Steve Jobs tears in to Adobe

Steve Jobs

On Thursday, Apple CEO and one of the most admired and respected executives in the world, Steve Jobs took time to write an open letter to software maker Adobe Systems Inc. The issue revolves one of Adobe’s software products, Flash which everyone uses on their computers to watch videos, play certain games and view a large number of websites. The problem is that Apple does not allow Flash to be used on the iPhone, iPod or iPad.

Apple has been receiving a lot of heat from critics and Apple users for the lack of Flash in their mobile products. It really is a downer with their products because so many websites use Flash and it makes using the internet on these mobile devices a lot less useful.

In his letter, Steve Jobs blasted the Flash software saying that it is basically an obsolete software and newer platforms are taking over due to various reasons including the battery or energy use it requires, that it was designed for a PC with a mouse and not touch screens and that Flash has a bad security track record, among other deficiencies. However, his letter, which really makes Flash and Adobe look bad, seems like it was written with just as much personal and emotional feelings as it was with technical and factual points.

It is tough to tell how damaging this letter will be to Adobe and what the eventual outcome will be with mobile internet but, in general, when a business executive makes decisions based on emotion then things usually do not work out well. Adobe said that they are working closely with Google on their mobile Android platform but, since Apple dominates this space currently, they seem to have a lot of say as to how this market will evolve. It doesn’t seem likely that Apple will adopt the Flash software in their devices so Adobe’s best hope in this market is to have Flash on every other smartphone and hopefully other smartphone makers will make good enough products to level the playing field and make Apple less influential. However, looking at the competition as it is right now, this seems highly unlikely.

Adobe Systems Inc. did not put all their eggs in the Flash basket. In fact, we use the Acrobat programs like the PDF Reader and other programs all the time. However, it is still a significant part of their business and they do not want to just let it disappear. Their success in the mobile products market is largely out of their hands and tied to the success of the other smartphone players so they are in a very tough spot.

No one knows if Apple is now done with the issue after this letter or if there will be another round in this real life tech soap opera. If there is another installment however and it’s worth mentioning, then I will follow up on it.