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The gloves come off in fight between Apple and Adobe

April 21, 2010 |  2:05 pm

Steve-jobs After much coaxing from media commentators observing the subtle conflicts between Apple and Adobe Systems, the two technology giants appear ready to step into the ring.

Mike Chambers, Adobe's product manager for the Flash video platform, published a blog post on Monday with a series of direct and harsh words aimed at Apple. The Cupertino-based maker of the iPhone said earlier this month it would block a program that would let Flash developers easily port their apps to Apple's mobile operating system.

"The primary goal of Flash has always been to enable cross browser, platform and device development," Chambers wrote on his blog. "However, this is the exact opposite of what Apple wants. They want to tie developers down to their platform, and restrict their options to make it difficult for developers to target other platforms."

Apple, a company notoriously reserved about its public statements, stepped out from its Wizard of Oz-like chambers to address the Adobe manager's claims.

"Someone has it backwards," spokeswoman Trudy Muller told CNET in a statement. She went on to say that Apple is promoting, with the iPhone and iPad, technologies that are "open and standard, while Adobe's Flash is closed and proprietary."

Adobe will still include its Flash-to-iPhone exporter with its upcoming suite of software, but plans to discontinue development on that particular product, Chambers wrote.

That there was something amiss in the last year or so in the longtime affiliation between Apple and Adobe has been no mystery.

Nearly three years after the launch of the iPhone, Apple still doesn't support Flash, a Web browser plug-in that powers most online video. In this month's launch of the iPad, Apple again snubbed Adobe, selling a tablet computer that won't run Flash.

Starting with the iPhone's launch, Google made changes to YouTube to allow smart phones that don't run Flash to view its videos. Competing video site Vimeo did the same in January. Other publishers joined in for the launch of the iPad, as Apple triumphantly highlights on its site.

During an Apple company gathering, Chief Executive Steve Jobs is said to have bashed Adobe's perceived complacency in advancing Flash, the industry-leading interactive Web platform, according to several online reports.

Photoshop-laptopMeanwhile, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times in January, Adrian Ludwig, Adobe's group manager of platform development, carefully -- and sometimes tongue-in-cheek -- prodded Apple's perceived malice, while still balancing those shots with phrases like, "We'd love to be on the iPad."

Still, the relationship between the two companies can't be all bad. The advanced graphics space, where Adobe's Photoshop is king, remains one of the few software areas that Apple hasn't moved into. Yet.

In the last decade -- when Apple launched software for pro and consumer music, video and document creation -- Mac users still look to Adobe for its graphics application. Apple doesn't even ship a basic drawing program with its operating system. Microsoft has Paint.

Flash forward to two weeks ago, when Apple announced the upcoming version of its mobile operating system. Plenty of much-welcomed new features, but still no Flash, natch.

Amid all that excitement, Apple changed the rules for iPhone platform developers that barred code-language-translation software.

English translation, please?

In other words, the tool Adobe was preparing to ship -- and provide with added support to publisher Conde Nast -- that would allow Flash coders to repackage projects as iPhone and iPad apps would not be accepted by Apple's App Store regulators.

It was a sort of declaration of war, which Adobe hadn't immediately acknowledged. Until now.

Sandwiched between sharp words hurled at Apple and a spiteful promotion for Google's competing Android mobile system, Adobe's Chambers said there was a benefit to developing the Flash translator. "There is no technical reason that Flash can’t run on the iPhone," he wrote on the blog.

But really, was there ever any question about that?

[Corrected, 4:50 p.m. CNET had incorrectly named the Apple spokeswoman as Trudy Miller, which we republished.]

-- Mark Milian
twitter.com/markmilian

Upper photo, Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs during a Q&A session in April -- an image we cropped using Photoshop. Credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Lower photo: Tim Colley works an image in Photoshop. Credit: Garvey Scott / MCT

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