Adobe respond to Jobs' "thoughts on Flash"

The Wall Street Journal has had a short live-blog session with Adobe CEO, Shantanu Narayen, regarding today's "Thoughts on Flash" letter by Steve Jobs. In the interview, Narayen says that the technology problems Jobs portrays are nothing more than a "smokescreen," and that over 100 applications made by Adobe software can currently be found in the App Store.

Narayen also goes on the attack, stating that if Adobe really is the number one cause of Mac crashes, then the problem is with the Apple OS, and not Adobe's product. In addition to addressing other issues, Narayen makes Adobe's stance on the matter clear--customers will be the ones to decide what technology to use, and Adobe firmly believes in a multi-platform world.

Aside from the official response from Adobe, former Editor-in-Chief of MacUsers, Adam Banks, has voiced an opinion of his own. In a letter entitled "Thoughts on 'Thoughts on Flash'," Banks likens to situation to Apple's choice to drop serial and parallel ports, or to cripple backward compatibility in the newer version of its OS. He calls the move "brave and forward-looking." He feels that a lot of what Jobs had to say "makes sense," though does not openly agree or disagree with the overall decision to not support Flash.

Banks then addresses the points he disagrees with, one by one. You can view the whole thing here, however, these are some of his major points:

  • It was Adobe who supported Apple in the beginning. Not vice versa.
  • Mac users don't buy half of Adobe's Creative Suite products. Creative Suite users purchase Macs to use it on. If Adobe dropped Mac support, Apple would sell far less computers.
  • Creating a browser that supports open standards is not the same thing as "creating open standards."
  • iProducts, are missing out on plenty of video content. To say otherwise is simply untrue.
  • Not supporting Flash because of its past inability to handle H.264 is wrong.

For another impressive breakdown of how Steve Jobs incorrectly portrayed the state of Flash technologies, see, Flash developer Jesse Warden's blog post entitled, "Correcting the Lies."

Below is the full Wall Street Journal interview (all directly quoted from WSJ):

2:36 pm
Alan Murray begins the interview, calling Mr. Jobs's missive an "extraordinary attack." He asks Mr. Narayen what Adobe has done to deserve this.

2:40 pm
Mr. Narayen says that the difference is that Adobe believes in open content. He says that their Creative Suite software was designed to work on multiple devices and that Apple's "recent behavior shows that they are concerned about Adobe being able" to provide this product that works across multiple platforms.

2:43 pm
Mr. Murray likens the Apple-Adobe fight to that between reality TV stars John and Kate Gosselin and asks about the history between the two companies. Mr. Narayan says that Adobe has been "true to the position" with which it was founded and to the idea that it should help people deal with multiple operating systems.

2:45 pm
Mr. Narayan talks about Adobe "certainly" shipping on Android's latest version. He says that it is an "incredibly productive time" for Adobe and discusses Creative Suite 5, saying that Adobe's "innovation is blowing people away."

2:47 pm
The technology problems that Mr. Jobs mentions in his essay are "really a smokescreen," Mr. Narayan says. He says more than 100 applications that used Adobe's software were accepted in the App Store. "When you resort to licensing language" to restrict this sort of development, he says, it has "nothing to do with technology."

2:49 pm
He says that Apple's restrictiveness is just going to make it "cumbersome" for developers who are trying to make products that work on many devices. They're going to have to have "two workflows" ...  one for Apple devices and one for others.

2:51 pm
Speaking about Mr. Jobs's assertion that Adobe is the No. 1 cause of Mac crashes, Mr. Narayan says if Adobe crashes Apple, that actually has something "to do with the Apple operating system."

2:52 pm
Mr. Narayan calls accusations about Flash draining battery power "patently false." Speaking about Mr. Jobs's letter in general, he says that "for every one of these accusations made there is proprietary lock-in" that prevents Adobe from innovating.

2:53 pm
Mr. Narayan poses a question to Alan Murray, asking him if the Journal would "want to have stovepipes" when it is creating content. Mr. Murray says that certainly "it would be better if you could use one set" of development tools.

2:54 pm
Responding to a question about Mr. Jobs's assertion that Adobe is a closed platform, Mr. Narayan chuckles. "I find it amusing, honestly. Flash is an open specification," he says.

2:55 pm
The Journal wants to know whether Mr. Narayan knows Steve Jobs. "I've met him on a number of occasions," he says.

2:55 pm
"We have different views of the world," Mr. Narayan says. "Our view of the world is multi-platform."

2:56 pm
Does Mr. Narayan use an iPhone? "I have a Google Nexus One device," he says. And what about the iPad? "I think it's a good first-generation device. I think you're going to see just tremendous innovation in terms of tablets." Adobe is, in fact, working with "dozens" of tablet projects with other companies, he says.

2:57 pm
To conclude, Mr. Narayan says he's for "letting customers decide," but that the multi-platform world will "eventually prevail." And the interview wraps up.

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