Two weeks ago, Steve Jobs published a withering memo explaining why Apple has prevented Adobe’s Flash technology from arriving on the iPhone in any form. Today, Adobe is responding in a big way. The company has launched an ad campaign in print and on the Web with an accompanying Web portal addressing Jobs’ points about Flash’s openness, security, performance, and compatibility.
Adobe’s response doesn’t match the blunt specificity of Jobs’ piece. The ads say that Adobe loves Apple (sadly, it seems to be unrequited–but it’s an improvement over “Go screw yourself, Apple“). And for the most part, its defense of Flash doesn’t address Apple’s stance head on. Except at the end of an open letter from Adobe cofounders John Warnock and Chuck Geschke:
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.
In the end, we believe the question is really this: Who controls the World Wide Web? And we believe the answer is: nobody — and everybody, but certainly not a single company.
By being specific and unvarnished, Steve Jobs brought more clarity to his case than Adobe has to date. But let’s face it: What we have here are two large companies making self-serving arguments. Curiously enough, both claim that it’s all about the interests of developers and consumers.
At this point, it all comes down to this: We already know what the iPhone and iPad are like without Flash. But Adobe’s defense of Flash on mobile devices still feels largely theoretical, since the company has failed to ship FlashPlayer on any handset to date.
Next week, it plans to release a beta of FlashPlayer 10.1 for Android to coincide with Google’s I|O developer conference. For the first time, real people will get a sense of what Flash is like on iPhone-class smartphones. It could lead to an outpouring of support for Adobe, or continued damage to Flash’s reputation. Either way, it’s going to be fascinating–and far more satisfying than watching gigantic corporations sling accusations around.