Steve Jobs: Adobe raised stink over Flash first

'Flash has had its day,' Apple CEO says

Apple CEO Steve Jobs said Tuesday that his company didn't begin the long-running feud with Adobe over Flash, but only reacted after its rival "started to raise a stink."

In an interview Tuesday night at the D8 Conference , Jobs told Wall Street Journal columnist Walt Mossberg that Apple didn't cast the first stone.

"We didn't start off to have a war with Flash, or anything else. We just made a technical decision that we weren't gonna put the energy into getting Flash on our platform," said Jobs. "We told Adobe, if you ever have this thing running fast, let us know, which they never did."

Apple decided to ban Flash from its iPhone before it introduced the first-generation smartphone in 2007, Jobs added, and told Adobe as much. Only later, claimed Jobs, did Adobe come out swinging.

"It wasn't until we shipped the iPad and it didn't use Flash that Adobe started to raise a stink about it," Jobs said. "That's why I wrote 'Thoughts on Flash,' We were trying to be real professional about this and not talk to the press. We didn't think it was a matter for the press. [But] we finally said enough is enough. We're tired of these guys trashing us in the press over this."

Jobs' hammered Flash in his April 29 missive, in which he cited several reasons for banning Adobe's popular technology, ranging from poor performance to security issues.

In the same letter, Jobs stuck to Apple's decision to also bar iPhone and iPad software created with cross-platform compilers, another point where Adobe and Apple are at odds.

Adobe's Flash Professional CS5 includes a cross-platform compiler that lets Flash developers easily create native iPhone and iPad applications, something that Apple refuses to allow. According to reports, that part of the companies' feud has attracted interest from antitrust regulators at the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission.

Yesterday, Jobs said that consumers would ultimately decide whether Apple's Flash ban was the right decision.

"Sometimes you just have to pick the things that look like they're going to be the right horses to ride going forward," said Jobs, citing Apple's decision to dump the floppy drive from its original iMac in mid-1998 as an example. "Sometimes people call us crazy."

But he defended Apple's choice of technology horses.

"Flash looks like a technology that has had its day, but is waning," Jobs said, "and HTML5 looks like the technology that is really on the ascendency right now."

Apple has aggressively pushed HTML5 -- the next-generation of the underlying language used to create Web sites -- and its support for embedded video as the right substitute for Flash. But there, too, Apple faces resistance. Two weeks ago, Google debuted a new royalty-free video codec that will compete in HTML5 with the H.264 codec that Apple's backing.

Jobs didn't sound worried that any of these conflicts would upset the Apple cart. "It will all work itself out," he said, talking about consumers and how their choices, not Apple's decisions or Adobe's or Google's, make a product a success or failure. "[And] people seem to be liking the iPad."

On Monday, Apple announced it had sold 2 million iPads since the tablet went on sale in the U.S. March 12.

Adobe did not respond to a request seeking comment on Jobs' claims that Apple's rival started the public spat between the two firms.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld . Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@ix.netcom.com .

Read more about mac os in Computerworld's Mac OS Topic Center.

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Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
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