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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!

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