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Adobe co-founder Chuck Geschke spoke with John Paczkowski of Digital Daily this week, just after his company had unveiled an open letter and new advertising campaign related to its ongoing dispute with Apple. Adobe's campaign is largely in response to an open letter published by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs last month, in which he argued that Flash is not suitable for the current generation of mobile devices.
Paszckowski asked Geschke about one line in particular from Jobs' letter: "Apple went through its near death experience, and Adobe was drawn to the corporate market with their Acrobat products." Paszckowski said he felt the Apple CEO was implying that Adobe had abandoned Apple in its time of need.
"We never abandoned Apple," Geschke responded. "Apple now seems to be abandoning at least one aspect of our product line right now. No, we never abandoned them. We've always ported our apps simultaneously to both platforms."
He continued: "There have been times when Apple has changed its strategy on hardware or on operating systems that didnât meet our product cycle, so there have been periods of maybe six months where we didn't keep up with their latest release. But thatâs our own business model; we can only afford to re-implement our products at a certain rate. We have never, ever abandoned Apple and we donât want to abandon them today."
Geschke was also asked why Flash isn't an "open standard," a question that the Adobe co-founder took issue with. He argued that Flash is open because Adobe published the SWF format and removed a previous requirement for a license to use it.
"No, we haven't put Flash out to a standards body yet as we have with PDF and Postscript," he said. "But I wouldn't be shocked if we do someday when it makes sense."
It doesn't make sense now, he said, because he isn't interested in having Flash being stuck with "design by committee." He pointed to HTML5, the open standard that Apple has embraced, and noted that it is taking a great deal of time to become finalized because "there are an awful lot of vested interests trying to influence its development."
Finally, Geschke said he thinks the iPad is "neat," though he has no interest in one personally. He said his company knows a number of developers who want to create applications for the iPad, but are frustrated by the prospect of having to learn to write for a new device rather than sticking with one language they're already familiar with.
Geschke's interview was part of a new public relations campaign Adobe has waged to fight Apple. On Thursday, the company began a new ad campaign in which it says it "loves" Apple, but dislikes "anybody taking away your freedom to use the Web openly. Geschke, along with co-founder John Warnock, penned a letter in which they asserted that a "single company" does not control the Web.
"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," they wrote.
While Apple has banned Flash from its devices powered by the iPhone OS, including the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, it has embraced HTML5. The exclusion of Flash has been pegged by Apple on the Web format's alleged instability and high power consumption in mobile devices. The fight between the two companies has been a matter of considerable debate, but many major Web sites have turned to HTML5 since the release of the iPad.
In addition to banning Flash from its mobile Web browsers, Apple also changed the iPhone developer agreement to ban third-party tools that would allow software to be ported from other formats, like Adobe Flash, to native iPhone OS software. Jobs said such tools would result in substandard applications on the Apple-controlled App Store. Those changes have come under federal scrutiny, as the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission are considering an antitrust inquiry into the matter.