Apple Vs Adobe: Round Two Could Herald The Knockout Blow

Seconds out, round one! Once the best of friends, technology giants Apple and Adobe have more recently been involved in a fistfight that would do the heavyweight boxing division proud.

In the red corner, Apple – an experienced but innovative slugger that is now worth more in market capital terms than software behemoth Microsoft. From the desktop to the pocket, Apple has become the consumer – and increasingly, enterprise – product of choice.

In the blue corner, Adobe – another innovative firm, famed for its multimedia software and rich internet application development tools, such as Flash. And it is the last area that has caused consternation with Apple.

At times, the heavyweight battle can look more like a schoolyard scrap. In a recent note (see further reading, below), Apple chief executive Steve Jobs made much of the former pals’ friendship.

“Apple has a long relationship with Adobe. In fact, we met Adobe’s founders when they were in their proverbial garage. Apple was their first big customer,” starts Jobs’ open letter, before taking a swipe at Adobe’s technical troubles.

Jobs suggests Flash is poorly designed, has security concerns and is ill equipped for the mobile age (see further reading). Apple banned Flash from its iPhone in 2007 and its iPad in 2010, restricting the use of the third party tool for developers.

For its part, Adobe has issued a staunch defence, concentrating on the inherent openness and innovation of the internet. Adobe co-founders Chuck Geschke and John Warnock suggest that Apple’s restrictions “could undermine this next chapter of the web”.

Which is a big claim, but are they right? Flash is undoubtedly a popular web development mechanism. However, its attractiveness will undoubtedly be affected by Apple’s decision to restrict the use of Flash, especially as the iPhone and iPad are the devices of the moment.

There are, of course, other web development platform options. Jobs’ letter refers to open standards, such as CSS and JavaScript. He draws particular attention to HTML5, which he says is the new web standard, a standard that means web developers do not have to rely on third party plug-ins.

Currently under-development, HTML5 already boats some big backers and impressive features, such as drag-and-drop and – most crucially, in terms of the ongoing status of Adobe Flash – video playback. Round two of the fight is only just beginning but the combined power of Apple allied to the inevitable success of HTML5 could land a knock out blow on Flash.

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Dharmesh Mistry is the CTO/COO of Edge IPK, a leading provider of front-end Web solutions. Within his blog, “Facing up to IT”, Dharmesh considers a number of technology issues, ranging from Web 2.0, SOA and Mobile platforms, and how these impact upon business. Having launched some of the very first online financial services in 1997, and since then delivering online solutions to over 30 FS organisations and pioneering Single Customer View (Lloyds Bank, 1989) and Multi Channel FS (Demonstrated in Tomorrow’s World in 99), Dharmesh can be considered a true veteran of both the Financial Services and Technology industries.