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Founders of Adobe Respond to Steve Jobs

Founders of Adobe Respond to Steve Jobs

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Chuck Geschke and John Warnock, co-founders of the Flash focused Adobe — have published an open letter in response to Steve Jobs anti-Flash stance. With the directive of not including Flash on Apple devices like the iPhone and iPad — the Flash Wars are just gearing up.

Our thoughts on open markets

The genius of the Internet is its almost infinite openness to innovation. New hardware. New software. New applications. New ideas. They all get their chance.

As the founders of Adobe, we believe open markets are in the best interest of developers, content owners, and consumers. Freedom of choice on the web has unleashed an explosion of content and transformed how we work, learn, communicate, and, ultimately, express ourselves.

If the web fragments into closed systems, if companies put content and applications behind walls, some indeed may thrive — but their success will come at the expense of the very creativity and innovation that has made the Internet a revolutionary force.

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.

When markets are open, anyone with a great idea has a chance to drive innovation and find new customers. Adobe’s business philosophy is based on a premise that, in an open market, the best products will win in the end — and the best way to compete is to create the best technology and innovate faster than your competitors.

That, certainly, was what we learned as we launched PostScript® and PDF, two early and powerful software solutions that work across platforms. We openly published the specifications for both, thus inviting both use and competition. In the early days, PostScript attracted 72 clone makers, but we held onto our market leadership by out-innovating the pack. More recently, we’ve done the same thing with Adobe® Flash® technology. We publish the specifications for Flash — meaning anyone can make their own Flash player. Yet, Adobe Flash technology remains the market leader because of the constant creativity and technical innovation of our employees.

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.

Chuck Geschke, John Warnock
Chairmen, Adobe Board of Directors

Setting the record straight, from Adobe:

Recently there has been a surge in discussion about Adobe® Flash®, and within that discussion, a fair amount of incorrect information has been communicated.

We would like to clear up some of those misperceptions.

Flash was actually originally created as a technology for tablets with touch interfaces. And today, Flash has full support for working on touch-based devices.

For existing Flash content developed with mouse input in mind, Flash Player will automatically convert the touch events into mouse events. This allows Flash content designed for the desktop, to work seamlessly on touch-based devices.

For new Flash content developed specifically with touch in mind, Flash Player 10.1 provides a complete set of multitouch and gesture APIs.

75% of all video on the web is viewed via the Flash Player, including videos encoded in the most popular codecs such as H.264 and VP6.

There are many claims that H.264 will kill Flash. However, H.264 is a video codec (which requires a player), while Flash is a complete multimedia runtime, which can play back H.264, among other codecs. Furthermore, Flash provides a complete solution for advanced video distribution, including support for technologies such as streaming, adaptive bitrate delivery, and content protection.

Of course, playing back high definition video can be a CPU-intensive task. This is why Flash Player 10.1 includes support for hardware accelerated video playback across devices from mobile to desktop environments. Now that the appropriate APIs are available in OS X 10.6.3, we are also implementing GPU accelerated video on the Mac, available as a preview release code-named Gala. This can significantly improve both CPU usage as well as battery life.

Flash content is dynamic and visual, and like all multimedia content and technologies, it requires more processing power than static HTML documents. Flash performs as well as, if not better than, comparable multimedia technologies. The Flash Player team is constantly working to deliver the best performance for rich, interactive media on the web.

On mobile devices better performance translates into better battery life. Adobe has made a number of further optimizations in Flash Player 10.1 around code execution, memory usage, hardware accelerated video playback, and battery life.

Of course, since Flash runs across platforms, all of the optimizations made for mobile will also benefit Flash content on desktops, laptops, netbooks, and tablets.

Security is one of the highest priorities for the Flash Player team. The Symantec Global Internet Threat Report for 2009 found that Flash had the second fewest number of vulnerabilities of all Internet technologies listed (which included both web plug-ins and browsers). This is significant when you consider that Flash Player is among the most widely distributed and used pieces of software in the world.

Given the complexity of modern software, security vulnerabilities are going to be present. However, Adobe has taken extensive steps to both reduce the total number of issues as well as help ensure that when issues are found we can quickly address them and provide updates to end users. This includes taking steps to ensure that users are able to get the latest Flash Player updates as quickly as possible, and working with browser vendors to integrate Flash Player privacy settings with those of the browser.

The Flash Player is part of a rich ecosystem of both open and proprietary technologies.

The core engine of the Flash Player (AVM+) is open source and was donated to the Mozilla foundation where it is actively maintained. The file formats supported by the Flash Player, SWF and FLV/F4V, as well as the RTMP and AMF protocols are freely available and openly published. Anyone can use the specifications without requiring permission from Adobe. Third parties can and do build audio, video, and data services that compete with those from Adobe.

There are no restrictions on the development of SWF authoring tools, and anyone can build their own SWF or FLV/F4V player.

Adobe Flex, the primary application framework for Flash, is also open source and is actively maintained and developed by Adobe and the community.

Finally, Flash has a rich developer ecosystem of both open and proprietary tools and technologies, including developer IDEs such as FDT, IntelliJ, and haXe; open source runtimes such as Gnash; and open source video servers such as Red5.

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