Adobe CEO: ‘There’s a War Happening for Developers’


At the Web 2.0 Summit this morning, Adobe (s ADBE) CEO Shantanu Narayen said his company’s battle with Apple (s AAPL) over the past year comes as a “war” is brewing between device and software manufacturers who want to bring new applications to consumer electronics devices. According to Narayen, that war is being fought to capture developer interest and ensure that the best applications are being built on different platforms.

“There’s a war happening for developers; there’s a war to try to get the best applications for a particular platform and to keep that lead,” Narayen said. In its effort to attract those developers, Narayen defined Adobe’s fundamental difference with Apple as a matter of being open and inclusive versus closed and proprietary.

“Adobe’s always been about helping people create content for multiple different devices and multiple platforms and bringing the power of that rich media, so I think Apple and Adobe are on different sides of this struggle for control,” Narayen said. In contrast, “Apple would like to create a closed and proprietary system, for developers to make applications that only work on ‘i’ devices, and continue to just operate on ‘i’ devices.”

Narayen also downplayed the so-called battle between Flash and HTML5, saying that Adobe will serve developer customers regardless of the format they want to develop rich media applications in. “People say this is about Flash versus HTML, but it isn’t … We’re all about creating the best tools,” Narayen said. “Adobe makes its money by creating authoring tools … It isn’t about the format, but about what the customer wants to do.”

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Mark Holloway.

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Don’t be serious! No one dead if you product is good enough or no other choices to select. Like CDG,IBM,Microsoft, etc. Why don’t we keep our reputation to use as marketing tool to provide a new great tools for HTML5 together with our possess tools. Um.. Can we go together with Apple and others? Whether we want to play “High Risk, High Return”.

Sean OBrien

Here’s an idea for an assignment for these new developers. They could write a new version of Flash which doesn’t crash or burn up the battery, or consume resources….etc. They could write a version so excellent that Apple would be forced to allow it in iOS.


Ah, Adobe, why don’t you stop just for once, and think. Rethink your Flash, stop making it a complicated, Windows-like buggy operating system, which overheats devices and crashes them. Improve Flash to be simpler, unbuggy, and see to it that it does not overheat the devices it runs on like cookers. And then watch if Apple supports it or not. If there is a war, Adobe, its because of your ignorance, laziness and stupidity for all these years for making running-OK-only-on-Windows products…


If “Apple would like to create a closed and proprietary system, for developers to make applications that only work on ‘i’ devices, and continue to just operate on ‘i’ devices”, then Adobe would like to create a closed and proprietary system, for developers to make applications that only work if created with Adobe’s tools and used on devices with Adobe’s plugins.

The difference is that Apple is quite happy to let its platform compete against other platforms, while Adobe wants its meta-platform to be the ‘one platform to rule them all’ by rendering the underlying platforms (Android, iOS/OSX, Windows, WebOS, RIM, etc.) irrelevant. Competition is a good thing that drives progress forward. I would much rather a somewhat fragmented world with 3-4 major platforms competing with one another (much like the current console market say, or even like most developed countries’ political systems) than having one single monoculture standard.

There is a trade-off between competition and fragmentation, of course, but the more complex the platform/standard, the greater the need for there to be ‘more than one’ of them.

John Christian

Santanu Narayen is absolutely right. His comment is quite profound “that it is all about tools”… I wont be surprised if adobe photshop or dreamweaver also establishes themselves as the best ever HTML5 editor on this planet. Thanks for your insight Mr Narayen.


They’re BOTH proprietary. Yes, it’s about what the customer wants to do. “Do” meaning, what the customer wants to “pay for.” Wanna give yer bucks to Adobe, or wanna give yer bucks to Apple?

I think I can deduce where Adobe would rather I’d send my bucks. (And I think I can deduce where Apple would rather I’d send my bucks.) There’s no open and inclusive solution on either side. What schmucks.


More BS from Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen. Will it ever end?
Can anyone answer this question: How did this guy get to be CEO of Asobe? Did Microsoft have anything to do with it?

Carmen Hughes

I totally agree with Mike Bass’ comment below. Adobe is duplicitous in its attempt to present itself ‘non-proprietary.’


Ha! Just because you have zero competitors, doesn’t mean that you have the “best tools”. I would love to see a company come along with some competing design products. Maybe at that point Adobe would have an incentive to overhaul their buggy software (Creative Suite), and give developers and designers tools they don’t have to curse at.

Mike Bass

Narayen is full of it and trying to shovel out some revisionist history. Who was pushing for HTML5, an open platform, over Flash? Apple. Adobe finally started talking about developing for “the best format” only after it was obvious to everyone that Flash would eventually lose and Adobe should concentrate on developing tools, not platforms. I agree that Adobe is best at creating content tools, but they lost sight of that for a few years until opposition to Flash forced their hand.

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