Adobe CEO: iPad’s Days are Numbered

Apple’s iPad is doomed to fall to competing tablets, and that day is coming soon, according to Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen. He shared that bit of precognition, along with some other thoughts, this week in an interview at the AllThingsD D9 conference.

“What you saw with smartphones hitting an inflection point with Android, you’ll see it again with tablets,” Mr. Narayen said. “There will be another 20 tablets that will come by the end of the year that will push the industry in different directions.”

Flash is brining the iPad down, man!Adobe’s Narayen: The iPad will fall to Flash-running tablets

He sees Flash support on Android tablets, RIM’s PlayBook, and HP’s webOS-based tablets that aren’t on the market yet as a key component in the looming downfall of the iPad. Apple’s iPad, along with the iPhone and iPod touch don’t support Adobe’s Flash multimedia platform, and likely never will.

Apple’s decision to support HTML 5 instead of Flash in iOS was strictly a business decision, according to Mr. Narayen. “People talked about the fact that they thought it was a technology issue, and I think it’s become fairly clear over the last year that it’s not about the technology,” he said. “It’s about a business model issue. It’s about control of a platform. It’s the control of the App Store that’s really at issue here.”

From Apple’s perspective, however, staying away from Flash is a smart move because of poor performance and ongoing security issues. Flash support on mobile devices is limited compared to desktop and laptop computers, too, and some Flash interface features don’t translate to touch displays since they require mouse movements.

Those arguments didn’t stop Mr. Narayen from claiming Flash is still a critical platform to support on mobile devices. “The value proposition Flash has is that we allow people to author programs once and get them to as many devices as possible. We’ve done that with Android,” he said.

What Adobe hasn’t done, however, is show that Flash performance on mobile devices is on par with computers, or that battery life isn’t compromised on smartphones and tablets running Flash.

The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg, who was interviewing Mr. Narayen, didn’t seemed to be swayed by his arguments. 

“I have yet to test a single one where Flash works really well, I’m sorry,” Mr. Mossberg said. “[Flash] struggles on those Android devices.”

Relying on Flash as the hammer to bring down the iPad from its top position in the tablet market may leave Mr. Narayen sorry, too. Apple currently holds the majority of the tablet market, and Flash for mobile devices isn’t drawing in positive reviews.

So far, Adobe’s Flash for mobile devices doesn’t seem to be living up to expectations, and in some cases isn’t even available on tablets where it was promised. The iPad may eventually lose its top spot in the market to the combined offerings on Google’s Android platform, but it doesn’t seem likely that Flash will be a major player in that game.