In an April letter posted on his company’s Website, Apple CEO Steve Jobs wrote that Adobe Flash “is the number one reason Macs crash.” Furthermore, he added, “We don’t want to reduce the reliability and security of our iPhones, iPods and iPads by adding Flash.”
Flash-forward seven months, and now Apple has actually escalated its conflict with Adobe: The company’s new MacBook Air line ships without Flash pre-installed, requiring owners to manually download the plug-in.
Apple itself is apparently framing the Flash prohibition as part of a larger effort to give users an optimized experience. In his letter, Jobs had previously damned the plug-in’s reliability, security and performance.
“We’re happy to continue to support Flash on the Mac,” Apple spokesperson Bill Evans reportedly wrote in a statement to tech blog Engadget, “and the best way for users to always have the most up-to-date and secure version is to download it directly from Adobe.”
Adobe chose to echo that message in its own statement: “As always, Adobe recommends that users download the most up-to-date version of Adobe Flash Player from Adobe.com.”
Although Jobs moved earlier this year to ban flash from Apple’s mobile devices, the company subsequently revised its iPhone Developer Program License Agreement to eliminate restrictions on development tools. Under the revised guidelines, developers can use Adobe Flash to write apps, provided the apps in question “do not download any code.”
Apple battles aside, though, Adobe seems determined to port its wares onto as many screens as possible. The company’s worldwide developer conference saw the Oct. 25 rollout of Adobe AIR 2.5 for televisions, tablets, smartphones and desktop operating systems.
“Prior to this release, AIR has been used to run apps on the desktop, but AIR 2.5 is able to support mobile apps and TVs with common frameworks and common tools,” David Gruber, group product manager for Flex and Flash Builder, told eWEEK in an interview. “Everybody wants to get into the app game.”
Adobe hasn’t been the only target of Apple’s ire in recent months. During the company’s quarterly earnings call Oct. 18, Jobs fired broadsides at both Google and BlackBerry maker Research In Motion.
“We’ve now passed RIM, and I don’t see them catching up with us in the immediate future,” Jobs told analysts and reporters on the call. “I think it’s going to be a challenge for them to create a competitive platform. . . . With 300,000 apps in Apple’s App Store, RIM has a high mountain to climb.”
As for Google, Jobs added: “We think Android is very, very fragmented, and becoming more fragmented by the day. . . . We also think that our developers could be more innovative if they can target a singular platform, rather than a hundred variants.”
If you want a sign of the increasingly vicious competition between Apple and its competitors-and how those respective sides are trying to make their products as distinct as possible from one another-observe how fervently Google and the rest tout their support for Adobe Flash, even as Apple remains ambivalent, at best, about the player.