Deploying Steve Jobs to assert Apple’s position against Adobe: Panic in Cupertino?

You know the Adobe/Apple issue has escalated into outright business war when Steve Jobs pens a 22 paragraph statement picking apart the Adobe position and reminding the Apple iFaithful precisely why they love the marketeer, the man, the genius that is Jobs.

The fact that Jobs has decided to post a public ‘blog’ (“Thoughts on Flash“) speaks volumes about their desire to control the message. Rarely does Apple ever actually ‘manage’ the media directly like this because most of the American sites and pundits do such a brilliant job of toeing the Apple line with little direct guidance.

But the Flash issue has (or had) the capacity to really boil over into a very ugly affair. Remember, if you will, that almost everyone related to the mobile industry in Silicon Valley has eyes for Apple. And ONLY Apple. Oh, it’s a bit cool to own a Verizon Droid or perhaps another recent HTC Android device. This makes you hip yet alternative. But everyone understands it’s all about Apple. Nokia, RIM, Samsung, Sony… are irrelevant as far as the Valley mindset goes.

But when Apple shuts the door on Adobe’s cross platform mobile initiative, a large proportion of the Valley took a second, slightly unnerved look.

Apple might has well have firebombed Adobe’s headquarters. It would have been less offensive than killing their entire mobile initiative.

Of course Adobe has a heck of a lot of interests beyond iPhone. Flash Lite, for example, is no stranger to millions of Nokia devices. But as far as the Valley is concerned, in the iCentric world, Adobe has been dealt a sucker of a blow by Apple. And that’s got quite a lot of people riled — because a heck of a lot of them are intimately familiar with Flash. A quick glance at Mobile Industry Review or Mobile Developer TV (in particular) reveals a reasonably heavy reliance on Flash. Indeed Mobile Developer TV is presented entirely via our own proprietary CDN setup (thanks to Rackspace Cloud) and Flash encoded video.

Such direct action has reminded quite a lot of people that the Emperor is stark raving naked. So much so that the Apple chaps have seen fit to roll out their number one gun. Having Jobs put his name to the note is about the most explosive option that Apple could deliver, short of putting him on primetime CNN or inviting the Silicon Valley elite to an impromptu Flash-is-shit keynote in San Francisco.

Jobs’ note is a very smart attempt to put the iFan minds at rest. His text expertly weaves a beautifully clear explanation calculated to ensure the majority of the iFans take note and buy the Apple line.

I think it’ll work for most, provided Adobe continues to sit back and stare at the wall. Adobe are toast. Jobs has made that patently clear. And unless Adobe get stuck into the debate and start calling out Jobs, it’s game over for them with the legions upon legions of iFans.

Many will be reading Jobs’ note and agreeing with his smartly argued sentiments. What iFan, previously quite content with Adobe and Flash, could fail to agree with the following statement from Jobs?

For example, although Mac OS X has been shipping for almost 10 years now, Adobe just adopted it fully (Cocoa) two weeks ago when they shipped CS5. Adobe was the last major third party developer to fully adopt Mac OS X.

Outrage! 😉

Quite simply, not supporting Flash and switching Adobe off iPad/iPhone is a very, very smart commercial move for Apple. They’re flying by the seat of their pants with the move, hence the Jobs public note and, all things being equal, it won’t be long before the (inaccurate) viewpoint shared by all who count (i.e. the Valley) is that Flash is PC era, Flash is buggy, Flash is highly irrelevant for mobile.

Goodness me it’s interesting watching this all take place on such a giant stage.

Do take a bit of time to read the Steve Jobs masterpiece. Do also take note of how it’s presented — just the familiar header, a title (“Thoughts on Flash”) and then 22-odd paragraphs. No whizzbang, no flashy(pun) graphics. Just you and Steve jobs learning all about how rubbish Flash is.


Come on Adobe. Let’s be hearing from you soon!

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

5 replies on “Deploying Steve Jobs to assert Apple’s position against Adobe: Panic in Cupertino?”


A few thoughts on Apple and Flash.

1) What took Adobe so long to fix Flash Lite in the first place and make it THE mobile defacto? Did they simply not see mobile coming and where it was headed? Had they invested in Flash Lite and made it the mobile standard years ago, this would not be happening to them. However, they just assumed everyone would come on board and they needn't do anything to the platform. I think this was a very bad decision on their part.

2) Might not the real concern with Flash on Apple's device to Apple be security concerns and what Flash opens up on the application?

3) By allowing Flash, Apple loses control over certain family settings, ie Porn, that Jobs does not want to get into. He wants his technology to be clean and not have to get into the whole adult community debate.


I read this letter with an open mind either way and I have to say he has some good points. It would be frustrating to release new feature on your platform only to find out you have to wait for Adobe to support it before users realise their device can do it.

Also the fact that most flash UIs would need to be redesigned to work without a mouse anyway.

Again Ewan I am reminded why it is I read this website! Fantastic! But can it really be that so many of the mobile related businesses in Silicon Valley are that hung up on everything Apple? I mean surely they can read a pie chart, and recognise that people outside of America use mobile phones? Right?

I am really hoping that Adobe don't just roll over and die now, that they get up and hammer back…

The Americans — and Silicon Valley in particular — has set the standard for everyone else in technology for the last 30-odd years. This, I reckon, is one of the reasons why they collectively ignore the rest of the planet. The point being that once it's defined in America then it can be exported to a willing international audience. Generally speaking, if you look at much of what the Valley has exported across the decades, this has been the story.

It's also very important to remember that, with one or two very small exceptions, the centre of mobile is now Silicon Valley. (That point itself is worth of a heck of a lot of debate!)

Ah, no, on the whole technology out of Silicon Valley to the rest of the world, I generally have no argument, although I'm thinking some people from the western rim of the Pacific could raise a few good points… And yes, a lot of debating indeed can be done over the question of Silicon Valley's place at the centre of mobile… But I can't help but feel that all this focus on one, niche, product could come back to bite them on the rump… Thanks all the same Ewan!

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