Think Different or else
The Adobe response to Steve Jobs' Just Say No to Flash post shows exactly how tone-deaf Adobe continues to be. And reading the Wall Street Journal's summary (on the iPad of course) hammers the disconnect home, as unnamed publishers complained about Apple's stance. Unnamed because they don't want to venture too far out ahead of the mistaken notion that there's something wrong with keeping Flash off the most important platform since the color TV.
As I put the new 3G version of the iPad through its paces, it's clear Adobe is determined to go down the same road WordPerfect and Lotus went down at a similar inflection point. At the time, Windows and IBM's OS/2 had gone their separate ways as Microsoft readied its Office suite. In the crosshairs were the leading DOS word processor and spreadsheet. Instead of attacking the Microsoft challenge head-on, both competitors developed OS/2 versions and kissed their assets goodbye.
Now Adobe is doing the same thing, and the only people they're kidding are themselves. Instead of acknowledging that the Flash strategy was designed to interrupt Apple's control of its platform, the Adobe spokesman attacked Apple left and right as destroyers of freedom, evildoers, convicted monopolists.... Well, no, but Adobe's vibe is that how dare Apple do what they can to limit the outside control of a vendor hellbent on reducing Apple's leverage in the marketplace.
It's almost as hard to swallow as Google's contortions around the support for Flash in Android. The press release/blog post on the subject invented a new form of 1984speak by calling Flash support being more "open" to user preferences. Well done, Google. Sacrifice your hard won open standards cred by backing the Flash ubiquity argument just when Apple and Microsoft (the rest of the market) embrace H.264 in iOS and IE9.
Google can probably get away with this double-talk because they can always fall back on "we're doing a lot of stuff and some of it works and some of it doesn't". This is the Google Wave cover story should that project fail to integrate or absorb any real territory. But Adobe can't pull that off because they are not printing money with advertising and are being undercut by free developer tools from Microsoft for Silverlight. Instead they come across as shrill, arrogant, and clueless.
Jobs' post smoothly got to the heart of the matter by listing all the rationales for dropping Flash and then plainly stating why it was not in the company's interest to promote a disruption of its hard-won edge. The iPad's edge is that it is a battery with a touch screen. Put that up against any net book, laptop, or game machine and it blows everything out of the water. It's VHS to BetaMax for video, something in between iTunes and Napster for the lurching music business, and ground zero for the social media platform wars.
Why has Jobs attacked Flash? All the reasons he states plus the key ingredient: Adobe is vulnerable in an area they've spent considerable time locking out the rest of the cross-platform market. The company is like Yahoo when Ballmer put the squeeze on with a predatory offer that basically said take the deal now or we'll strip you of search for half the price later. Here the challenge is: start the development pipeline in Objective C and then produce the down level lowest common denominator, or we'll cut off your oxygen and prove to the rest of the market that you're not worth preserving now if you can't survive later on. That might seem like a hollow promise given Apple's history of mutual back scratching with its graphics core audience.
But the iPad spells big trouble for Adobe long term because just as Apple has created a green field for building out an Office replacement with Pages and Keynote and maybe Numbers, it can do the same with Photoshop and Premiere (not that Premiere isn't already dead via iMovie and Final Cut.) It's a new OS you see, and since Adobe is not taking the right steps to dump Flash and build a tool for us, we'll just have to do it ourselves in H.264 and Touch and hooked up directly to Mobile Me, etc.
In other words, here Adobe, kill your cross-platform auto update Trojan Horse and join our AppStore auto update cloud. As I type, there are already 10 new upgrades waiting in AppStore, with iPad apps growing at 20% every two weeks. Oh, by the way, the number of updates on my iPad Nano (iPhone) are only 5, suggesting half of the new updates are iPad. Yum yum, more functionality and improvements as the user base switches over to the new metaphors and transaction opportunities.
This by the way is ruthless penetration into the heart of the Android value proposition. Nexus One is shut out on Verizon (sorry Google, you don't have the guns to force us to roll over just yet) and the iPad is pulling away in apps. And just about the time a fragmented Android tablet begins to pick up steam, the multitasking iPhone 4 OS has given iOS developers a sufficient taste of coolness factor and revenue to fund piggybacked iPad apps that go live two months later in the fall. Is Facebook going to rush an Android app to prop up Google's tablet?
Maybe, but they're certainly not going to build such an app first, not if Adobe has already caved and rebuilt the Wired app on Objective C to get around the blockade. No matter what anybody says, this is not about Flash; it's about the new Apple OS and the new Office suite and the integration of a social media stream at the heart of our metadata generation experience. When Steve Jobs says Flash isn't built for Touch, he's not kidding. And soon we'll find out what is.
Sent from my iPad
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