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July 21, 2011

Adobe: Apple “clearly has to catch up” with Flash

Adobe again asks when Apple will support Flash on its "closed" mobile devices

By Jason Stamper

Steve Jobs with his iPad

Apple’s Steve Jobs at the launch of the iPad.

Adobe Enterprise head Rob Tarkoff told CBR he believes "Apple clearly has to catch up" with rival tablets and smartphones that are able to run Adobe’s Flash multimedia platform.

Apple has so far blocked the ability to run Flash on iPhones, iPods or iPads, limiting the ability to see Flash-based video, animation and other Flash-based interactivity on some websites.

In an open letter in April 2010, Apple chief Steve Jobs said the reason he wouldn’t let Flash into that ecosystem was down to the fact Flash is, in his view, proprietary Adobe technology, and Apple prefers to support open standards such as HTML5, CSS and JavaScript. "While Adobe’s Flash products are widely available, this does not mean they are open, since they are controlled entirely by Adobe and available only from Adobe," Jobs said.

Jobs also hit back at claims from Adobe that 75% of video on the web is in Flash, arguing that the majority of videos can be played on Apple’s mobile devices in the H.264 format, and that it has thousands of games in the Apple AppStore too. Jobs also criticized the reliability, security, performance and battery life when running Flash on a mobile device. As if that wasn’t enough he said Flash wasn’t optimized for touch screens, and that he didn’t want developers using Flash to build apps for Apple’s mobile devices (but to use Apple’s tools instead).

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Yet as Adobe’s Tarkoff noted, rival Android mobile device makers are now supporting Flash on their devices. "Flash in the browser has been adopted by a lot of tablet manufacturers like [the] Android [ecosystem] and Research in Motion."

Tarkoff also claimed: "I don’t believe that [Apple] iDevices will necessarily have the dominant market share forever. There will be this question over open versus closed ecosystems, and Android has made the bet that it can be open and support all elements of the web. How quickly will those other providers catch up?"

In his letter in April 2010 Jobs made it clear he was unlikely to change his mind any time soon: "New open standards created in the mobile era, such as HTML5, will win on mobile devices (and PCs too). Perhaps Adobe should focus more on creating great HTML5 tools for the future, and less on criticizing Apple for leaving the past behind."

Adobe insists that it should be possible to run Flash on mobile devices like the iPad, saying after its launch: "It looks like Apple is continuing to impose restrictions on their devices that limit both content publishers and consumers."

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