Apple's Steve Jobs Rails On Flash, Adobe's CEO Hits Right Back

Sound the alarm. Wake the neighbors. Grab your guns. It's Adobe versus Apple, and the war is officially underway. As if Apple didn't enough have fighting going on in their backyard already, the company has seemingly picked another one this week with Adobe. The company responsible for Flash, Photoshop and Premiere has apparently got on Steve Jobs' (Apple CEO) bad side, causing him to lash out in a public note posted today on's homepage.

For starters, this move is very unlike Apple. In fact, this may be the first time in the company's history that Steve Jobs has replied openly to a company about an issue that has mostly be created and fueled by consumers and the media. The issue, of course, is the inability of the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad to play Flash videos or open Flash websites. It's a huge issue, there's no two ways around it. And while Adobe has been mostly quiet about it, consumers and the media have not. Many media outlets have panned the iPad for not being able to view Flash websites or Flash video; it's the sole reason that Hulu won't run on a Tablet that was reportedly designed for multi-media playback. How can Apple tout the iPad's multi-media capabilities when it can't even handle Hulu, right? Well, Steve Jobs has an answer--six answers, in fact.

The head of Apple has been steadfast in his determination to overlook Flash, come hell or high water. He knows that consumers hate not having Flash. He knows that vast amounts of websites and multi-media online relies on Flash. For as great as Mobile Safari is, it's still not the perfect mobile Web browser because it can't handle Flash. Basically, any Web site creator has to create a second site that loads without Flash elements in order to be viewed on the iPod touch, iPad or iPhone, and that's a serious shortcoming.

But Steve Jobs thinks that there's a better way than creating two sites; it's to create one site based around HTML5, CSS and JavaScript. Using open standards, he says, to bypass Flash altogether and create a single site that opens on any web browser for desktop or mobile. It's just one of the points he makes in a long rant on Adobe, where he also points out that many major media outlets have re-worked their websites specifically to work on the iLine of products. He also notes that Flash is the #1 reasons that Macs crash, and he doesn't want that kind of junk to go on with the iPad, iPod touch or iPhone. Basically, he just doesn't trust Flash to run well on mobile devices. He also thinks that Flash kills mobile battery life, and he mentions that Flash was never designed for use with touch-screen interfaces.

Later in the day, Shantanu Narayen (Adobe CEO) was interviewed by The Wall Street Journal, where they asked him to respond to some of Jobs' claims. He laughed off the notion that Flash was closed, and he frankly noted that both companies "have different views of the world," with Adobe's view being "multi-platform." He states that he has a Nexus One rather than an iPhone, and points out that Adobe has been working with a number of companies to implement Flash on future Tablets (a knock on the iPad, we guess). He also points out that Apple's view on Flash is forcing Web site owners and app developers to create two of everything: a normal version, and an Apple version. Developers, he thinks, are having to bend and create special versions for Apple, whereas Steve Jobs thinks these devs are having to make special versions for everyone else. You can see how the viewpoints would conflict, right?

We tend to agree and disagree with both gentlemen. Apple sees Flash as a last-generation standard that the world needs to kiss goodbye; Adobe sees Flash as the present and future, and that Apple needs to cave and adopt. We tend to think that Flash is on the way out, but it's far from gone. Until then, we'd like to see Apple support Flash, but we get the impression that Flash would never be relieved of its post if Apple were to do so. If the iPad and iPhone supported Flash, why would anyone develop around Flash? There'd be no good reason to waste resources doing so. Regardless of whether or not Steve Jobs thinks that Flash is good for mobile, the fact of the matter is that a lot of online content uses Flash today, and that's not changing tomorrow. It's really annoying to think that even an iPad, with a 1GHz CPU, can't play Hulu videos. All because Steve Jobs thinks that performance will be lackluster.

Have these guys considered working together to make things better? What if Apple could help Adobe create a new Flash that didn't drain the battery as bad, and that didn't require so many resources? There simply has to be a better way than pointing fingers and yelling about who is right in this situation, but considering the egos we're dealing with here, we doubt either of these men will cave and compromise. And in the end, the consumer loses because of it.