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Adobe Launches All Out War on Apple Over Flash

We Heart Apple Ad
We've been wondering where the skirmishes between Apple and Adobe would lead, and today we were shocked (pleasantly so) to see that Adobe had decided to launch an all-out PR assault on Apple. Adobe bought a full-page ad in the Washington Post and a banner ad on our sister site Engadget. Both read, "We [heart] Apple," and then continued: "What we don't love is anybody taking away your freedom to choose what you create, how you create it, and what you experience on the Web."

Clicking on the ad leads to an open letter from Adobe chairmen Chuck Geschke and John Warnock. The pair espouse the importance of open markets and an open Web, painting the battle with Apple in terms of consumer and developer choice:
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.
The letter ends with the Adobe co-founders declaring that no single company controls the Web.

In case you need a quick refresher, here's how the feud between Apple and Adobe has played out thus far. Apple has refused to allow Flash on its mobile devices. To make matters worse, Steve Jobs has made a habit of saying some rather unpleasant things about Flash publicly, going so far as to blame it for the majority of OS X crashes. Ever since, Jobs and Adobe have been firing salvos back and forth, exchanging accusations of stifling innovation and of failing to properly serve consumers. Most notably, Steve Jobs posted a letter explaining his opposition to Flash, loaded with shockingly un-self-aware complaints about Adobe's closed and proprietary systems. Adobe called Jobs out for his smokescreen, and implied that the turtleneck-wearing CEO was simply trying to lock developers into the iPhone platform (an accusation with which we're inclined to agree).

All of these things understandably annoyed Adobe, but some quiet changes to the developer agreement, updated for iPhone 4.0, were really what turned Steve Jobs from impudent CEO to villain. The agreement includes a clause that reads:
Applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine, and only code written in C, C++, and Objective-C may compile and directly link against the Documented APIs (e.g., Applications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool are prohibited).
Effectively, that puts an end to Adobe's work-around for Flash on the iDevice lineup. The company has been supplying developers with tools that allow them to translate applications created with Flash and Air into versions that are compatible with the iPhone. The new clause would prohibit developers from using that feature.

Despite The Next Web's proclamation that Adobe needs to "suck it up" and move on, we think Adobe has legitimate reason to continue this battle, and we're glad they are. Adobe has an obvious business interest in making sure Flash remains relevant, especially as smartphones become more ubiquitous. We're not huge fans of Flash [author's note: As a Linux user, it is particularly frustrating], but blocking developers from using Adobe's translation tools makes it much harder for applications to be created for several platforms at once. In fact, it would actually block several highly anticipated products, such as Wired's impressive-looking tablet edition, which was built with Adobe Air precisely so that it could be ported easily to multiple devices and platforms.

By preventing developers from using Adobe's translation tools, Apple is hoping to force programmers to create applications exclusively for the iPhone. This would obviously give a huge advantage to Apple in the market, but the tactics being used are rather draconian. Considering Apple's track record though, it comes as little surprise. [From: Engadget and The Next Web]

Tags: adobe, adobe air, adobe and apple, AdobeAir, AdobeAndApple, advertising, air, apple, business, flash, ipad, Iphone4.0, stevejobs, top