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Adobe Powers Down iPhone Flash Ambitions

By Mike Pearson MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Apr 21, 2010 3:27 PM PT

Adobe Systems has ended its efforts to secure a spot on the iPhone OS for Flash, its multimedia platform.

Adobe Powers Down iPhone Flash Ambitions

While the company will ship its Flash-to-iPhone porting tool in its upcoming Creative Suite, it will not dedicate any more resources to the program, Mike Chambers, Adobe's principal product manager for developer relations for the Flash platform, said in a blog post on Tuesday.

Earlier this month, Apple updated its developer program license, forbidding apps created with anything other than Apple-sanctioned tools. That included Adobe's tool to port programs written in Flash to the iPhone OS, which runs the iPhone and Apple's new iPad tablet.

Adobe will instead turn its attention to mobile platforms such as Android, the Google phone operating system.

"We are at the beginning of a significant change in the industry, and I believe that ultimately open platforms will win out over the type of closed, locked down platform that Apple is trying to create," Chambers wrote in his post.

Neither Apple nor Adobe responded to requests for comment before deadline for this article.

The Hurt's on Apple?

Apple's decision will do more to hurt it in the long run than it will Adobe, predicted Al Hilwa, an IDC Research analyst following the issue.

"Apple should really go back and reread history and see how they lost the first war with the PC," Hilwa told MacNewsWorld.

The decision to further close off the iPhone ecosystem may ultimately backfire, he said, if Android continues its rapid growth trajectory and other well-heeled competitors -- Microsoft, Nokia and RIM, primarily -- are able to capitalize on growing smartphone interest to take market share from Apple.

The decision also opens a strong marketing play for Apple's competitors to lure consumers with talking points promising the "full Web, not just the parts Steve Jobs wants you to see," Hilwa said.

Then again, Apple does have a huge presence in the smartphone market, and with the recent announcement of its iAd platform for iPhone OS developers, Apple has even less incentive to allow Flash -- a standard in online advertising -- onto its devices, Hilwa said.

Flash Can Survive

For Adobe, the question will be how well Flash can do without the iPhone.

Flash is strategically important to the success of Adobe's Creative Suite, which accounts for about half of its revenue. While losing out on the iPhone won't impose a significant short-term revenue hit, it could pose a strategic challenge if developers choose to stop supporting the platform and stop buying Adobe tools.

However, that's not likely to happen, Hilwa said.

"I think Flash can absolutely survive without the iPhone," he maintained. "The race is far from over."

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