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  • Yes, Adobe Can Survive Without Flash

    June 1st, 2010

    After crying the blues to the government that big bad Apple won’t let them pollute the iPad and iPhone with Flash, Adobe has finally demonstrated to one and all that they can actually survive anyway.

    So is anyone surprised?

    According to published reports, Adobe has created a new digital publishing platform for magazines for the iPad, using Apple’s Objective-C, so the apps will be acceptable to Apple. The first demonstration of this new technology is available in the iPad edition of Wired magazine, which, despite its $4.99 purchase price per issue, is reportedly sitting at or near the top of the charts at the App Store.

    Yes, Objective-C. Originally, Wired had planned to use Adobe’s Flash to iPhone conversion tools, but since Apple gave that approach the heave-ho, Adobe evidently went back to the drawing board and found a workable solution that, in fact, supports Apple’s methodology. Can you believe that?

    You might not believe this, but Adobe wants us all to know that ditching Flash for Wired’s iPad app is actually a good thing. According to David Burkett, vice president and general manager of Creative Solutions for Adobe: “Adobe’s work with Wired has resulted in a digital magazine format that creates an immersive experience, allowing a publication’s unique content, look and feel and advertising to stand out in the digital realm. We aim to make our digital viewer software available to all publishers soon and plan to deliver versions that work across multiple hardware platforms. It’s safe to say that if you are already working in InDesign CS5, you’ll be well on your way to producing a beautiful digital version of your publication.”

    Of course, you can find hypocrites at lots of companies. Adobe is doing what’s necessary to preserve a customer, Condé Nast, publishers of Wired and other magazines, and get their content onto the iPad without suffering the wrath of Apple.

    Now understand that it’s only been a few weeks since Apple announced iPhone 4.0 and those controversial restrictions against using third party tools to build iPhone apps. But it didn’t take long for Adobe to find another solution.

    Adobe, of course, had no choice. Apple isn’t going to relent, and the iPad, even without Flash, has sold two million units and counting in the first 60 days, even though the chances of finding the model you want at your local Apple Store, Best Buy, or an Apple dealer in the other countries in which the iPad is available, are slim to none.

    If Apple could meet that demand, how many more units they have sold? Another 100,000? More? Can you even guess? That’s why I suggested yesterday that the iPad is going to equal or exceed the sales of new Macs right out of the starting gate. There are also surveys showing that more and more people are planning to buy one in the business world, so the sky’s the limit.

    In any case, since Adobe clearly knows how survive within the confines imposed by Apple, you have to wonder what they might do about Flash. They’ve already issued an update offering extra HTML5 capability for their Dreamweaver Web authoring app, so they are clearly seeing the handwriting on the wall, even if it takes a few years before the growing saturation of Apple mobile products makes use of the aging Flash technology unproductive.

    Of course, Apple’s critics don’t see it that way. According to some online commentators, the lack of Flash means that Apple “is the new AOL and new Microsoft,” and is forcing you to experience the Internet within a “walled garden.”

    Walled garden?

    Now let’s be clear. AOL in its heyday was a decidedly different breed of cat. At first, your online access was limited to AOL’s home-grown content and you couldn’t even email people outside the service. The ability to access Internet email, the Web and other features was added slowly, haltingly, often using primitive add-ons that made the process torturous.

    Only in its last days as a proprietary service did AOL begin to offer anything resembling a decent browser, first based on Mozilla’s Gecko engine and now Apple’s WebKit.

    But Apple resides in a different universe. Apple isn’t blocking Internet access, just Flash. The Safari browser on your iPhone and iPad use the same open source rendering engine as the browsers used by Google, Palm, Nokia and, soon, RIM for the BlackBerry.

    Yes, I suppose they can say you’re in a walled garden because of those often-arbitrary restrictions on apps, but with over 200,000 selections, the few that have been rejected don’t seem to have made much of a difference for the vast majority of Apple’s customers.

    And if Adobe wants to show up Apple, all they have to do is demonstrate a version of Flash on an iPhone or iPad that meets Apple’s objections. Is that so hard to do? Evidently, because even the version of Flash that’s being shown on the next version of Google’s Android OS is a buggy piece of garbage. Adobe may be dragged into the future kicking and screaming, but they have no choice but to learn how to handle the truth.

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