Skip to main content

Adobe fights back after Apple’s rebuff of Flash

After Apple’s decision to ban Flash video from its media-savvy iPad and Steve Jobs’ explanation of why, Adobe Systems came back fighting — launching a major publicity campaign, including major ads on the Internet and in The New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

At Web 2.0 in San Francisco last week, Adobe’s CTO Kevin Lynch, in a highly anticipated speech, insisted his firm was committed to “freedom of choice on the Web” and does not see the online world as a battle between plug-ins like Flash and the emerging standard HTML5. Indeed, he said Adobe would develop tools for HTML5.

Lynch agreed that HTML5 was “a terrific step forward” and promised that Adobe would “make the best tools in the world for HTML5.” He also pointed to Flash’s history of innovating quickly to fill holes in HTML, when that platform was stagnating. Adobe will continue to do that, he argued, believing that the two technologies will continue to coexist.

Adobe then published “The Truth About Flash” in an attempt to counter Steve Jobs’ essay “Thoughts on Flash.” It was essentially a point-by-point rebuttal.

Using a soft shoe approach under the headline “We ♥ Apple,” Adobe concludes with “we don’t love anybody taking away your freedom to choose what you create, how you create it and what you experience on the Web.”

Adobe sought to convince visitors that Flash indeed works well on mobile processors by doing a demonstration on a prototype tablet using the cross-platform Flash/Air combo running on Android with an Nvidia Tegra processor.

Jobs charged that Adobe has failed to deliver a usable, low-power and rich user experience on mobile devices. That’s a key reason he refused to use Flash on the iPad, which gets over 10 hours of use on a single battery charge. Many media organizations quickly abandoned Flash and moved to HTML5, causing upheaval at Adobe.

Late last week, Hulu briefly entered the fray by posting a blog item and then quickly pulling it, saying about HTML5 “as of now it doesn’t yet meet all of our customers’ needs.” Eugene Wei, Hulu’s vice president of product development, said that Hulu’s player doesn’t just stream video, it also must do things like secure the content, handle reporting for advertisers, and do “dozens of other things that aren’t necessarily visible to the end user”— all of which are critically important for Hulu and often part of contractual requirements.

It sounded as if Hulu was not going to support HTML5, but the quick removal of the item online could mean something else.

Meanwhile, Apple’s iPad sold over a million units in the first 28 days it was on the market. There continues to be a global waiting list. The sales have set off a scramble for competing tablets.