The Macalope Weekly: Flash back

ABC’s FlashForward may have been cancelled, but the Apple vs. Flash saga has been renewed for another season! In this very special episode, Adobe Strikes Back with a series of ads declaring its love for Apple. It’s the touching story of co-dependent technology and a love spurned! Tune in, won’t you?

THIS MARRIAGE IS SUFFOCATING ME!

Adobe’s ad blitz comes accompanied with a heartfelt and touching commentary by founders Chuck Geschke and John Warnock, full of paeans to open markets and butterflies and a gift certificate for a free scoop of ice cream. You like ice cream, right? Well, Apple doesn’t want you to have any!

As the founders of Adobe, we believe open markets are in the best interest of developers, content owners, and consumers.

That we can all agree on.

If only Geschke and Warnock had stopped there and we had all piled into their limos and headed over to Baskin-Robbins.

If the web fragments into closed systems, if companies put content and applications behind walls…

You mean like the wall of a lousy runtime environment that would just as soon crash the Macalope’s browser as play back a Daily Show clip? The wall of a development environment controlled by one company that makes some pretty good coin off the deal?

Oh, no. That’s not the wall you were talking about. Sorry. Go on.

…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.

The Internet is an open range where anyone can compete in any way they like. But Adobe didn’t make the Internet. In fact, they tried to wall off a section of it. Apple, on the other hand, made its own walled garden with a scenic view of the Internet.

Reasonable people can disagree about which is best, but let’s at least be honest about what we’re talking about.

Adobe’s business philosophy is based on a premise that, in an open market, the best products will win in the end — and the best way to compete is to create the best technology and innovate faster than your competitors.

And if that doesn’t work, you can always dump a mess of money on some really whiny ads.

We publish the specifications for Flash — meaning anyone can make their own Flash player.

Publish and completely control.

In the end, we believe the question is really this: Who controls the World Wide Web?

This is not the question at all. Is the iPhone OS the Web? No. That’s ridiculous.

Really, the Macalope thinks this whole ploy is a terrible tack to take. It makes Adobe look weak and needy. “Aaaaaple won’t plaaaaay faaaaair!”

Don’t tell us why we should care about this, Adobe. Show us.

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Mood swings

The Macalope’s seen a few people—albeit somewhat jokingly—quote the “First they came for the…” speech and ask what will happen when Apple finally does come for something you love?! WHAT THEN?!

Well, we’d switch to Android, probably. Or Palm. Or Windows Phone 7, assuming this is the distant future when cyborgs rule the land with an iron fist. Or the Kin.

Ha-ha! Just kidding. We’d never switch to the Kin.

Apple does not control the smartphone market. Everyone remembers that, right?

Technology coverage can be bewildering sometimes. One day the talking point is “Android ascendant, iPhone doomed!” and the next it’s “Apple abusing its monopoly power!” and no one seems to notice anything’s changed.

Who cares?

Remember when you first watched Return of the Jedi and Obi-Wan give his eye-rollingly bad explanation for lying to Luke about Vader having “killed” his father? “What I told you was true…from a certain point of view.” Oh, please! Turns out Luke’s uncle was right! That old man’s crazy!

But here we have a case where your opinion does really depend on your point of view. First of all, what do we mean when we talk about “market”? Adobe conflates the market for iPhone OS apps with the entire Internet. Those are clearly not the same. Yes, Apple has completely restricted the market for native iPhone apps (anyone can still make a Web app). If Apple won’t approve your app and it won’t work as a Web app, it seems to the Macalope that the best way to make Apple feel the pain is make a really incredible Android app, not take out a bunch of expensive ads (Adobe is at least doing both). People like to say “Apple never listens to anyone!” but trust the horny one—it’ll listen if people stop buying iPhones.

But the Macalope will be surprised if people move away from the iPhone in droves because of a technology that eases the lives of developers instead of users.

And that leads us to the second “point of view.” Who’s supposed to care about this dust-up? Like NetNewsWire developer Brent Simmons, the Macalope’s having a hard time giving a rip. Even if we don’t support violence, we still all cheer when the abusive boyfriend gets the snot kicked out of him at the end of the made-for-Lifetime movie.

Not that the Macalope’s saying he watches Lifetime.

Ahem.

So, as an Apple product user, it’s hard to get worked up over not having something he doesn’t even want. Sure, it’s not all about Flash, but it’s still unclear what the end-user would really be missing out on.

As someone both literally and figuratively invested in the company, he obviously wants Apple to hold all the cards. There’s no doubt this hardline stance protects the interests of Apple investors, no matter what your new-age doctrines on free markets are.

But the Macalope can see how this stinks from the perspective of a developer. As a developer, you want access to the widest selection of development tools possible. And there is no competition in iPhone OS development tools. This is why the Macalope gets why Jonathan “Wolf” Rentzsch canceled the C4 developers conference. (To get some clarification on Rentzsch’s views, the Macalope did a quick Q&A with him.)

Free market purists should also care, obviously. But those guys…ugh, God, they’re so annoying at parties.

The point is, while Obi-Wan was full of it, this is a situation where you can come to different answers depending on what your interests are. Can we stop pretending there’s one pure, true answer here?

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