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Apple and Adobe: The Roots and Reasons Behind Today's Situation

By linathael. Original by Lionel - 05/02/2010 11:59:51 CET - Category: Software

One does not need to be a wizard or a medium to realize that the relationship between Apple and Adobe have slowly but surely switched from an undercovered to an opened conflict. This is especially true after the recent comments made by Steve Jobs during the introduction of the iPad, when he said that Adobe engineers were too lazy and that HTML 5 will take over Flash; clearly pouring oil onto the already burning fire.  In summary, Apple made it clear that Flash will never exist as such on the iPhone nor the iPad.

However, if we look back over the last decade, relationship between Apple and Adobe have also been tagged with some dark periods. It probably starts when Apple launched its movie/video edition suite, Final Cut Pro that killed Première on Mac OS X in a record time. Over the last versions of the Adobe Creative Suite, optimizations developed specifically for Windows, leaving Mac OS X users with an older and slower code, probably fueled the Apple resentment, leading to today's open conflict.

One of our source, very close to an Apple executive and decision board sent us some information and comments, highlighting the current situation with a new angle bringing further details on the roots and reasons concerning the conflict between Apple and Adobe. Let's start with a sentence from Steve Jobs spoken at the Apple HQ:

"Like Microsoft, Adobe has become a stodgy and conservative company, they've lost their focus - they are stuck in the middle." 

Below are some details of Apple's complains against Adobe, some things are known from the public, others not: 

  • Adobe completely missed the transition to Cocoa, and tried to extend the use of Carbon, causing problems for both users and Apple. They only now start to work within the programming environment, however, the first beta of the new Creative Suite 5 remain incomplete and unstable.
  • Adobe is reported to be very slow to react when Apple sends them bug reports, especially about Flash. Apple sent them description of 410 bugs, identified as important for Flash on Mac OS X, but Adobe only fixed 25 of them so far. Another comment from Steve Jobs about Flash:
Flash has become a collection of cobbled together technologies - a Kludge. It takes a huge amount of processing power and memory - it is too inefficient, and takes too long to learn.
  • According to Apple, the lack of Flash on the first iPhone OS was not a choice, but rather the consequence of the inability of Adobe to offer a mobile and power efficient bug-free Flash version. 
  • Apple is also upset about Adobe Software Activation, their anti-piracy protection. This system forces CS users to validate their license online. In order to prevent any bypassing by software-based debuggers, the ASA shunts the system in order to directly access the deepest layer of the CPU and the RAM, without considering the protection of such components built into Mac OS X. As a consequence it would increase the risk of crash and fragmentation, making Mac OS X unable to manage or better control them. So, every time the ASA is modified or updated as it has already been hacked a certain number of times, Adobe asks Apple to take measures on its system to let the ASA work efficiently, without creating too much instability
  • Last but not least, Apple thinks that the user interface of current Adobe applications is now getting too old, and did not move to a more user friendly version; and finally the price of the Creative Suite are just too high according to Apple's ranking.

The recent comments from Steve Jobs regarding Adobe might well be the first sign of a "cold war" between the two companies. Apple would be already preparing and developing applications to compete directly with Adobe's solutions, leading to open warfare. Cupertino would also be developing a software that could compete with Flash and Dreamweaver, entirely based on HTML 5.0. Beside Aperture X which should be released soon, Apple might also be working to develop a solution similar to Photoshop, a high-end Pro-oriented solution. We do not know further details about those applications being developed as it is either hidden from view or just starting.

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