Is Apple beating up on Adobe?

The upcoming iPad doesn't support the Flash format. What does this move say about Apple?

By Kim Peterson Feb 10, 2010 1:36PM

Apple iPad. Credit: (© Kimberly White/Reuters/Landov)There's been quite a bit of back and forth regarding the goodness of Apple (AAPL) after the company unveiled its new iPad tablet.

See, Apple made an important decision to exclude Adobe's Flash from the iPad. And that likely means we'll have a harder time accessing Hulu videos, parts of Google Street Maps and other sites.

Apple chief executive Steve Jobs even had the temerity to pull up a New York Times page with a broken Flash link while he was presenting the iPad. It was a move that Rob Pegoraro of The Washington Post swears was intentional -- to prove that no one needs Flash.

Adobe (ADBE), understandably upset, wrote that "there's something important missing from Apple's approach to connecting consumers to content" on the iPad.

The Wall Street Journal's Holman Jenkins took the indignation a step further, suggesting that Apple is undergoing a "Microsofting." Or, to put it bluntly, that Apple is not playing fair.


"A company preoccupied with products is in danger of becoming a company preoccupied with strategy," Jenkins wrote. "And by 'strategy,' we mean zero-sum maneuvering versus hated rivals."

Apple's refusal to support Flash may keep the iPad from being the best Web-browsing machine, he adds. In fact, he says, the iPad pretty much looks like a device designed to play content from the iTunes store.

Apple has reportedly said that Adobe's Flash player is too unstable and buggy to be counted on. Some critics are fed up with Flash, too, and are pinning their hopes on a new version of HTML in development to fix things.

Others see an advertising coup at work. Since many Web ads are based on Flash, is Apple trying to push some sort of proprietary format on advertisers?

It's a fascinating debate. And, as Jenkins writes, Apple's market cap may surpass Microsoft's this year. Apple isn't the underdog anymore, and it can throw its weight around with the best of them. Just ask Adobe. (Microsoft publishes MSN Money.)

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