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Apple vs Adobe: Steve Jobs is Emperor Ming

Apple's clash with Flash adds to long fight vs Adobe

By Simon Jary, PC Advisor UK
April 28, 2010 10:05 AM ET

PC Advisor UK - Apple and Adobe are best buddies, right? Have been for years. Started desktop publishing together. Owned the digital creative market. Mac + Photoshop = graphic design. Wrong. Apple and Adobe are at each other's throats - or, rather, Apple is tearing a hole in Adobe's throat. Adobe, so far, is standing there, looking rather bemused and hurt. But Apple keeps hitting it in the face. With a hammer.

It's all about Flash, Adobe's ubiquitous multimedia platform that you can find on most websites offering video and on those sites with annoying percentage countdowns that promise some silly animation that's in the way of what you actually need to use the site for.

If you're one of the 4 percent who don't have Flash installed on your Mac or PC you'll recognise it as a little blue Lego cube sitting in the middle of a blank box.

It's called Flash not because it's lightning fast or particularly ostentatious. It used to be called FutureSplash Animator. Macromedia renamed it by taking the 'F' from Future and the "lash" from Splash. Hence, Flash. Somewhere out there in the software ether is a neglected product called utureSp. If you come across it, give it a pat.

Adobe loves Flash. It's the main reason the company purchased Macromedia for $3.4 billion in 2005. That's a lot of love. It also got hold of FreeHand, a competitor to Adobe's Illustrator, and Dreamweaver, a rival to Adobe GoLive. FreeHand was doomed. In return, so was GoLive.

Apple doesn't love Flash. It hates it. It wants Flash in the pan.

Apple blames Flash for most of the crashes reported by users of its Safari web browser. And it doesn't want it anywhere near its iPhone or iPad.

To ensure this Apple has changed the licensing terms for developers building applications for iPhone version 4.0. iPhone and iPad developers now can't submit programs to Apple that use cross-platform compilers. Adobe has just introduced exactly such a cross-platform Flash-to-iPhone compiler with version 5 of its Creative Suite.

In technical terms Apple's new rule is that iPhone and iPad applications must be "originally written" in C/C++/Objective-C - and that's bad news for Flash.

Apple wants to establish Cocoa Touch and its App Store as the de facto standard for mobile apps. It doesn't want any other company establishing another standard that it can't control on top of Cocoa Touch.

Less technically, Apple doesn't want a single-vendor independent software standard to run in iPhone or iPad apps.

When Apple updates the iPhone software it wants users' apps to work with it straight away. If another company is in control of even a little bit of software in those apps, and it's slow to update for the iPhone/iPad first, the whole update process becomes a mess - a mess out of Apple's control.

What if that company updated its software for Google's Android first, BlackBerry, or - heaven forbid - Windows Phone 7? The iPhone suffers.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs has been quite explicit about this: "Intermediate layers between the platform and the developer ultimately produces sub-standard apps and hinders the progress of the platform."

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