Flash Delirium: Apple Takes On Adobe

This time, it's personal

It's always tough when neighbors fight.

Here in Silicon Valley, we're famous for our Hatfield v. McCoy-like battles. Oracle and Microsoft, Apple and Microsoft, Sun and Microsoft, Yahoo and Google, Apple and Google and now, Apple and Adobe. It's on, and it's personal.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs posted an open letter to the world about why he, and his company, will not use Adobe's Flash technology on the iPad and iPhone. He titled it, simply, "Thoughts on Flash."

For my money, this is actually helpful. Having been testing the iPad around Silicon Valley for a few weeks now, one of the questions I hear most often is, "why isn't Flash on this?"  And, now, we have an answer.

According to Jobs, Flash is just not reliable enough, not secure enough, and gosh darn it, just uses too much battery power. He touts another video platform, HTML5, as a viable alternative. To his credit, popular companies like YouTube and Netflix are already streaming video over the iPad. To his detriment, plenty of otherwise happy Apple users point out that something close to 75 percent of web video uses the Flash platform.

So, where do we go from here?

These are two companies with a very deep history.  When Apple was struggling early on, products like Adobe Photoshop helped make the Mac cool. Once the Mac took off, it brought many Adobe products along with it. But Jobs is adamant, posting that Flash is  "the number one reason Macs crash," and that when it comes to solid Flash performance, "we have never seen it."

For it's part, Adobe says it's working with Apple on a solution. That's probably a good idea. As many in the tech industry (and now even The Daily Show) are starting to notice, Apple is starting to act like the corporate giant it's become. But there's also precedent for the industry to follow the leader, and in this case, it's clearly Apple. If Adobe doesn't get its peace pipe up to Cupertino soon, it may find itself trying to sell a technology whose time already came and went. In a Flash.

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