What is behind the Adobe vs. Apple feud?

I have been meaning to write this post, and news just got hotter with the latest news that Adobe is preparing to sue Apple.

Adobe vs. Apple is going to get uglier

You think things are bad now between Apple and Adobe? Just wait until the lawsuit.

207 comments | 36I like it!
Tags: Adobe, Apple, developer, flash, ipad, iPhone, iPod

April 12, 2010, 05:36 PM —

Usually I write about security here, but Apple's iron-bound determination to keep Adobe Flash out of any iWhatever device is about to blow up in Apple's face. Sources close to Adobe tell me that Adobe will be suing Apple within a few weeks.

It was bad enough when Apple said, in effect, that Adobe Flash wasn't good enough to be allowed on the iPad. But the final straw was when Apple changed its iPhone SDK (software development kit) license so that developers may not submit programs to Apple that use cross-platform compilers.

Below is more information, but I want to put my thoughts up here on what is behind the Adobe vs. Apple feud.  Apple's business is built on a closed system approach to its hardware and software.  Adobe's approach is cross platform technologies.  Adobe's history of postscript, type 1 fonts, Acrobat, and Mac/Win app development have targeted customers who need to work across different systems.  Postscript and Type 1 fonts worked because you could use the same postscript on Mac/Windows desktops, then on your high end printers.  This Adobe strategy also made it so their IP was owned by them to sell to others who wanted to be compatible with Apple printers and hardware, eventually bringing an end to the Apple LaserWriter as Apple couldn't compete.

Building on the success of the original LaserWriter, Apple developed many further models. Later LaserWriters offered faster printing, higher resolutions, Ethernet connectivity, and eventually color output. To compete, many other laser printer manufacturers licensed Adobe PostScript for inclusion into their own models. Eventually the standardization on Ethernet for connectivity and the ubiquity of PostScript undermined the unique position of Apple’s printers: Macintosh computers functioned equally well with any Postscript printer. After the LaserWriter 8500, Apple discontinued the LaserWriter product line.

Steve Jobs has learned this lesson well, and knows what happens if he lets Adobe's cross platform technologies into Apple products.  Steve's made his decision.  Adobe Flash will not ship on the iPhone as he can see what happened with postscript.  In addition, Steve has provided technical reasons why Adobe Flash is not appropriate for the iPhone, but if he really wanted Flash he couldn't he work with Adobe to address the technical issues?

Steve jobs has slammed Flash.

by Erica Ogg

Jobs iPad Flash

Jobs using the iPad, sans any support for Adobe Flash.

(Credit: James Martin/CNET)

Apple CEO Steve Jobs has reportedly continued his campaign against Adobe's Flash video technology, this time at a meeting with The Wall Street Journal, according to a report in Valleywag.

People who were at a recent meeting Jobs had with some of the paper's executives told the Gawker-owned sitethat Jobs dismissed Flash as "a CPU hog," full of "security holes," and "old technology" and would therefore not be including the technology on the iPad, or presumably, the iPhone. (Adobe did recently promise to make theMac version of its browser plug-in faster.)

It's not the first time we've heard this. At an Apple shareholder meeting two years ago Jobs explained why Flash wouldn't be on the iPhone any time soon. He told those present that the full-blown PC Flash version "performs too slow to be useful" on the iPhone, and that the mobile version--Flash Lite--"is not capable of being used with the Web."

The following reminds of the frustration at Apple and Microsoft when we cussed about Adobe Type Manager (ATM) crashing the OS. (I worked on both the Mac and Windows OS while at Apple and Microsoft.)

More recently, word leaked out from Apple's employee-only meeting after the iPad introduction that Jobs had slammed Flash. According to a report on Wired, he responded to an employee question that "whenever a Mac crashes, more often than not, it's because of Flash," and that "no one will be using Flash. The world is moving to HTML5."

The little piece of irony is Google believes HTML5 is key to mobile growth as well.

This is starting to feel like a feud similar to the Hatfields vs. McCoys.  Although a more modern term is a smackdown.

Steve Jobs hates Adobe Flash: iPhone 4.0 SDK lockdown smackdown


Ouch. Looks like writing apps in Flash is verboten, according to the latest iPhone OS 4.0 SDK legal language. CS5 and other cross-compilers could be dead in the water. In IT Blogwatch, bloggers uncover more proof that Steve Jobs hates Adobe.

By Richi Jennings. April 9, 2010.

He's back: your humble blogwatcher selected these bloggy morsels for your enjoyment. Not to mention Michelle Obama's biggest fear...
Cade Metz has met the enemy, and it's Adobe, apparently:

Apple's new SDK for the iPhone ... will likely prevent ... Adobe's upcoming Flash ... development suite from converting Flash scripts into native Jesus Phone apps. ... Apple's iPhone SDK has always said that "applications may only use Documented APIs." ... But Steve Jobs and company have now tacked on a few additional sentences.
It would appear that Steve Jobs has landed another blow against ... Adobe. ... Steve Jobs has already barred untranslated Flash from the iPhone and the iPad, calling it "buggy," littered with security holes, and a "CPU hog."more

John Gruber is widely credited with breaking the news:

My reading of this new language is that cross-compilers ... are prohibited. This also bans apps compiled using MonoTouch. ... The folks at Appcelerator realize ... that they might be out of bounds withTitanium. Ansca’s Corona SDK ... strikes me as out of bounds.
The language in the agreement doesn’t leave much wiggle room for Flash. ... Wonder what Adobe does now? ... They’re pretty much royally ****ed..more

Hank Williams calls it an "insane restraint of trade":

3.3.1 not only bans cross platform tools, it bans everything that is written in other languages and are ported to C. This, obviously, includes libraries. ... [It's] an insidious concept and strikes at the core of product development and of computer science in general. Everything is built on other stuff. ... This language is fundamentally unreasonable.
Some may say my interpretation is too pedantic. But the point is that in order for Apple to limit people in the way that they want to ... they are inflicting collateral damage. ... There is a reasonable risk that not only is 3.3.1 restraint of trade, but that the entire ... App Store concept ... is found to be restraint of trade. ... Adobe, and/or class action lawyers start your engines!