Adobe Founders Fire Off Open Letter in Flash Wars

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Adobe founders, Chuck Genschke and John Warnock, have finally weighed in on their company’s feud with Apple over Flash in the form of an open letter. The two position Flash as an important part of the Internet, and suggest Apple is stifling innovation and openness by not supporting the multimedia format on some of its products.

In their open letter, Mr. Genschke and Mr. Warnock state “We believe that consumers should be able to freely access their favorite content and applications, regardless of what computer they have, what browser they like, or what device suits their needs. No company — no matter how big or how creative — should dictate what you can create, how you create it, or what you can experience on the web.”

The two go onto say “When markets are open, anyone with a great idea has a chance to drive innovation and find new customers. Adobe’s business philosophy is based on a premise that, in an open market, the best products will win in the end — and the best way to compete is to create the best technology and innovate faster than your competitors.”

Their open letter comes in response to Apple CEO Steve Jobs open letter from late April where he stated “Adobe’s Flash products are 100 percent proprietary. They are only available from Adobe, and Adobe has sole authority as to their future enhancement, pricing, etc.,” Mr. Jobs said. “While Adobe’s Flash products are widely available, this does not mean they are open, since they are controlled entirely by Adobe and available only from Adobe. By almost any definition, Flash is a closed system.”

The feud between the two companies over Flash heated up after Apple changed its rules for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad app developers to prohibit using utilities that can’t natively reference Apple APIs. That rule, although it doesn’t mention Adobe specifically, includes third-party cross-compiling tools, such as Flash CS5.

In Adobe’s case, it built support into Flash CS5 that allows developers to compile their code for multiple devices, including Apple’s iPhone. Since the compiler supports only a subset of iPhone OS features, it falls outside of Apple’s acceptable iPhone development tools.

“If developers grow dependent on third party development libraries and tools, they can only take advantage of platform enhancements if and when the third party chooses to adopt the new features,” Mr. Jobs said. “We cannot be at the mercy of a third party deciding if and when they will make our enhancements available to our developers.”

Adobe, however, thinks that Apple should allow cross-compiler based apps on its mobile devices — or more specifically, Flash content and Flash-based apps. “We believe that Apple, by taking the opposite approach, has taken a step that could undermine this next chapter of the web — the chapter in which mobile devices outnumber computers, any individual can be a publisher, and content is accessed anywhere and at any time,” Adobe’s founders said.

Adobe’s ad as it appears on Web sites like Engadget.

Along with its open letter, Adobe also launched an ad campaign on Thursday geared at fueling the grass roots effort to pressure Apple into relenting and opening the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad to Flash. The ads, which are appearing on some tech-related Web sites, push Adobe’s message that Apple shouldn’t block specific developer tools.

Apple doesn’t appear to be relenting on its position, so for now it appears that Mr. Genschke and Mr. Warnock have a lot more work to do if they hope to change Apple’s mind on Flash.

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No company ? other than Adobe ? should dictate what you can create, how you create it, or what you can experience on the web.

{Edited for Accuracy}

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

They don’t hope to change Steve’s mind. They’re just calling their shot. Notice that their message is essentially that they don’t care about Steve’s precious platform differentiators. They care about developers being able to deliver dynamic content seamlessly across platforms. It won’t be long until most iPhone fans do too.

@geoduck… I’m sorry, but how is Adobe dictating anything? Even Keynote (07 or 08) exports Flash. So I can use Apple’s Keynote to make Android optimized presos, ferchrissakes. For real.


Ah, poison pen wars.

SJ-We don’t want you. We don’t have to.

CG/JW-Please PLEASE use our product on your devices.


CG/JW-Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!!! Won’t our fans help us?

Meanwhile, major websites are already offering their content in alternative form for the devices.

Will either side flinch?

Stay tuned for the next episode of “Chicken-Tech” or “Gone in a Flash”.


Hello Adobe, are you there? Move on. Flash is old crap. Nobody uses flash anymore to create serious sites. Flash was not created for touch. Flash is slow and crashes. Flash drains battery. Flash sucks CPU. Why should we want flash? To see advertising? Move on. Instead of engaging in lost wars, focus your attention to improve your packages that, btw, are crappy as hell.

Dean Lewis

The best way Adobe could fight back is to fix their product. If they finished the mobile device betas and stopped the CPU overuse, then Apple and, now, many other companies including Microsoft wouldn’t have an argument anymore. If the companies then kept Flash off their devices Adobe might have a point. Until then, those companies have a perfect right to move ahead with other tech, ban Flash from their devices, and let the market that Adobe is so fond of talking about work just fine.


I’ve been around long enough to recall that good web development when using technologies like Flash, was always to provide an alternate (html version) for folks who for whatever reason couldn’t or chose not to use Flash. Problem is that web developers got lazy and started assuming that the world likes Flash. There were many sites that I wanted to access, but because they used Flash and I was on a slow corporate connection, I just couldn’t. The pages took forever to load.

As a web developer, I have a responsibility to my client to make sure that the website is available to their intended audience. Maybe they don’t care about mobile visitors or other visitors who don’t use Flash. Fine, that’s their choice. Most of my clients want to reach their maximum audience. That is why I create sites that are tested to work in IE6 and newer, along with modern browsers and why I generally stay away from Flash. The alternative would be to develop alternate sites, which adds to the cost of creation and maintenance.


How about this:  Adobe?  FIX Flash.  Make it new.  Make it work with touch screens.  Make it fast and reliable.  Make it not drain your battery so quickly.  Make it not run your CPU so much.  I promise you, Adobe, if you fix Flash, Apple will enable it.  Just fix it!!


I about choked on my lucnh while reading this.  Adobe wants open markets and products that work on any platform?  Wow it would have been nice to see that commitment to some of their Mac apps - I’m looking at you, Flash, Premeire and Creative Studio.

From a Web developer perspective, their claims are obnoxious since one doesn’t have to use Flash to view the Web.  In fact the contrary exists, to view Flash content on the Web you must have Flash installed, and the whole point of the Web is openness.  Write your site in Flash and you’re site is immediately closed.  It’s like navigating the Web through AOL.

Then I realized that maybe Adobe has a point when it comes to compiling Flash apps into iPhone apps.  This is a thornier issue and I admit maybe, just maybe, Adobe has a point.


They care about developers being able to deliver dynamic content seamlessly across platforms.

They can already deliver dynamic content seamlessly across platforms with JavaScript and CSS.  Game, set, match.

It won?t be long until most iPhone fans do too.

It’s been 3 years since the iPhone came out and I don’t see any iPhone users clamoring for Flash.  None.  Nada.  I’m sure I could find a few if I did a Google search, but my point still stands. 

And even if they did, Adobe doesn’t have a mobile version of Flash that can play most post-Flash 6 content. 

Adapt or die, Bosco.


No company ? other than Adobe ? should dictate what you can create, how you create it, or what you can experience on the web.

{Edited for Accuracy}

Ha! That has to be the most accurate summary a guy could think of. Good one, Geoduck.

Anyway, I find it pretty damn hypocritical that Adobe spent a decade+ dragging their feet on developing their products for the Mac, and the one time Apple puts their foot down they cry fowl.

If anyone here is interested in a well-written take on why Adobe has been doing wrong in recent years, I highly recommend reading this piece.

Perhaps John Warnock and Chuck Genschke should spend more time roaming the halls at Adobe than stewing over what Apple has decided what isn’t the best option for their gear.


What’s truly hypocritical about Adobe’s actions here is the claim of wanting things to be open, for their proprietary format!

Listen up Adobe… FLASH SUCKS admit it already and get off your asses and spend the money to make it work on the devices you want it to run on!  And, if you honestly believe your proprietary format is “open”, then either donate it to the open source movement, or buy the swampland in Nevada that I’ll sell you… cheap!  Oh, and that bridge in Brooklyn too… I’ll sell you that cheap too!

Stop being such a bunch of whining, two faced cry babies and deal with it!  You created this situation, you have no one to blame but yourselves.


I promise you, Adobe, if you fix Flash, Apple will enable it.

Not any more, they won’t. This might have been true 3 years ago, if Adobe had been quick of the mark with a flash client.  But Apple’s issue with flash isn’t fundamentally performance; it’s that they don’t want an alternative (lowest common denominator) API/runtime between Apple and developers.

cry fowl

“foul” (the appeal is to a referee, not a farmer)

But currently, Adobe’s position is laughable:

?We believe that consumers should be able to freely access their favorite content and applications, regardless of what computer they have, what browser they like, or what device suits their needs. No company ? no matter how big or how creative ? should dictate what you can create, how you create it, or what you can experience on the web.?

So lets take a platform where Adobe is allowed to install flash.  Like Android.  Tell us, Adobe, how well does flash work there?


How about this:? Adobe?? FIX Flash.? Make it new.? Make it work with touch screens.?

Flash supports Touch devices just fine. This garbage that it does not is Stevoj just being moronic. Please do not simply repeat his ignorance as your own.


Notice that their message is essentially that they don?t care about Steve?s precious platform differentiators.

For someone who doesn’t care about Steve’s precious platform, they sure spend a lot of money arguing against it.


When the iPhone came out in 2007 there was no App Store, and no SDK. What Apple wanted was just a smart phone that worked, and worked well. Its main selling point was “the internet in your pocket”. Unlike former WAP-phones, and other crippled mobile browser phones, Steve wanted the iPhone to give the user “the full internet”.

Where was Adobe back then? THIS was their cue. If they had come up with a working mobile Flash player for the iPhone back then, there’s no reason why Apple wouldn’t have wanted it on the iPhone to make good on the promise of a “full internet” experience on the iPhone.

But Adobe didn’t care about making Flash run on smart phones. Heck, they hardly even cared about making Flash run on Macs!

The iPhone went on to become a runaway succes, and more importantly it spawned a whole new industry of iPhone-wannabes.
That’s when Adobe realized their mistake. They hadn’t gotten on that train in time, and now it was leaving without them. More than 85 million iPhones and iPod Touches have been sold, none of them running Flash. That’s when Adobe woke up and smelled the cofffee. However it’s too late now. The train has left the station.
The iPhone has proved that people don’t need Flash on their smart phone, and for each iPhone sold, Adobe has a harder and harder time convincing us that Flash is a must.

Adobe, Flash has become irrelevant on smart phones, and you only have yourself to blame for it. Now suck it up, and start making HTML5 editing tools.


Flash supports Touch devices just fine.

Oh, so Mike Chambers is the expert here.  I can also respond with “Please do not simply repeat his ignorance as your own.”  So some guy on a blog is the expert.  OK.  So Mr. Chambers says there are, like, WOW, “already hundreds of Flash based content online created for touch devices…”

Wow, hundreds.  OK, so excuse my generalization of “make it work with touch screens.”  Since there are hundreds of examples out there, depending on what version you are using and what pages are updated to reflect this.  So I admit I am wrong.  Go enjoy your hundreds of pages…


@RonMacGuy Are you always this childish when your shown to be wrong? I mean Mike Chambers is an expert on flash capabilities-he’s the Principal Product Manager for developer relations for the Flash Platform. He’s shown along with other Adobe guys videos of the flash player 10.1 on android and webOS working with already existing content working fast with touch as the input vs a mouse.

You got called on promoting a lie, proven wrong, grow up and take it.


Just having some fun with it, Ethan.  In the most literal sense, I am wrong.  There, I can admit that.  But in actuality you are talking about such a small sample set here, you might as well say it doesn’t work.  We all know the computer world changes constantly.  But my point is still valid - for the most part, unless carefully orchestrated with the latest and greatest technology, flash does not work in general with touch screens on the majority of web sites currently utilizing flash.  There are tons of articles that back up my comments.  My main point was that flash does not work in general with touch technology on most of the flash sites out there without requiring a rewrite.  But it is easy for you to sit there and call Steve Jobs (and RonMacGuy) ignorant.  I beg to differ, though.



Ethan, are you saying that Apple and Jobs are wrong (or ignorant) when they say the following?  I sincerely doubt that they are.

“Flash was designed for PCs using mice, not for touch screens using fingers. For example, many Flash websites rely on ?rollovers?, which pop up menus or other elements when the mouse arrow hovers over a specific spot. Apple?s revolutionary multi-touch interface doesn?t use a mouse, and there is no concept of a rollover. Most Flash websites will need to be rewritten to support touch-based devices. If developers need to rewrite their Flash websites, why not use modern technologies like HTML5, CSS and JavaScript?

Even if iPhones, iPods and iPads ran Flash, it would not solve the problem that most Flash websites need to be rewritten to support touch-based devices.”

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Ironic as it may seem Ron, Flash was initially designed for tablets with touch interfaces. So yes, Steve Jobs and Apple are lying in their first assertion. It goes downhill from there.


Jobs is being political and possibly ignorant as I don’t think he does much programming these days. Just because there is no hover in touch does not mean that you can not still tap your finger on a flash button in a swf that is setup for onClick or onMouseDown events and have it register the tap. The OS sends out the event (and the hover at the same time) and the Flash player consumes that event and reroutes it to the traditional listeners in the code.

Now if there is a fly out menu under a hover event - like thousands of html websites out there then you may have a navigational issue. That is not Flash specific - this happens in straight html in safari mobile browser. So Steve was highlighting it as a con for flash but does not bother to mention that html in mobile safari suffers from the same thing-purely political.

I laugh as he is doing the same thing he did back when I bought my 500mhz g4 blue tower-against all reality he made me believe that my graphics apps would run faster on the risc platform than intel’s cisc. I believed and I was stupid. the intel chips where so much faster with longer pipelines that they smoked the g4 chip no matter how much it got done per cpu cycle. He admitted this a few years later when we switched to Intel chips. Steve Jobs will tell us anything to protect the walled garden.

If apple actually worked with adobe as google, palm, and rim have they’d have a player on there now running just as fast as native. The reality is that visual multimedia content will eat up battery and cpu cycles more than static html text-that’s the cost of having multimedia. If apple allows their own software direct cpu access/deeper api access and not others then that can skew the numbers easily. Also html5/canvas/js/svg spike your cpu just as much when they start flinging around visuals in the way flash does (given there are nuances between bitmap data vs vector data etc when you benchmark).

This is not about flash performance-this is about apple wanting complete control of the eco system and how developers build content for it-via browser or native app. Say you want to make html5/js/canvas/svg interactive web app that has some pseudo 3d/vids/simulations/transparencies etc. Benefit here is you can support many platforms, browsers, devices. Well the performance eats up your iphone so your only option it to go native app which is more closed and restrictive than flash. By removing flash playerfrom the browser, Apple is just funneling all the developers into the objC/xcode chains because they know that browser apps are limited in performance when you get to the multimedia stuff. So the dev has to have one solution for iDevice and another for the rest-awesome for the bottom line. THAT is what it is ALL about-control.

I wish he’d just say it-we want to control our users, the developers, the hardware and everything else. Open to apple is what we call a cell block.

couple of links: you can see this demo


Guys, I won’t pretend to know as much about Flash as you.  But I highly doubt first of all that Steve Jobs wrote the Apple “Thoughts on Flash” comments on the Apple web page (anymore than the US President writes his own speeches).  I also doubt that they are flat out lying in their comments.  It may be stretching the truth, but I am sure the Adobe page is also stretching the truth.  The end result is there is no flash on my iPad.  Do I miss it?  At times.  Can I live without it?  Sure.  I am sure you guys can argue the reliability, security, performance, battery life, and other shots that Apple takes at Adobe, just like you are about the touch issue.  Whatever.  But until you can show me a cell phone (or tablet PC) that runs Flash without crashing, can access every Flash-enabled site out there, and do so in an efficient, secure, and battery-saving manner, your comments mean nothing to me.  If Flash was so great, it would be on EVERY SINGLE android phone right now, running and accessing every single web site out there.  The fact that it isn’t tells my it is not as great as you guys think.


Here’s an interesting article about Adobe and Flash - Just published today.

Wow, talk about Adobe flat-out lying about Flash’s vulnerabilities…

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Hi Ron,

Steve Jobs has a track record of lying about technical reasons for his iPhone decisions.


Bosco, anyone can say that “Steve Jobs says this” or “Steve Jobs says that.”  Doesn’t mean it’s true, or that it is being quoted correctly.  I love how the link that supposedly ties to a newsweek article that quoted Jobs goes to an empty page.

Hasn’t your mother told you not to believe everything you read on the internet?


?foul? (the appeal is to a referee, not a farmer)

Note that comment came in response to a guy with the screen name, “Geoduck”. raspberry

But I highly doubt first of all that Steve Jobs wrote the Apple ?Thoughts on Flash? comments on the Apple web page

Given Jobs’ history for being very hands-on about anything he’s involved in, I think the opposite is true for the most part. He probably got some feedback on the technical comments and had a lawyer read it over, but in my estimation that’s about it.


I am still mad at Adobe for dropping Mac support for FrameMaker, quite leaving aside their customer disservice, which runs neck and neck with Microsoft’s for sheer horror. Transferring an Adobe license from one user to another earlier this year took 8 months. Maybe when they learn to run a company, they can criticize others. Until then…

I have the greatest respect for what Geschke and Warnock achieved. I have zero respect for the marketroids who destroyed it, thinking only of the quarterly results and their resulting mega-bonuses.

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