By Jennifer Farley

Adobe Answers Back: The Web Is For Everybody

By Jennifer Farley

As you know, for months now Adobe and Apple have been having a verbal spat over the use of Flash on the iPhone and iPad devices. This morning on the Adobe site there is as an editorial piece about openness, innovation and Flash. On their site, Adobe talk about how PostScript® and PDF changed design and publishing, and Flash is now doing the same. They are currently working on the Open Screen Project in partnership with Google, Research In Motion, and other companies to make the web as we know it (which includes Flash) available on any mobile device.


The banner Adobe are waving on their site.

Also on the site this morning is an open letter from Chuck Geschke and John Warnock, the co-founders of Adobe. In the letter they say,

We believe that consumers should be able to freely access their favorite content and applications, regardless of what computer they have, what browser they like, or what device suits their needs. No company — no matter how big or how creative — should dictate what you can create, how you create it, or what you can experience on the web.

They go on to explain how by publishing the specs for Flash anyone can make their own Flash player.

We believe that Apple, by taking the opposite approach, has taken a step that could undermine this next chapter of the web — the chapter in which mobile devices outnumber computers, any individual can be a publisher, and content is accessed anywhere and at any time.

In the end, we believe the question is really this: Who controls the World Wide Web? And we believe the answer is: nobody — and everybody, but certainly not a single company.

It’s hard not to agree with Adobe, at this point Apple are losing friends and are starting to look like a big bad ogre. Of course it’s personal choice which mobile device you want to use, but I would like the ability to see the web in it’s full glory, even if it means occasionally pressing the “Skip” button on an over the top Flash splash screen.

And the debate rumbles on.

  • Louis Simoneau

    It’s funny how that first blockquote can be taken as meaning the exact opposite of what they’re trying to say.

    • Alésio

      +1 that’s exactly what i taught ^^!

    • Fail to see what you mean?

  • tiggsy

    I agree with Jennifer. Seems like Apple would get on well with Murdoch, who is about to try and get people to pay to read his papers online (Good luck there, mate)

  • Choice is good. I like custom stuff, whatever bits and pieces I choose. Samsung monitor, Logitech speakers, Microsoft keyboard, mouse and operating system, Intel CPU, Nvidia Graphics card. Any game I want. Creative Zen mp3 player that can play any format. Firefox, flash plugin, bing homepage. Choice is brilliant.

  • Anonymous

    I’m with Adobe. Apple are going backwards for one reason – MONEY !!!! – If Apple build good enough Apps, devices and services at competitive prices the customers will come – I hate the eliteism they promote – and I hate the inflated prices even more (especially in the UK).

    • I’m not bothered with the cost so much…. I’ve built lots of decent computers over the years and have had to shell out the money for video cards, monitors, sound cards and ram. When I switched to Mac, I was happy to pay for my shiny new Apple computer and I was happy to buy an iTouch too. What I’m not particularly pleased about is someone deciding that they would govern the software that would run on it.

    • tim

      Yeah, Adobe is not interested in money at all. In fact, I heard they don’t even care if they make a profit on CS5 or not. They are actually planning on making it all open source and giving it away for free. That’s what I heard anyway. ;)

  • adampetrie

    I can’t help but think that both Adobe and Apple are preaching the same open ideals despite the fact that they oppose each other.
    On the one hand, Mr. Jobs seems to have been right regarding Flash player and mobile devices ( while Adobe has a strong point in that Apple’s app-store is one of the most restrictive environments on the web.
    Truthfully I don’t necessarily think either company is completely right or wrong, but rather just competing to maintain or increase their market share. I believe the only way for the web to win is to remain neutral over the whole thing. That way no single approach wins out and both side of the table will be forced to innovate to further their agendas.

  • onerob

    “In the end, we believe the question is really this: Who controls the World Wide Web? And we believe the answer is: nobody — and everybody, but certainly not a single company.”

    Who controls Flash?

    • Adelante

      There are numerous pieces of software that can create Flash content, not all from Adobe just as there are numerous flash players and quite a few open source. Have a look on the web.

      I agree websites that are totally flash based are a bad thing but Flash can be useful for video, animated banners, slide shows etc…

      I don’t think Adobe is the ogre here.

    • shmlco

      Precisely. Who brags about the fact that 98% of all “rich” internet content flows through their proprietary browser plugin?

      Adobe is the monopoly here, and they’re intent on spreading Flash across as many platforms as possible.

      As to the comment about there being “numerous” Flash open source players… hogwash. None are fully compatible with the latest “standard”, none have the certificates needed to play encrypted streams, and all of them combined probably amount to less than half a percent of the installed base.

  • mwistrand

    Apple are shooting themselves in the foot, it seems. According to AdMob (, Android has now passed the iPhone in U.S. traffic, and when other companies come out with their own iPad-like machines, it probably won’t be too long before those machines become more popular than the iPad. If Apple continue to “dictate what you can create, how you create it, or what you can experience on the web,” people will probably turn toward devices that aren’t so limiting.

  • bradleyjond

    I’ve been seeing this a lot lately. I’m not sure where this common grammatical error got started, but it just makes you sound silly. Please edit this article.
    “…Adobe TALKS about how PostScript® and PDF…”
    “The banner THAT Adobe IS waving on their site.”
    “…at this point Apple IS losing friends and IS starting to look like a big bad ogre.”
    A company name is referring to a single group. That’s the whole point of the name. All of the many parts fly under that one name, making it a single unit.
    You could say Dr. Charles M. Geschke, Dr. John E. Warnock, and Shantanu Narayen ARE in charge of Adobe, but Adobe IS made up of many people.
    Many ARE, but a single group IS. Tell your friends.

    • stacye

      I’m glad I wasn’t the only one troubled by this.

    • So because a police force is a single unit, should we say the police is looking for a suspect?

      Collective nouns use plural verbs in traditional English. It is American English that has grown lax with singular/plural agreement. Like ending a sentence with a preposition, it’s a rule that will probably be tossed aside in favor of the vernacular, but I don’t think Sitepoint should be criticized as wrong for using grammar that is technically accurate.

  • AdrianJMartin

    But it not just about the OTT splash screens – most of my CPU seem to be taken by Flash advertising for awful crap I don’t want or need.

    • I agree with you. There is an awful lot of rubbish on sites, but it is frustrating when you go to a site on your iphone and you get a message about needing Flash player or else a blank square on the screen. We need a Flash filter methinks.

  • bradleyjond

    If you want to do it your way, you should change the title to “Adobe Answer Back: The Web Are For Everybody”

  • Jimmi

    So far Adobe has only produced a video demo of Flash Player on Nexus One.

    That’s the real problem.

    Apple introduced iPhone in 2007, now 3 years later they still can’t put Flash Player on it, even if they wanted to.

    Why is Adobe getting a free pass on that?

    This situation is a perfect example why one company’s technology should not be allowed to become such an essential part of the web.

  • Jeremy

    I’m sorry, but Farley you are being either really naive or really ignorant here: “They go on to explain how by publishing the specs for Flash anyone can make their own Flash player.”

    So what? Anyone can make a Flash player THAT CONFORMS EXACTLY TO ADOBE’s SPECIFICATIONS. There is absolutely no choice or openness in that. One company controlling a standard is in fact the direct opposite of an open and free web.

    Until Adobe open sources Flash, everything they say is just PR bullcrap.

    P.S. For the record, the same is true about almost everything Apple says too. This issue is the ONLY one I side with Apple on (and Apple’s only on the right side because they’re in a losing position; you can bet that if they controlled Flash their and Adobe’s roles would be reversed).

    • mech7

      Like w3c does such a good job at pioneering the web? look at the mess we are in now… finally its going forward again step by very little step.

  • jbranson

    iPad and iPhone users are getting a raw deal because of Apple’s refusal to run Flash. The days of the gawdy Flash splash screen have long since gone ( circa 1990’s) but funny how that’s what many people remember today.

    This video shows Flash sites running on a Google Android Nexus One

    Looks pretty good to me. What’s the fuss Apple?

    • Yeah, the arguments for hating flash because of ads and intro pages is very dated. If you don’t like ads or intros that’s not flash, that’s what web developers are building with flash. The video you provide is a brilliant example of what flash can do today. Some good examples I like are:

      Both developed with Flex, web applications and Flash go great together. HTML and CSS just don’t have the power that web applications need today, tomorrow and for the years ahead.

      It’s not 1999 any more, it’s not 2005 any more, it’s 2010. Flash haters need new arguments. The web not being open didn’t stop the previous 15 years of web development, it’s not going to stop the next 15 years either.

      • shmlco

        I open up a bunch of browser windows and tabs on common main-stream web sites. Processor runs at 15-20%.

        I go and turn off plugins, and the processor drops down to 5-8%. Same thing happens if I enable plugins, but run with ClickToFlash.

        A 15% drop in processor utilization on my MacBook Pro equates to an extra HOUR of battery life. And all because I turned off a bunch of Flash-based “rich” advertising.

        It may be dated, but it’s still true, nonetheless….

  • FleckerMan


    A corporation is an Entity, like a person… it is not a group of people. It has it’s own goals, desires, aims, and adjectives that can be used to describe it that are independent of it’s parts, or the sum of them…

    Language only has meaning in the interpretation of society; For all the good that dictionaries and grammar rules do in normalising language and aiding communication, language still evolves, and should be allowed to. This idea that an authority dictates what words mean and how they should be used is simply untrue, and will never be the case.

    Dictionaries and grammar rules standardise and aid communication, but they don’t tell us what words mean… Language changes, get used to it. :)

    [I can’t get my login working, sorry]

    • Yes, but people follow up “Apple is” by saying “they are”. They continue to view them as a plural collective; the use of the singular is no more than casual sentence construction.

      Grammar rules may not be the immutable word of law, but I think their efforts to eliminate singular-plural confusion deserve better than they receive here.

  • The history of computing has shown us several times that platform and process are ultimately irrelevant – it’s content that matters.

    If Adobe are serious about openness on the web, why doesn’t Flash produce and consume an open format?

  • Flash haters need new arguments.

    Yeah, and perhaps they’d come up with some if the old ones weren’t still true :-P

    • Really? I spend perhaps 8 or 10 hours on the internet (mon-fri) either building, testing or researching and I must be filtering it out because I haven’t seen an annoying preloader or repeating splash page for ages. I’m not saying they aren’t out there but I just can’t remember the last time I saw one. I do know it was more than five years ago and it might be closer to ten.

      • Try company websites for architects and specifiers. There are more bulky Flash-only sites than not.

      • WTFrank

        I still see a lot of repeating splash pages on photography and real estate sites. I am seeing more of those sites starting to incorporate the same thing into the header.

        When done well, they’re effective for that market.

        That said, they don’t need to be dependent on Flash to offer the animations. I have several customers that are offering alternatives for the iPhone browser since their metrics support that.

  • LastOneIn

    Apple is building a “planned community” for their customers. If you don’t like “Home Owner Association” fees, don’t move there. But don’t hate them for having a plan.

  • willthiswork

    “Apple is building a “planned community” for their customers. If you don’t like “Home Owner Association” fees, don’t move there. But don’t hate them for having a plan.”

    Clap! Clap! Is this fluff your own, or is it the new Job’s verb that will be spammed all over the mac-nuts blogosphere in the next few hours?
    Calling haters anyone who criticize will only generate more criticism.

  • RE grammar: Bear in mind that “they” is also used to mean “he or she” – because English doesn’t have a gender-neutral third-person singular pronoun. Singulars and collectives are often used interchangeably, sometimes deliberately and sometimes casually, and I don’t think we should get bogged down in that — the important thing with language is to be understood; grammar only serves as a mechanism or that, not an end in itself.

    RE anti-flash sentiment: we don’t see many flash spash-pages anymore, no, but we see more flash advertising than ever, and it’s just as annoying as ever. To me it’s an example of how flash is abused. Flash itself is not to blame for that, but that doesn’t mean you can’t critisize it — heroin is not to blame for junkies, but it’s still illegal.

  • I believe the future of the web and computing as a whole is all going to be derived from web applications and I really do not see Flash being any part of it.

    The web has been slow to evolve because of browser limitations, but we are seeing an end to this. Maintaining flash as a web technology is hindering the progress of the web, lets say goodbye to flash and hello to a free and open web using HTML 5.

    Adobe quit your whining and develop a program to create amazing animations and effects with HTML 5.

    90% of the flash I see can readily be replaced with some good old jQuery.

    I dont really like the whole Apple product scene, but I am glad someone with a bit of punch is supporting web standards. Imagine if Microsoft would follow suit.

  • Robert A.

    I love freedom of choice too, that’s why I support Apple in exercising their freedom of choice when it comes to creating their own products. Adobe is trying to inhibit that with their lawsuits.
    Adobe really does nothing for its developers; Flash apps can be decompiled with ease and to even create one you need to spend $699 for Flash Pro and be forced (opposite of ‘freedom of choice’) to install bloatware (Bridge, etc.) along with it.
    And the new Adobe Help is a terrible AIR app that made me decide to not even bother creating AIR apps.
    The only good thing about Flash is that it’s better than Java…BFD.

    • What?!?!?
      The only thing I can get from your comments is that you don’t like Adobe and you don’t like Java which is fair enough as they are both complicated technologies.

      @Robert A: “Adobe really does nothing for its developers”
      Perhaps but they do actually have a developer’s network that has some value if you use it. I have found it to be useful. As a matter of fact I have found Adobe’s Developer Network to be more useful that what Apple provides (and yes I’m on a Mac).

      @Robert A: “Flash apps can be decompiled with ease and to even create one you need to spend $699 for Flash Pro and be forced (opposite of ‘freedom of choice’) to install bloatware (Bridge, etc.) along with it.”
      So what does that mean… You can decompile a Flash app with ease but then to do anything with it you need to buy Flash Pro? That just sounds confused and more to the point it’s a misinformed opinion. There are many ways to decompile edit and recompile a Flash app using other products, freeware, or shareware: SWF Maker, Swish, or Open Source –

      • Robert A.

        Those were seperate points.

        Flash apps can easily be decompiled. That’s a nightmare for developers, especially those developing online games. I can go on about how unproductive and wasteful it is for developers to remedy but there is no need.

        Flash Pro costs quite a bit, more than most people can afford these days.

        Adobe installs bloatware. They even try to install the Adobe Download Manager when getting the free Reader. Why ?

        Also, is Apple not exercising their own “freedom of choice” by not spending valuable time and resources in making crappy Flash work on their own OS ? Adobe’s argument is absurd.

        Yes, it’s true, I no longer like Adobe. Does that make my points less valid ?

    • Robert, I can’t comment, the comment that you made to my comment so hopefully this falls inline somewhere close to it and makes sense.

      I don’t have a problem with you not liking Adobe, that’s fine. I use products from a number of sources and don’t always agree with 100% of the sources mandate however, I think you’ve made some blanket statements that contradict each other.

      If the decompiling of Flash apps is a nightmare for developers, then they have a choice to make ;^)

      Flash Pro costs a lot… Again, the developer has a choice. As I mentioned earlier, Flash Pro isn’t the only way to build Flash apps. For better or worse there are many alternatives.

      Yes, Adobe bundles download manager with its offerings in order to streamline downloading. It actually works. Why does Apple bundle Quicktime with iTunes? Kettle –> Pot

      Apple doesn’t have to use resources to make Flash work on their platform… Adobe does and has put in the resources however Apple put up a blockade after Adobe had already committed to it and put in the time and therein lies the issue for me.

  • littlened

    Some people need to look at this from the other side of the coin. HTML5 enables sites like Google to display video without the of Flash. HTML5 also supports some kind of animations, to what extent I don’t know. Now, if say 70% of what you can do in Flash could be done in HTML5, why would you need Flash? and if you don’t need flash, why would you need to purchase the software enabling you to build flash apps? and if people didn’t by Flash development software, wouldn’t Abode lose income?

    HTML5 or another standard seems to be the way forward…but Adobe doesn’t want that…do they?

    • But what about the millions of sites in existence that have used or have been using Flash for the last 10 or 12 years to deliver their rich content? What of the sites that have invested thousands of dollars in the last couple of years to deliver a fluid user experience. I’m speaking of business sites that have used Flash to create colour swatches on paint company websites or 3d renderings of products from automobiles to sneakers.

      It comes down to more than I love/hate Apple/Adobe products. It comes down to moving forward without breaking the past.

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