Apple’s refusal to allow Flash on the iPhone hurts innovation and is “like 1984 in a lot of ways,” Adobe Systems’ CTO said on Wednesday, implying that Apple has become the “Big Brother” it rebelled against in its iconic TV ad from that year.
“The story is bigger than HTML versus Flash. It’s about freedom of choice on the Web,” CTO Kevin Lynch said at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco Wednesday, when he was asked to comment on “the elephant in the room” during an on-stage interview
“I think it’s like 1984 in a lot of ways,” Lynch said later, apparently referring to Apple’s famous Macintosh computer ad, in which an athlete hurls a sledgehammer through a giant screen in front of an auditorium of gray worker drones. The face on the screen was seen to represent the dominant power in computing at the time.
Shades of the United States vs. Microsoft
A report in Monday’s New York Post that two government agencies — the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice — are each considering launching an antitrust investigation against Apple (AAPL) puts me in mind of the case the DOJ and 20 states brought against Microsoft (MSFT) nearly a dozen years ago.
To many observers — including the judge who heard the case — U.S. vs. Microsoft seemed open and shut. In Nov. 1999, Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson found that Microsoft’s dominance of the PC operating systems market constituted a monopoly and that the company had illegally used that power to try to crush Apple, Java, Netscape, Lotus Notes, Real Networks, Linux, and others. His remedy, offered the next spring, was to break Microsoft into two units, one that made operating systems and another that made applications.
Microsoft immediately appealed, and while it couldn’t overturn the findings of fact, it successfully fought the remedy….The case was settled in Nov. 2001. Microsoft remains intact and its software still runs nearly 9 out of 10 of the world’s PCs, although to many in the industry, the company doesn’t seem to have the kind of swagger it exhibited before and during the trial.
According to a person familiar with the matter, the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission are locked in negotiations over which of the watchdogs will begin an antitrust inquiry into Apple’s new policy of requiring software developers who devise applications for devices such as the iPhone and iPad to use only Apple’s programming tools.
Regulators, this person said, are days away from making a decision about which agency will launch the inquiry. It will focus on whether the policy, which took effect last month, kills competition by forcing programmers to choose between developing apps that can run only on Apple gizmos or come up with apps that are platform neutral, and can be used on a variety of operating systems, such as those from rivals Google, Microsoft and Research In Motion.
The inquiry would follow a week in which Apple competitor Adobe, whose Flash video technology is locked off Apple products, publicly lamented the policy. Adobe cited it as a chief reason Flash videos can’t play on the iPhone, sparking a public response from Apple and commentary from Microsoft and industry group the Free Software Foundation.
It’s a valid question. The company has been under fire lately for any number of reasons….There’s the disagreement with software developers who want to use third-party software to create applications for the iPad and iPhone, specifically built using Adobe’s Flash authoring tool. In turn, Apple is still in a three-year standoff with Adobe over disallowing Flash content on Apple’s mobile devices.
Then there are frustrations with Apple’s app store, where applications are approved for sale in iTunes for what seem like random reasons. There’s also the company’s dispute with HTC over patents related to the Google phone, which is made by HTC. And then, the company’s chief executive, Steven P. Jobs, has been criticized for his terse responses to customers who ask questions about Apple products.
Last, but definitely not least, there is the brouhaha that has surrounded the company since a prototype of the new version of the company’s iPhone was found in a bar.
Apple Inc.‘s recent competitive behavior is similar to that of a 19th-century railroad company, Adobe Systems Inc.‘s top technology executive said Wednesday.
“Apple’s playing this strategy where they want to create a walled garden” around the Internet, Adobe Chief Technology Officer Kevin Lynch remarked at a tech conference in San Francisco. He then compared the company’s moves to the deployment of railways with varying gauges in the 1800s, which precluded compatibility with those of rivals.
“If you look at what’s going on right now, it’s kind of like railroads in the 1800s,” Lynch said.
digits: Will video-game earnings shoot ahead?
Dan Gallagher tells us why Wall Street is looking for strong numbers from video-game makers this quarter, with three of the largest game publishers slated to report results over the next few days. Plus Microsoft’s Kin and breaking news on Facebook.
Apple /quotes/comstock/15*!aapl/quotes/nls/aapl (AAPL 256.10, +0.12, +0.05%) and Adobe /quotes/comstock/15*!adbe/quotes/nls/adbe (ADBE 32.71, -0.26, -0.77%) have been engaged in an escalating war of words over the effective banning of Adobe’s Flash technology on popular Apple products such as the iPhone and iPad.
Apple didn’t ban Flash from the iPhone and iPad because it propogates lowest common denominator apps, it banned Flash because it propogates good ones. This according to Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch who, during an interview at the Web 2.0 Expo today, lambasted Apple for its campaign against the platform.
Said Lynch: “The technology issue Apple has with us is not that our tech doesn’t work, it’s that it does work.”
An interesting counterpoint to Apple (AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs’s 1,700-word anti-Flash polemic last week, which claimed not only that Flash doesn’t work well on the iPhone, it doesn’t work well on any mobile platform.
Digital Music News:
Think the iPad is useless? That is a point worth debating, though at least one million would beg to differ. Early Monday morning, Apple announced the sale of its millionth iPad, a threshold achieved after just 28 days. On top of that, over 12 million iPad apps have been downloaded from the App Store, and over 1.5 million ebooks from the new iBookstore.
Apple has sold 1m units of the iPad in the four weeks since it went on sale in the US, suggesting that demand for the touchscreen tablet computer is higher than anticipated.
However, the company faced criticism from users who complained that the 3G iPad, released at the weekend, was delivering poor video performance over AT&T’s network.
By hitting the 1m sales mark in 28 days, Apple can point to the iPad as one of its most successful product launches.
Before the launch, critics wondered whether users would have room for a third device between a smartphone and a personal computer.
“It’s too early to say for sure, but it’s off to a good start,” said Gene Munster, an analyst with Piper Jaffray. “It looks like this is a category that is going to be around.”