Adobe loves Apple. Yes, and politicians are sincere human beings who love to help their fellow man. And the corner drug dealer only wants to make us feel better in an unkind world.
Adobe’s new We Love Apple ad campaign is designed to do one thing. Sell more Adobe products to Apple’s customers. Adobe wants to sell more mediocre proprietary tools and stop the growth of open standards backed by Apple. It’s that simple.
Adobe’s Ad Campaign Is Not About Love
It’s been said that nearly half of Adobe’s profits (or, revenue; it doesn’t really matter) comes from Apple’s Mac customers. Whatever the number or percentage, it’s substantial. Some of that revenue and those substantial profits are in grave danger.
Why? Change. The web is moving toward more open standards.
Adobe’s Flash, however, is a proprietary platform to create and deliver content to Mac and Windows PC users. And, for a variety of reasons, Flash is in decline.
The most ubiquitous use of Flash on the internet falls into two obvious areas—animated ads, and video. The Flash player is proprietary but cross platform, which makes it the de facto standard for delivering animation and video on the web.
At best, Adobe needs an intervention. Or, professional counseling. Adobe would have customers believe that Flash is open. It is not. Flash is a proprietary technology to create and deliver content—which only comes from Adobe. All of Adobe’s noise about the matter of Flash and Apple and content is a smokescreen to hide greed and protectionism.
Apple And Adobe: Make War, Not Love
Without getting too deeply into open vs. proprietary (both have their place), note that Apple, too, is greedy and selfish. Apple wants the experience of using their products—hardware and software—to be the best it can be. For Apple’s mobile devices, that means no Adobe Flash. Why?
Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ missive, Thoughts on Flash, tells the story from Apple’s perspective. Flash is not open. It’s proprietary. The web is moving toward open standards. Worse, Flash performs poorly or not at all on mobile devices. There are better solutions. Adobe, of course, does not agree, so Apple and Adobe are at war.
Adobe’s response has been what you would expect of a company whose products are under fire. Adobe is defensive. Dozens of arguments are thrown against the public opinion wall to see what will stick. The latest salvo is Adobe Loves Apple.
Along with the advertising campaign, Adobe provided a public letter from their founders, Chuck Geschke and John Warnock. The letter and my perspective follow.
We believe that consumers should be able to freely access their favorite content and applications, regardless of what computer they have, what browser they like, or what device suits their needs. No company – no matter how big or how creative – should dictate what you can create, how you create it, or what you can experience on the web.
Why does Adobe’s Flash perform so poorly on mobile devices? It’s not just the iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad. Flash performance is horrible on the Mac, and has been for many years. Why no Flash on smart phones, Adobe? Because performance is terrible.
Is Apple dictating your mobile device experience by refusing to allow Flash or other Adobe tools which would reduce or impair the user experience? Yes. It’s Apple’s right. Let the market decide.
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.
Adobe disguises their selfish propaganda by using terms such as open market. In other words, Adobe believes they should be allowed to sell their products any way they choose. Apple believes the same thing—sans some of Adobe’s products. No market is totally open. Conflicts exist. With Adobe and Apple we are witnessing a conflict for the ages. May the best products win.
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.
First, Adobe hasn’t taken an open market approach. It has taken a proprietary, commercial approach and demands that all platforms make themselves available for their tools. Apple’s perspective, though conflicting with Adobe, is a similar approach. Apple’s tools are proprietary and they want only Apple’s tools to be used to create applications for Apple’s mobile devices (iPhone, iPad). That includes Flash and other tools to create cross platform apps (for Windows, Mac, Android, iPhone, et al) applications.
Second, this component of the conflict and Adobe’s stance doesn’t have as much to do with the web as they imply. It has to do with tools to create applications that can be used to run on mobile devices. In this regard, Apple wants to see more open tools like HTML 5 vs. Adobe’s proprietary tools. Why? The capability to display content on the internet the same way on all devices—using open standards—is important to users, and to Apple. Adobe is the odd man out.
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.
The high and mighty founders of Adobe, who made themselves rich by flooding the web with content created using proprietary tools that circumvented open standards, don’t have much room to argue, so they resort to superfluous commonalities to which everyone should agree. Make the web open. No one has control. Doesn’t that sound wonderful? Isn’t that the way it should be?
Adobe doesn’t like that trend because it could harm their revenue.
Apple’s mobile devices run proprietary operating systems and use proprietary tools to create applications for those devices.
By forcing developers to use only Apple’s tools, Apple has blocked Adobe from creating and selling tools which would create applications that run on other devices—and Apple’s mobile devices. It’s a strategic decision by Apple to control how apps are developed on their devices. Why? Apple believes apps and content created by Adobe are inferior and harm the user experience. I agree.
Adobe is squealing like a pig. The public relations and advertising campaigns never disclose and only disguise the real problem. Adobe’s products to create and display animation on the web, and to create cross platform applications are mediocre. Apple doesn’t want those mediocre products to contaminate their mobile devices.
Is there a solution to this conflict? Yes. I recommend four steps, all of which depend upon Adobe. First, open source Flash. Second, build a better Flash player that does not degrade performance on mobile devices. Third, stop trying to build lowest common denominator cross platform tools that lead to mediocre applications and performance. Fourth, stop digging. You’re in a deep hole. Continual digging won’t get you out.