It’s been a few weeks since Steve Jobs wrote his public broadside against Adobe generally and Flash in particular.
Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen countered via the Wall Street Journal, calling Apple’s technological objections to Flash “a smokescreen.”
What’s missing though is why this, why now? What’s going on that a tiff between two technology giants should become so public? Usually the war of words occurs between the fanboys on each side. Public words of attrition by respective CEO’s? Not so much.
The technologist Charles Stross provides good insight into the matter. Simply, he writes, Jobs is betting the Apple farm that the future is not just mobile, but handheld or tablet in general:
Apple are trying desperately to force the growth of a new ecosystem — one that rivals the 26-year-old Macintosh environment — to maturity in five years flat. That’s the time scale in which they expect the cloud computing revolution to flatten the existing PC industry. Unless they can turn themselves into an entirely different kind of corporation by 2015 Apple is doomed to the same irrelevance as the rest of the PC industry — interchangable suppliers of commodity equipment assembled on a shoestring budget with negligable profit. [emphasis his]
While Stross believes wired broadband is generally too expensive to improve leaps and bounds, wireless broadband isn’t and will. With 4G just around the corner and hardware becoming increasingly commoditized, Stross looks five years out to predict that the industry will be mostly mobile and mostly in the cloud. Control that cloud, or control the apps being served from it and your company has a business model. Don’t and, well, you had a nice run while it lasted.
This is where the Apple and Adobe hand to hand combat begins. It’s a turf war over the application portion of a cloud ecosystem each wishes to control.
Which brings us back to Adobe, and a new campaign that fires back at Jobs’ contention that the company creates closed, proprietary software incompatible with the future internet.
From the BBC:
Adobe has launched its latest salvo in an ongoing dispute with Apple.
The co-founders of Adobe have published an open letter in which they say that Apple threatens to “undermine the next chapter of the web”.
The software firm has also started an adverting blitz in newspapers and on popular technology news sites.
Ads like the one I captured in the video above are appearing online at sites like Wired and Techcrunch. Offline, they’re appearing in the New York Times, Washington Post and Financial Times among others.
The fun though is in the Any Letter You Can Write We Can Write Better department. Adobe co-founders Chuck Geschke and John Warnock play on Jobs’ Thoughts on Flash to pen, Our Thoughts on Open Markets.
Apple, they write, is undermining “the next chapter of the Web” by keeping their app garden closed to third party development kits. Adobe, of course, creates just such kits with Flash and Flex.
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.
The issues here are many and the irony is that while both companies are closed and proprietary, each is trying to stake their claim to the open Internet that has brought us so far.
The opening salvos have been fired. We look forward to seeing the turf wars head next.