Adobe responds to Apple's war of words

The company takes out newspaper advertisements to paint Apple as a big bully.

By Kim Peterson May 13, 2010 2:23PM
Adobe (ADBE) stayed pretty quiet last month as its products were brutally bashed in an essay by Apple (AAPL) chief executive Steve Jobs.

Now, Adobe has an answer. Instead of turning the other cheek, Adobe is giving Apple a big kiss -- and then a smack on the hand.

"We [heart] Apple," the company said in full-page advertisements in many major newspapers Thursday. "What we don't love is anybody taking away your freedom to choose what you create, how you create it and what you experience on the Web."

The issue all centers around Flash, the pervasive software from Adobe that enables much of the advertisements, videos and games on the Web. Apple hates Flash so much that it has banned the software from iPhones and its new iPad tablet.

Jobs calls Flash a closed system owned entirely by Adobe. He also complains that Flash enables security holes, battery drainage, problems with mobile performance and issues with touch-screen technology. Flash is the top reason why Macs crash, he adds.

Adobe is trying to spin the debate into one about freedom of choice. Consumers should be able to use whatever application they like on whatever device they want, the company says on its web site.

"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," write Adobe co-founders Chuck Geschke and John Warnock in an online letter.
"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."
Well, it's a nice try. It's not the surgical taking-down that Jobs specializes in, but it's a solid attempt to paint Apple as a dictatorial bully that's trying to push everyone into using its products exclusively.

The ads didn't seem to make the impression that Jobs' essay did on observers.

"Does Adobe really believe it can shame Apple into reconsidering its position?" asks John Paczkowski on Digital Daily. The better thing for Adobe to do would be to make Flash run well with minimal resource consumption on mobile devices, he adds.

"All the Adobe ads don't matter if they can't make a compelling case to the mass market why they should care about Flash," writes analyst Michael Gartenberg.

"Adobe is walking with the swagger of a high school quarterback," writes CNBC's Jim Goldman. "But if it's not careful, it'll become that obnoxious high school quarterback walking around his 25th reunion with the same swagger, but just tragically out of date."

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