Adobe's Opportunity - InformationWeek
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Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn
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Adobe's Opportunity

Like most CEOs of public companies, Shantanu Narayen, CEO of Adobe, isn't the most compelling interview subject because he's too guarded about what he says.

Like most CEOs of public companies, Shantanu Narayen, CEO of Adobe, isn't the most compelling interview subject because he's too guarded about what he says.At the Web 2.0 Summit, he ducked the most interesting question put to him: Why do you think Apple won't let Adobe run interpreted code -- Flash -- on the iPhone?

"I think that's a question for Steve [Jobs]," Narayen replied.

Of course Narayen has an opinion about this. He just would rather not say something that might antagonize Apple.

One possibility is that it's a security issue. Given the prevalence of Flash-based malicious ads, that's not an unreasonable fear.

Narayen in fact acknowledged that Adobe faces a challenge in managing its Flash platform responsibly. To say that Adobe has been beset by security problems over the past year would be rather an understatement.

Another possibility is that it's a control issue: Apple simply would rather not have another platform operating inside its closed ecosystem. Having the Web emerge as a platform inside of Windows didn't work out so well for Microsoft. Perhaps Apple sees Flash as a similar sort of Trojan Horse.

To Narayen's credit, he was forthcoming about Adobe's lack of ambition as an ad provider. "Adobe will never be in the business of providing [online] ads or being in the portal business," he said.

Adobe, he insisted, is about helping people create great content.

It's also about providing great data, as Adobe's Omniture acquisition makes clear, and it's about extending the Flash platform to every device.

But it's good to hear the content creation aspect of Adobe's business emphasized, just in case Flash does end up losing out to open Web standards.

There's real opportunity for Adobe to help simplify content creation, both for designers and developers. You can bet that anyone who develops iPhone apps using Objective C is going to be giving Flash CS5 -- which will be able to generate iPhone apps from Flash files -- a good, long look.

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