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Wednesday, April 21, 2010, 02:20 pm PT (05:20 pm ET)

Apple strikes back at Adobe, says Flash is 'closed and proprietary'

In a rare public comment, Apple's public relations department responded Wednesday to criticisms from the project manager for Adobe Flash, suggesting his recent criticism of Apple was "backwards."

In a statement to CNet's DeepTech, Apple spokeswoman Trudy Miller fired back at Adobe's Mike Chambers, who revealed this week that his company was abandoning its investment in a feature that would allow Flash applications to be ported natively to the iPhone OS. Chambers also made comments suggesting that Apple's closed system was restrictive to developers — an allegation that caught the ire of Apple.

"Someone has it backwards — it is HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, and H.264 (all supported by the iPhone and iPad) that are open and standard, while Adobe's Flash is closed and proprietary," Apple's Miller said in the statement.

While Apple's stance should come as no surprise, the fact that it offered comment on the matter is unique for the notoriously secretive company. When Apple introduced iPhone OS 4 earlier this month, company co-founder Steve Jobs was asked if there were any plans to add support for Adobe Flash. Jobs simply responded, "No."

But privately, Jobs has allegedly been very outspoken about Flash in recent months. At a company meeting in January, the CEO was rumored to have called Adobe "lazy," and said most Mac crashes are due to Flash. "The world is moving to HTML5," Jobs was quoted as saying.

Jobs also allegedly called Flash a "CPU hog" in a meeting with officials from The Wall Street Journal. The Apple co-founder was said to have called the Web format "full of security holes" and "old technology."

Adobe employees and supporters have fired back publicly since Apple revealed the iPad, which does not support Flash. Then, earlier this month, Apple took it one step further and specifically prohibited the development of applications using "an intermediary translation or compatibility layer tool." The change to the iPhone OS developer agreement means that software originally written for formats like Adobe's Flash cannot be ported to the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Adobe's forthcoming Creative Suite 5 includes software that allows Flash developers to port their software to the iPhone, though Adobe will no longer advance that technology due to Apple's changes.

One Adobe supporter suggested Apple timed the announcement to hurt sales of CS5. Jobs, in an e-mail, defended the move and said that intermediary software only results in substandard applications.