Apple vs. Adobe

Adobe today struck back at Apple in the wake of Steve Jobs’ open letter on Flash with an open letter of their own and an ad-campaign running on blogs including Engadget. Both sides have a lot to gain if they can sway public opinion and force the other’s hand. Unfortunately for Adobe, Apple is in the stronger position because they control the programming environment, and consumers love their product. Unfortunately that position hurts consumers and it verges on anti-competitive.

Apple learned a lot from battling Microsoft over the years. And they’re not going to give up control over what is programmed for their operating systems easily. In his letter Jobs writes:

We know from painful experience that letting a third party layer of software come between the platform and the developer ultimately results in sub-standard apps and hinders the enhancement and progress of the platform.

But really? That’s his argument? Microsoft lost anti-trust cases in the U.S. and Europe when using similar logic they bundled internet explorer and Windows Media Player with Windows. If doing that to win the browser wars was found to be illegal and anti-competitive then how can it be legal for Apple to bundle their software with their products while selectively limiting their environment to other third party software?

Adobe’s founders in their letter argue:

If the web fragments into closed systems, if companies put content and applications behind walls, some indeed may thrive — but their success will come at the expense of the very creativity and innovation that has made the Internet a revolutionary force.

And they’re exactly right. Unfortunately, their messaging is aesthetically the opposite side of Apple’s cool image. Founders Chuck Geschke and John Warnock include a picture of them that appears to be from the 1880s. But hey, we’ll take that with a grain of salt. A completely unscientific study shows that most people agree with Adobe, hopefully for consumers the two companies find a way to work together before it turns into a legal battle.