Adobe tech chief likens Apple to 19th century railroad

Apple Inc.'s recent competitive behavior is similar to that of a 19th century railroad company, Adobe Systems Inc.'s top technology executive said Wednesday.

"Apple's playing this strategy where they want to create a walled garden" around the Internet, Adobe Kevin Lynch remarked at a tech conference in San Francisco. He then compared the company's moves to the deployment in the 1800s of railways with varying gauges that precluded compatibility with those of rivals.

"If you look at what's going on right now, it's kind of like railroads in the 1800s," Lynch said.

Apple and Adobe have been engaged in an escalating war of words over the effective banning of Adobe's on popular Apple products such as the iPhone and iPad.

Apple recently issued a requirement that software for its and iPad devices cannot be written in Flash, a ubiquitous Adobe program used on Internet sites and services.

, Apple's chief executive, took the unusual step of airing his criticisms of Flash in a long essay posted on a company Web site last week.

Adobe responded by dropping its investment in making Flash compatible with the Apple devices, saying it will focus instead on platforms such as Inc.'s Android operating system.

"I don't think it's the role of the company to exercise that judgment over what people are making," Lynch said to a smattering of applause, while charging that Apple's practices are "preventing healthy competition."

Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller referred to her previous comments on the issue, stating that Apple uses "open and standard" technologies, while Flash "is closed and proprietary." Muller also referred to Jobs' comments, calling Flash dated and unreliable.

Federal antitrust regulators reportedly are looking at Apple's rules for development on its devices, and may launch an investigation.

A prototype Adobe tablet running on Android was displayed at the technology conference; it included Flash and featured an internal hardware composition developed by Nvidia Corp.

"We're working closely with them to optimize the software and hardware integration," Lynch said of Nvidia.

"That's a prototype, but there are a bunch of different manufacturers using those guts," he commented, adding that a number of related tablet devices are likely to be released in the coming months.

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Why can't Apple and Adobe just get along?

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User comments

May 06, 2010
The editorial of this article states: "Flash, a ubiquitous Adobe program used on Internet sites and services". This is not true, but the proponents woul like you to believe it. I guess if you work in marketing then Flash may seem to be ubiquitous. For many of us (I suspect most), it carries annoying messages we'd rather not hear.

Microsoft's Internet Explorer is now feeling the pinch of not observing internet open standards in market share.

I would say that Steve Jobs is doing a service to open software and standards.... and "the rest of us".

Just my view on this.

May 06, 2010
one meaning of ubiquitous is 'widely present'. Flash is certainly that. As for Apple's dising of it, I'm not sure its a wise move. Whatever Apple's reasons, Im sure 'doing a service' is not the primary one, regardless of Flash's characteristics. In other words, I dont know if we'd be better off with or without flash, but I know that has little to do with Apple's actions. It's a bit scary to Apple shareholders that the company would be so defiant on this issue.

May 07, 2010
Funny, that Adobe looking over the wall at Apple while they sit in their own "Walled Garden". Every release of Creative Suite by Adobe is a new gauge of track laid down every year to year and a half. Massive investment for businesses to upgrade site licensees for the minor tweaks to the interface and some added filters/functions that never work like their oooh.. ahhh.. videos. If your a service bureau then you are forced to upgrade for that 1 client that buys just 1 new Adobe app. I am an Apple user and am disgusted with the Interface Adobe has now set up for OSX machines in all of their applications. I spend more time adjusting windows to do my job then I spend actually working on my projects. Another thing is that Adobe still does not support full 64 bit processing. I understand why Apple is not happy. Personally I hate seeing the Adobe products going the way of Quark Express. I wish there were other alternatives to Adobe products...

May 07, 2010
Flash games.

Apple isn't gonna let it's app store die.

May 07, 2010
Adobe's making a strange argument here. They're attacking Apple on the *standards* front!

Adobe is the odd standard out. They are fighting to keep everybody using their proprietary 'gauge railroad', when there's a competing standard that has all the other railroads and rail-car designers on board.

Where their analogy falls down is that nobody is even allowed to use Adobe's 'gauge' or to build for that 'gauge' unless they pay Adobe for it.

So Adobe's argument is effectively: 'Don't use the free standard that everybody else wants to move to, keep using our standard and keep paying us for it'.

Fairly weak argument.

May 07, 2010
Flash is Trash. Click to play ONLY, please. The single most annoying thing on the internet. The single thing which will make me scroll or move to another site. I'm surprized there aren't more grand mal seizures out there as a result of this visual interference. We need a law that flash can't auto play, via an easy to use PC setting, requiring one to click to play. What a horror in the surfing experience. Good work, Mr. Jobs. Thank you.

May 07, 2010
So Apple the makers of the PC that cannot be upgraded, the PC that all the smug jackholes in coffee shops use, the PC that makes those ridiculous commercials flaming every other computer on the market and the one that nobody makes games for isn't supporting flash? WELL WHOOPIEDEEDOO!!!

May 08, 2010
Apple dictates what you can and can't program for the iPhone. Adobe doesn't care what you program for Flash. The comparison between Flash and HTML5 is a straw man. The truer comparison would be between Flash apps and iPhone apps. iPhone apps, more open than Flash? Not in your wildest dreams. You're not even allowed to create them using a PC. In Apple's walled garden you are either IN or OUT - the fence extends upward forever and there is but one door.

May 09, 2010
Adobe is typical of other software companies that become an industry standard and subsequently a dinosaur waiting for a meteor strike. Like Microsoft and Autodesk. Their software sucks because they have no competition incentive to make their software the best it can be. I don't know about flash but Acrobat Professional and the PDF standard are aggravating POS's, likewise anything Microsoft and the same for AutoCAD.

May 09, 2010
So Apple the makers of the PC that cannot be upgraded...

Yep, can't be upgraded into in unstable, unusable, constantly locking up crashing POS. What a mistake on their part, their stock must be dropping like a rock.

May 09, 2010
The issue here I don't think is about which technology is the best, or which is the most 'standard', but the fact that Apple is preventing its customers from choosing what they want to view on their own devices.

It's annoying, because Apple products are good, and they could easily be even better & more useful for the END USERS if they just stopped being such jerks and supported other companies' technologies as well.

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