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Adobe Declines to Come Out Swinging Against Apple

Adobe (s ADBE) CTO Kevin Lynch, despite being given the stage and the opportunity, declined to escalate his company’s fight against Apple (s AAPL) to the level raised by Steve Jobs last week when he posted a 1,700-word anti-Flash screed on

Kevin Lynch at NewTeeVee Live in November

Lynch was polite but firm that Adobe is committed to “freedom of choice on the web” during a keynote interview at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco. He said Adobe expects to develop tools for HTML 5 now that it’s gaining steam, emphasized Adobe’s commitment to the collaborative Open Screen Project and contended that Apple’s moves are “preventing healthy competition.”

“It’s kind of like railroads in the 1800s with everyone trying to compete on freight and delivery,” Lynch said. But with differently gauged railroads, some companies’ trains could not compete. Only after freedom of transport and open access were instated could competitors battle it out “on the merits of what they do not the gauge of the rails.”

Lynch avoided addressing two key topics in his comments head on: One, the potential antitrust case against Apple that’s reportedly based on a complaint by Adobe. And two, Jobs’ contention from last week that Flash loses on the merits, because it’s too crash-prone and battery-intensive.

However, Lynch did note the technology precedent Adobe set by building a capable workaround to adapt Flash applications for the iPhone platform using Flash CS 5, which Apple is now blocking developers from using. “The technology issue I think Apple has with us is not that it doesn’t work; it’s that it does work,” said Lynch. “We don’t want to play technology games when Apple’s just playing a legal game. We’re not going to keep doing technological work when we’re blocked like that.” Lynch said he believes applications developed for cross-platform use can absolutely compete with native apps.

Meanwhile, Adobe is demonstrating Flash and Air running on a prototype Android (s GOOG) multitouch tablet at its booth on the Web 2.0 floor. Here’s a video:

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13 Responses to “Adobe Declines to Come Out Swinging Against Apple”

  1. I guess there’s no harm playing the victim…

    A few years ago I read an profile of Adobe in a major business journal, a forget the one at the moment, the described how Adobe intended to dominate the online content deliver tools business. The article oozed confidence.

    It’s amazing how a little competition and a setback or two changes the tune.

  2. Johnnyg

    The problem is that they are just demos. Too many times tech companies show great demos, then 6 months to a year later, a product appears.

    All I can do it look at here and now, and right now, I just don’t like flash for video. I can’t speak for games and flash apps.


  3. I think the Flash demos on Android devices are the actions speaking louder than words here — and that’s something the mobile device community hasn’t seen much of. Folks have been hearing that Flash will be on mobiles for nearly two years, but haven’t seen a shipped product, so the demos (which look quite good, BTW) might make a bigger statement than Lynch could have on stage.

    • Flash demos 2 years after Android shipped? How can we feel badly for Adobe about Apple keeping Flash off iPhone if there is little sign that Adobe could have delivered in the first place?

      And how about a 64-bit version of Flash to let people use IE 8’s 64-bit version with Win 7?

      The coroner’s verdict on Adobe will be ‘suicide’, not ‘murder’.

      • I’m not suggesting any sympathy for Adobe, that would be blasphemy after my last two posts on the topic. ;)

        But my point was that up to now most, if not all, of the Flash demos on Android have been behind closed doors, i.e.: orchestrated Adobe videos. The demos at Web 2.0 are available for anyone at the event to see, and that’s a step for Adobe. A baby step that’s happening in the bottom of the ninth, yes, but a step.

      • “Isn’t that second article of yours a little contradictory with the headline of this article and Adobe’s behavior in general?”

        How so? I’m not saying it isn’t, I’m just looking for clarification.

      • “Adobe declines to come out swinging against Apple” while your second article quite clearly shows Adobe directly responding to Apple flashless concerns: “[I]f I want to go to Fox Business News or watch a Fox show on my smartphone, I’m going to be capable of doing that on certain devices (with Flash) and not other devices.”

        While certainly misguided, it was still a swing.

        Also, not written by you, the Adobe CEO has been quite actively fighting against Apple elsewhere in the media:

        While this interview may have been aggressive, the title is a bit disingenuous.

      • Ok, I understand your question better, but I don’t see how you’re arriving at your conclusion.

        On 4/13, the Adobe CEO was indeed fighting back publicly against Apple and I wrote as such on 4/19 (the article you reference). Today, which is three weeks later, Adobe’s CTO didn’t spotlight the Adobe – Apple issues on stage at Web 2.0, which is what Liz covered today.

        It’s almost as if you’re suggesting that every action Adobe is taking is a swipe at Apple and if they fail to do so, our reporting is consistent… again, I’m not seeing how you’re drawing your conclusion. For many weeks prior to today, Adobe was pretty consistent against Apple on the Flash issue. Today, they chose not to act that way, perhaps due to the potential anti-trust investigation or simply because they wanted to focus on other topics.

        As a result, I’m just missing the point of your question, although I am trying understand the thought process behind it.

      • I mostly just have an issue with the premise of the article (and the summary of the premise in the title).

        Adobe DID come out swinging after the letter in question.

        Adobe HAS been escalating this struggle with Apple just as Apple has.

        The tone of the article is that Adobe is trying to be level headed one when it’s clearly not what’s going on.

        It would have been far more accurate to say that Lynch declined to come out swinging.