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3/5/2008
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Jobs Slams Flash, Adobe Responds

The Apple CEO said that Adobe's Flash is not good enough for the iPhone.

Apple chief executive Steve Jobs said Adobe Flash is not yet good enough for the iPhone, prompting Adobe to respond that the smartphone isn't ready for the Web without its video-playing technology.

The tit-for-tat started on Tuesday when Jobs was quoted as saying at Apple's shareholder meeting that the version of Flash for desktops and notebooks "performs too slow to be useful" on the iPhone, and the mobile version of Flash "is not capable of being used with the Web."

Rather than support Flash, Apple requires that video be delivered in a particular file format. As a result, even though Google's YouTube has agreed to go along with Apple, only a fraction of Web video is playable on the iPhone. Flash is used to display the majority of online video, including that on YouTube.

Jobs' remarks were not well received by Adobe. Indeed, Ryan Stewart, the chief spokesman for Adobe's Internet applications, questioned in his blog on ZDNet whether the iPhone was ready for the Web without Flash.

"I'd even go as far as to say that the Web experience isn't complete on the iPhone until some kind of Flash support is added," Stewart said.

Stewart pointed out how Nokia and Sony have adopted Flash in mobile devices. "We've got a lot of partners, 450 million Flash-enabled devices out there and we're looking at 1 billion devices with Flash by 2010."

All of that, however, has not impressed Jobs, who was quoted by Dow Jones as saying that Adobe needs more than its two current versions. "There's this missing product in the middle," Jobs said.

Jobs' statements are sure to disappoint Web developers, many of whom are familiar with Flash development. Given Jobs' comments, Apple is unlikely to announce Flash support in the iPhone when the company meets with reporters at its headquarters Thursday for a briefing on the "iPhone software road map." The discussion is expected to include information on the long-awaited software development kit for the smartphone.

The iPhone is second only to the BlackBerry in smartphone sales in the United States. Many iPhone-toting businesspeople are eager for Apple to offer support for corporate e-mail systems, such as Microsoft Exchange. The SDK would also be a boon for software developers anxious to build applications that could run directly on the iPhone's operating system.

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