AAPL vs. ADBE: the latest move

AAPL and ADBE used to be friends…not so much anymore, though.

Flash and the iPad

When AAPL was outlining the features of the iPad, it said it would not support ADBE’s Flash application. (It doesn’t for the iPhone, either.)  Steve Jobs called Flash “buggy.”   AAPL strongly implied, if it didn’t state outright, that Flash was too antiquated to be permitted on a “magical” machine like the iPad.

This may well be true.  But I can’t help but notice that the ban on Flash forces iPad users to depend on AAPL for delivery of video content.  That, in turn, means that AAPL gets the chance to collect a transmission fees–either from the content provider or the user.  (Note, also, that there are no ports on the iPad to let you plug in a peripheral and import content that way.  Hmm.)

That’s the past, however.

the iPhone and Creative Suite 5

ADBE is just about to release a new version of its important product, Creative Suite.  One of its interesting new features is a kind of translation or porting gizmo that takes output created using Flash and reconfigures it so it works on other devices, including the iPhone and iPad.

The Wall Street Journal reports today that last week AAPL changed its rules for what can appear on the iPhone or iPad to ban content, like that coming from Creative Suite’s new gizmo, that isn’t originally written using AAPL-approved software–whether it works on AAPL devices or not.

Why would AAPL do this?  According to the WSJ, when it asked, AAPL replied that “Adobe’s Flash is closed and proprietary,” whereas AAPL (only) supports standard technologies.  Huh?

This is what I think

Let’s take it for granted that the standard that AAPL wants used, HTML5, is more advanced and produces a better image–and not just that the ATT mobile network and the AAPL device microprocessors/batteries aren’t big enough to handle Flash.  This is not at all clear to me, but let’s just say.

If I’m a smartphone app designer, the ADBE gizmo gives me a way to develop my product in Flash and port it over to the AAPL standard for free.  Three consequences:

–I’m going to develop in Flash and port over my product to any other platform I can,

–therefore, I’m not going to use any great new features of HTML5, and

–all smartphones are going to have identical products from me.

This would be a pro-GOOG result, since an Android phone would have access to any new app at the same time as the iPhone does.  It would also orient competition in smartphones away from unique features and toward price.

By refusing to allow this procedure, and in the absence of a gizmo to port content from HTML5 to Flash, the app developer has to choose–between AAPL, which has a ton of phones already in use, and Android, which doesn’t.  Not a hard decision.  The result?–the iPhone retains unique content and Android has that much farther to go to catch up.

The situation is the opposite for the iPad, since that device has just been launched.  Technical limitations of the iPad aside, you’d think AAPL should be encouraging developers to provide content.  Yes, but the iPhone represents half of AAPL’s profits, so any help to making the iPad more desirable is far outweighed by potential harm to the iPhone.

the outcome?

It’s not clear year.  Watch for a response from GOOG.

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