Adobe: Apple's anti-Flash movement a risk to business

Apple has made Adobe's list of potential risks to its business because it won't use Flash in the iPhone or iPad.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Apple has made Adobe's list of potential risks to its business because it won't use Flash in the iPhone or iPad.

In its quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Adobe said (emphasis mine):

We offer our desktop application-based products primarily on Windows and Macintosh platforms. We generally offer our server-based products on the Linux platform as well as the Windows and UNIX platforms. To the extent that there is a slowdown of customer purchases of personal computers on either the Windows or Macintosh platform or in general, to the extent that we have difficulty transitioning product or version releases to new Windows and Macintosh operating systems, or to the extent that significant demand arises for our products or competitive products on other platforms before we choose and  are able to offer our products on these platforms our business could be harmed. Additionally, to the extent new releases of operating systems or other third-party products, platforms or devices, such as the Apple iPhone or iPad, make it more difficult for our products to perform, and our customers are persuaded to use alternative technologies, our business could be harmed.

Adobe's disclosure comes as Apple's developer agreement for iPhone OS 4.0 forbids connectors to Flash. There are a few things to note about that passage. For starters, Apple wasn't listed as a risk factor in Adobe's annual report. In fact, Adobe played down the risk of HTML5 as a Flash rival. From the annual report in January:

Version 5 of the Web markup language HTML (“HTML5”) is being developed by an industry consortium that includes Adobe and leading browser manufacturers such as Apple, Google and Microsoft.  HTML5 will contain new features which will compete with some of the features of Flash Player, such as the ability to play video natively within the browser.  We will work to implement support for HTML5 in our Web authoring solutions.  Yet, we believe the competing interests of the browser developers, and the potential for inconsistency in how each major browser implements HTML5 will create a continuing demand for solutions such as Flash that provide a consistent presentation capability that works across browsers, operating systems and devices.

Here's what Adobe said about Apple in its annual report:

With respect to the Apple iPhone, although our desire is to work closely with Apple to deliver Adobe Flash Platform technologies on their device similar to our approach with other mobile vendors, we are prohibited from making advancements towards this goal until we have Apple’s cooperation to do so.

The conclusion: Apple's decision to keep Flash off the iPad was a manageable threat to the business. Now that Apple has launched the iPad, the threat to Flash isn't as contained.

More on the iPhone 4.0 launch:

And the Adobe-Apple flap:

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