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Can’t We All Just Get Along (Apple vs Adobe)

Yesterday Apple announced their iPhone OS 4 preview along with a modified developer licensing agreement that looks like it does not allow developers to create applications using anything other than Apple’s official development tools. This causes a major headache for Adobe since they have already been demoing Flash CS5’s ability to export applications directly to the iPhone. Yesterday’s announcement by Apple may render all of their effort moot.

Today Adobe responded. Here is a quote from the Business Week Article:

“Adobe’s goal has been to make it so people can create content once and it can be delivered across all platforms — that’s the pitch and Apple is trying to derail that effort,” said Patrick Walravens, an analyst at JMP Securities in San Francisco, who rates Adobe ‘market outperform’. “There’s a lot of noise around this issue and it’s significant for Adobe.”

Since InDesign has become more intertwined with Flash lately, this may affect InDesign’s future as well. Hopefully this does not become an all out war between the two companies since the customers (us) may ultimately lose. Regardless of what happens, Monday should be an interesting day since Adobe will be announcing CS5.

James Fritz
James graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee in 2003. After a short stint designing catalogs he started working as a freelance designer for C2 Graphics Productivity Solutions. Soon he was promoted to a full time instructor/designer and subsequently become an Adobe Certified Instructor Design Master. Currently James is the Director of Content, Creative at where he is also an author.
James Fritz

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33 Comments on “Can’t We All Just Get Along (Apple vs Adobe)

  1. I have a feeling that Apple’s blocking of Flash is related to their plans for that iAd advertising platform. They want to deliver interactive ads into apps via their own HTML 5-based platform. Flash would allow interactive ads to be created with similarinteractive functionality but on a competing platform, thus circumventing their iAd thing, thus making less money for them.

    The announcement is quite unfortunate, especially considering the expanded Flash animation and exporting capabilities everyone is expecing in InDesign CS5. My guess is that standalone Flash Apps was the way Adobe planned to bring magazine content to the iPad. So essentially we’re stuck with rather static PDF files for now.
    A lot of what I suspect to be new features in CS5 is going to be a lot less useful now, I’m sure a few people at Adobe are really pissed off, not only on the Flash team ?

  2. “My guess is that standalone Flash Apps was the way Adobe planned to bring magazine content to the iPad. So essentially we?re stuck with rather static PDF files for now.”

    Obviously, Apple’s response is that there’s always HTML5 and Objective C. Which does nothing for re-purposing print design, which is also – and again obvious, if you were following Apple’s advice of only making things for the iPhone all the time, and only their way – useless and never should have been made in the first place.


    Whatever happened to interactive QuickTime, by the way?

  3. I have no love for Adobe either. Leaving Mac users without Premiere for what, two years and Acrobat always lacking features in the Mac version the Windows version has.

    And as far as Flash is concerned, it really is not that important. Most users won’t miss it and I sure don’t get work based on demand from clients and employers for it. Adobe got into bed with that devil Microsoft to make Flash the de facto multimedia web plug-in standard and now they are getting burned. But boy, the Adobe evangelists are really howling about it like their lives depend upon it. The world is moving on, and so should Adobe by delivering to us an HTML5 design tool.

  4. Here we are, playing tit for tat: S.Jobs was pissed off when Adobe did not deliver 64bit CS4, when they did not offer After Effects for the Mac and all that stuff. And he does not seem like a man you can do that to – as seen in the PPC to Intel switch.
    He does not go for compromises, he wants the whole cake: control over the platform and everything related to it. As long as Adobe plays his game, he’s OK — but they didn’t in the past. Now he is retaliating. And he stands squarely between the contents and the consumer. He trips you when he thinks you want to sneak past him.
    In my opinion, there are only two things Adobe can do: wait for his passing away or quickly get some converter going that gets everything into HTML5 or whatever they accept…
    Or ignore the iPad business. Mankind has done for the most part of its history.

  5. I think the best word to describe this is “unfortunate.” Apple certainly is entitled to do business the way they see fit, but I find it hard to believe that the timing of this announcement was an accident.

    With CS5 due out next week, Apple is taking a swipe a company that is very much a reason for Apple’s success. Without the graphics applications built by Adobe, it’s difficult to envision Apple as anything but a very tiny niche company.

    But nobody bats 1.000. At some point Apple is going to make a bad decision that’s going to bite them. Whether this is it or not, only time will tell.

    If nothing else, this should be interesting to watch and see what happens when two 600 pound gorillas go at it.

  6. Throwing a punch legally is different from throwing a technical one: whenever Flash is ready to conform to Apples (or Jobs’s) standards, they can just change the SLA text instead of reengineering the iPhone OS.

  7. I think Adobe is getting caught in the cross-fire of of two very large rivals mobile tech, Apple and Google, blasting away at each other. Adobe partnered with Google and Apple is retaliating.

    I think it’s also very personal. The success of Apple’s mobiles and their stores have made it the 3rd largest company in the US. If the iPad’s another hit, Apple will be bigger than Microsoft. Do you think that’ll be a meaningful day in the life of Steven P. Jobs? Anything that’s a threat to his complete control of the iPhone/iPod/iPad ecosystem will be squarely in Steve’s cross-hairs.

  8. Man, I’m sorry to hate Apple. They make some great products, but their policies baffle me sometimes. And, I agree with the above, the world does not run solely on iProducts. Actually, I’m kinda sick of the iEverything. Reminds me of the Beatles song iMeMine.

  9. Guess what application Apple uses for the manuals and the printed ads: Adobes software. To make it clear: this is not a point of do or die for either company. It is a bad coincidence that Adobe has been driving the Flash path all the way, knowing that Apple won’t ever let it on their devices. Now just as they follow their own partners and visions, so does Apple. And sometimes both meet on the same narrow path — and one just has to step aside.
    For Apple, the iPad ecosystem is very important, for Adobe, it is just another platform. Adobe just missed the ball with one hyped device. They should just focus on the major applications and get them going.
    Make peoples life easier to deliver contents. The devices will follow.

  10. So, Apple tell us that, whatever we will pay for there product, we can’t do what we want we it…on it’s all right?
    And what? All the people who make flash animation, they must what? Learn html5 to do the animation? Come on, that must be a joke.

  11. Oh no, does it mean we PC users will have to put up with more moaning from apple users? It used to be about how cool a mac was, now it will be about why PCs can do more than a mac!!!!!!!!!!!

    Yes there is a god!

  12. I’m not convinced that a bit of disagreement is “unfortunate” at all. When people disagree, they have to dig deep for reasons for their own position, if only to defend it against the opposed position.I imagine something similar applies to large corporations.

    I had never heard of “HTML5” till I heard that the iPad wouldn’t support Flash. Suddenly I’m interested, and I’ll bet a lot of other people are too.

    Disagreement is the lifeblood of science, and it probably does quite a bit of good in many other areas too.

  13. Jeremy, I think it’s unfortunate because it’s there’s a lot of people being put in the middle here. There’s a lot of Flash developers that are getting kicked in the teeth.

    It’s the old story. Two elephants fighting and only the grass gets hurt.

  14. I can see a very good reason for the move by Apple. If Flash development took over HTML5 as the preferred development, which is very possible given Adobe’s dominance in DTP and Design software, then they have to rely on Adobe to implement new technologies and optimize for their system. Adobe has been slow to do so with the Mac for the past 10 years, and with their cross platform focus that may not change with the iPhone OS.

    It is possible that if Apple let them in that Adobe could damage Apple’s position with the iPhone/iPad by focusing their efforts more on Android and Windows 7 Phone OS. It is in Apple’s best interest to try to keep the focus on technologies and standards that they can optimize the OS for and not rely on another company to do so when and if they wanted.

    A good example of this is comparing Flash and Javascript where the Flash plugin still is not up to par on the Mac as it is on Windows while Apple is regularly updating their javascript engine to push the performance.

  15. Or ignore the iPad business. Mankind has done for the most part of its history.

    Well, the internet has existed for only a small portion of mankind’s history, should we ignore it, also? ;-)

    I think it would be a shame if squabbles over iPhone OS access get in the way of either company solidly supporting each other’s OS X-related business. I consider myself an OS X user before an Apple user.

  16. The reason Apple isn’t allowing Flash on their hardware is just so they can force apps to be sold through their store. If anyone could just sell an app built in flash on their website, or a use a flash app in a browser then the Apple store would lose that revenue. That is the end of the story.

    They are just protecting the gilded nest of the golden goose.

    Apple and Adobe have been at odds for ever it seems, Apple comes out with Final Cut Pro to compete with Premiere, Then Aperture came out then Lightroom. Logic vs. Audition.

    I say too bad for Apple, Adobe c’mon over the PC side, we have cookies! Google and Android and even MS and Win7 phones will make a fine platform for Flash. I’m with Adobe, Apple can go $#*&% themselves.

  17. Nobody’s served by a “go #[](% yourself” strategy.

    Adobe will keep prying at Apple and Apple will keep trying to muscle Adobe out, or Adobe will adapt to HTML5 and Apple will have to figure out how to block what they’ve been incessantly promoting – the Web and HTML5 offline apps as an open-platform alternative to native code.

    See 3.3.1’s less-reviled but very important new provision requiring JavaScript to work with iPhone’s WebKit – a nice out in case Flash CS5.5 outputs to HTML5. Oh really? Well WebKit suddenly finds (insert JS function Adobe relies on here) insecure and Apple cuts it from WebKit – and your apps are now violating the dev agreement, so Apple can revoke your native-code privileges too. NYAH.

    This is kindergarten crap waiting for someone to pull a grown-up move and elevate above it. Apple’s shown they won’t so long as Jobs and/or his disciples are running the show.

  18. Has Apple heard of the European Union (EU)?
    When Microsoft tried to restrict users to Internet Explorer it cost them $ x hundreds of millions and to open the door to competitors including Safari. Attempts to restrict and manipulate the marketplace such as this are similarly doomed.
    Either Apple is planning to remove the iPhone & iPad from sale in the EU (and in countries where the EU’s decisions carry weight including Australia, Japan, Singapore, China etc…) or this will end in great big tears at Apple.

  19. i think a lot of people are confused about what this is about.

    this isn’t specifically about allowing flash directly on the iphone/ipad. it’s not about flash vs HTML5 either.

    it’s about not allowing flash content to be compiled into an iphone/ipad application which could then be loaded on an iphone/ipad.

    it would no longer be flash at that point, it would be an application that had been developed in flash instead of apple’s development environment.

  20. @Greg,

    I understand that, and if you look at recent history and the timing of these two developments then I think it backs up Apple’s decision. Think about it, Apple releases the new OS with support for multi-tasking. Adobe has a product ready to go that ties in with their other product suite and makes it easier for non-programers and Flash developers to create applications. However, Adobe doesn’t have multi-tasking built in to the iPhone export feature in CS5 and decides that they will wait for the CS6 to implement it, but they do have that support for Android and Windows 7 Phone. That means that right out of the starting gate the Adobe product is creating “crippled” applications that will run better on the other platforms than they do on Apple’s. From the average users perspective this will be a deficiency in Apple’s product, not Adobe’s, and will damage the iPhone/iPad brand not the Flash brand or Adobe’s reputation as a company.

    Apple’s decision while it might be controlling really is in the best interest of the developers who don’t have to wait for Adobe to decide to implement new features in the iPhone OS so that they can take advantage of them, as well as the user since the newer applications will be more likely to take advantage of the new OS features when they are available to the developers when Apple releases a new OS and SDK.

  21. @Ian,

    Microsoft’s actions were directly effecting the competition in the browser “Wars” and most say was responsible for the demise of what was the main competitor at the time, Netscape.

    Apple’s actions will not diminish the sales of Flash nor directly diminish it’s importance to the internet today.

    Apple probably has more to worry about, as far as anti-trust cases, with their App Store being the only retail channel for iPhone/iPad applications. The policy and control over the sale of software for their devices is anti-competitive since it basically locks out all other retail avenues to purchase software for the platform eliminating any and all competition. However, at this time they probably don’t have a case since Apple’s market share of smart phones is small enough that they could make an argument that there are other platforms available which directly compete with the iPhone and the developers are free to develop the same applications for those platforms and sell them through another retail chain. But if the iPhone gets 60% of more of the smartphone market then they would probably be forced to open the platform up to competing retailers.

  22. “Hopefully this does not become an all out war between the two companies since the customers (us) may ultimately lose.”

    You’ve got to me kidding me?! This is the greatest thing to ever happen to customers! Adobe has essentially become a monopoly over the past few years. With all the buy outs they have been doing there is no longer any direct competition. This has meant that Adobe can release buggy software at a premium and we have to fork the money over.

    I can’t believe how support for “Spaces” still isn’t working in CS4 even though it has been released about 3 years ago. Everyone else supports it. Even small companies that no one has heard of. Same with “Quick Look” they don’t support it every one else does. Bugs like this should have been fixed a couple months after the software was released but we have ended up waiting years on end due to Adobe’s monopoly position.

  23. Would Apple even exist without Adobe? You’d think Apple wouldn’t alienate Adobe when so many of its users are graphic designers (using Adobe…). Ugh. I’m sick of all the i-stuff too. ugh ugh ugh.

  24. Phyllis,

    I’m sick of the iStuff as well, and while I agree they should be working together. But if you look at how things have progressed over the past decade it was Adobe that put Apple development on the back burner in favor of Windows starting with the move to OS X. Apple has moved on, and while their traditional core business has been the graphics industry they have moved far beyond that with the entertainment appliances. Right now Apple does not need Adobe for this market, it is Adobe that needs Apple for it since Apple is setting the standard. This may change, and it has in the past which is why most designers are using InDesign instead of Quark today.

  25. Bob Levine, 4/11 at 6:28 pm:
    Jeremy, I think it?s unfortunate because…there?s a lot of people being put in the middle here. There?s a lot of Flash developers that are getting kicked in the teeth.

    Bob, did you fret over all the typesetters and typography companies that took it in the rear when the industry switched over to DTP, as we used to call it back then? Our business was turned on its ears, with thousands of dollars invested in proprietary typesetting equipment, and we had no say in it.

    It’s called progress. We had to learn how to set type and compose pages in PageMaker. Flash developers need to learn HTML5. By the time they retire, HTML5 will probably be history and most likely another form or two of software will be the standard

    Happy motoring!

  26. For years, the media, most Apple lovers and the government have enjoyed ranting about and going after Gates/Microsoft for its attempt to control all things. Why does that same scrutiny rarely seem to occur with cool, snazzy, trendy, cult-driven Jobs/Apple?

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