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Adobe CTO: Flash at Important Crux

Tue, 02/02/2010 - 12:24pm
Monica Alleven

What does Adobe think of the comments reported over the weekend that Apple CEO Steve Jobs thinks Flash is too "buggy" for the iPad?

Adobe Chief Technology Officer Kevin Lynch gave some clues in a blog post today, and at least part of it seems to boil down to an open versus closed environment.

The executive notes that "we are at an important crux for the future of Flash. A wide variety of devices beyond personal computers are arriving, many of which will be used to browse the Web, making it challenging to deliver what creators and users of content and applications have come to expect of Flash on personal computers – seamless, consistent and rich experiences." He goes on to say the Flash engineering team at Adobe has taken this on with a major overhaul of the mainstream Flash Player for a  variety of devices.

As to why Flash Player is not on a "recent magical device" unveiled by Jobs last week, Lynch says Flash technology is starting to work on some devices today with stand-alone applications for the iPhone built on Flash. FickleBlox and Chroma Circuit already have apps in the App Store doing just that. "This same solution will work on the iPad as well," he says. "We are ready to enable Flash in the browser on these devices if and when Apple chooses to allow that for its users, but to date we have not had the required cooperation from Apple to make this happen."

No immediate word from Apple as to why it's not in a cooperative mood with regards to Flash, although Wired reported that Jobs made comments during a town hall-style meeting with employees last week that Flash is too "buggy," which coincides with some earlier reports on Apple's view.

While Jobs apparently believes HTML 5 is the wave of the future, there's disagreement as to how well HTML will perform in its evolution without Flash. Adobe doesn't see one excluding the other – which is the same type of point some wireless industry insiders posed years ago when the mobile world was embroiled in the BREW-versus-Java wars.

Adobe says it supports HTML and its evolution. "If HTML could reliably do everything Flash does, that would certainly save us a lot of effort, but that does not appear to be coming to pass," Lynch writes. Even in the case of video, where Flash is enabling over 75 percent of video on the Web today, the coming HTML video implementations cannot agree on a common format across browsers, "so users and content creators would be thrown back to the dark ages of video on the Web with incompatibility issues."

Lynch concludes with a shout out for the open access model – something Apple has been accused of avoiding while Google embraces it.

Adobe is on the verge of delivering Flash Player 10.1 for smartphones with pretty much everyone but Apple. Google's Android, Research In Motion's BlackBerry, Nokia, Palm Pre and others across form factors, including tablets, netbooks and Internet-connected TVs, are going down this path.

Flash in the browser provides a competitive advantage because it will enable customers to browse the whole Web, Lynch says. Adobe is working with about 50 partners in the Open Screen Project to enable Flash on a range of devices, including the Nexus One from Google.

Adobe started the Open Screen Project with industry heavyweights in 2008, with the aim of driving rich Internet experiences across mobile devices, TVs, PCs and consumer electronics.

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