPad and a USEABLE mobile infrastructure. Re-defined Mobile Computing! NOW! ????TODAY! ????FOR THEIR CUSTOMERS! Works great - I am typing this on Pages, outside under a tree at a lakeside park, on my 3G iPad - FUN! Thanks Apple!

    I voluntarily give Apple money in exchange for well-thought-out, well-designed, quality products -AND- a killer mobile computing experience. ????Apple is a world-class American company, making world-class products, for MILLIONS and MILLIONS of satisfied CUSTOMERS.


    Adobe's treatment of Apple Mobile customers, in contrast? ????Adobe has had YEARS to develop tools for Apple mobile customers and have done next to nothing.

    Flash on the iPhone would be great except it does not work. ????Adobe has had YEARS to make a Flash "Lite" that works. ????YEARS! ????And they have not done it!

    ALSO, Apple MOBILE customers want(ed) more than Flash from Adobe! ????Where was Adobe during the last few YEARS of Apple mobile?

    Photoshop.com for the iPhone? ... ????Ideas for the iPad? ... ARE YOU KIDDING? ????Both are bad jokes on users who expect and deserve more from a competent, caring software developer.

    Where is Photoshop "Mobile"? ????... Illustrator "Mobile"? ????... Etc, Etc! ????There is a pattern here. ????Adobe simply does not seriously develop for mobile!

    Adobe does not care about their customers who live more-and-more in the mobile market. ????MANY other companies are QUIETLY making products that satisfy their customers (Apple, Autodesk, Stunt.) MANY, MANY others who care about customers (and who are taking advantage of Adobe's lack of action.) Many of those companies are taking over markets that Adobe would have owned by brand-recognition alone.

    Adobe should let their products do their talking.

    As a long-time Adobe customer: ????Adobe obviously does not give a rip about making mobile tools for their customers who are re-defining how mobile tech is being used.

    So ... which mobile garden do you want to play in TODAY? ????????BTW ... ????Adobe says they are developing HTML 5 tools! ????Apple is supporting HTML 5! ????Problem solved! And I can use resource-hungry tech like Flash on my non-mobile devices (APPLE included) that is good enough.

    Apple OR Adobe? Apple! not even really an issue!
    D2b
  • Oh, PLEASE!

    Adobe's QQ-ing is getting worse by the week. They must [i]really[/i] be terrified. Kinda sad, actually. If only they put as much effort into writing decent code, Flash 10.1 on Nexus One crashed twice in a demo at Flash Camp this week, as they did trying to spin themselves as the injured party.

    Adobe, here's a suggestion-stop whining and ship a good product. [b]Either prove your programmers aren't "lazy", or STFU![/b]
    matthew_maurice
  • It's not about Open Systems, it's about Innovation

    I talk about this extensively on my latest blog: NO APP FOR THAT! IS STEVE JOBS IS FAILING APPLE? http://wp.me/pBPqA-30
    BryantAvey
  • There are alternatives for Adobe.. focus on content developers..

    I agree with any hardware company that wants to protect it's usability. Many well stated arguments above agree Apple just like Microsoft and Adobe build their standards and should be allowed to restrict development or curate user experience for the benefit of its target audience. Since there are alternative platforms then Adobe and anyone else should focus their efforts on making their products work to the best of their respective markets. Forcing any company to "OPEN" their platform to alternative solutions runs the risk of limiting their user experience and stifling innovation for the company who originally provided the new platform. This is all moot because as all will agree their are alternatives. After years of paying large sums of money to Adobe and still having my Adobe software lockme out only to have to "CALL IN" to unlock my various Adobe applications I have no sympathy for any company let alone Adobe. Leave apple and microsoft alone and build the best experience possible. As long as there is alternatives for both users and developers then market forces will determine platforms of choice. Frankly there is enough room for all platforms android, windows and apple. Adobe stands to loose because media and content developers need to choose how their content will reach the most audience. If the delivery methods of Flash are so good then Adobe needs to make the case to them (content developers and media) not force hardware companies to lower their standards of innovation to accommodate legacy products. I find it offensive that Adobe uses the resources (money) I provide them by purchasing their products to scorn and pretend they are protecting the rights of us developers and content developers that NEED Adobe products. Adobe is slow to innovate. Adobe should use the money we pay them to improve their products and prove themselves indispensable. Adobe is relentlessly expensive. I could buy a laptop, iPad, and an iPhone all for the price of some of their software. I could buy an HD camcorder, access to internet and a laptop all for the price of some of their software. Who really needs Adobe since there is alternative content development software and alternative delivery and hardware platforms this case is closed. Why involve the ignorant government representatives to force my user experience because some large company stands to benefit or Not in this case. Government lobbing is a form of corruption and I am glad to support those companies that focus on user experience and quality products then involve government intervention. Apple should be commended for changing the Mobile platform for all. Phones are no longer hardware controlled but Software... thanks to Apple now Google, Microsoft and yes Adobe stand to benefit because of the disruptive innovations of Apple. Siding with Adobe on this one is like forcing Apple to use Intel or AMD chips in their mobile devices because they stand to loose money.
    jminafra