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Adobe CEO Confident Android Tablets Will Beat iPad

Shantanu Narayen said its Flash-based spat with Apple is over, and the iPad isn't unbeatable.
There was some tough talk this week from Adobe CEO, Shantanu Narayen. Speaking at the AllThingsD conference in California, he quite brazenly said that Android-based tablets will eventually beat Apple's iPad.

"What you saw with smartphones hitting an inflection point with Android, you'll see it again with tablets," Narayen said.

Those are brave words, considering the absolute lack of successful Android tablets at the moment. The Motorola Xoom, the first Android 3.0 Honeycomb tablet, has more or less tanked. By the end of the first quarter, Motorola admitted to shipping just 250,000 of them. It didn't say how many were sold to end-users. I have yet to see one in public.

The LG G-Slate was apparently dead on arrival, despite its strengths. LG did a fine job crafting the G-Slate, but lack of marketing has left it with little visibility in an iPad-crazed market.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 sales will kick off in the coming weeks. While the Tab 10.1 device is an extremely solid competitor in terms of hardware, the software is still buggy and Honeycomb still has a scarcity of applications.

Even so, Narayen said, "The excitement around the Android tablet I think is incredible. There will be another 20 tablets that will come by the end of the year that will push the industry in different direction."

What excitement? Where? I've yet to see anyone go crazy about Android tablets. And what different direction? The iPad is destroying every other maker of tablets at the moment. Apple set the template, tone, and pricing for the entire tablet market. With 65,000 dedicated iPad applications, Android has a long, long way to go.

Perhaps the biggest salvation will be the next version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich, which will marry the divergent paths of Android (Gingerbread and Honeycomb) and create a single operating system sharing the same set of capabilities and features. Google hasn't given us the whole story about Ice Cream Sandwich, however, and it isn't likely to arrive before the holidays.

Narayen was interviewed by the Wall Street Journal's Walter Mossberg, who needled him about Adobe's relationship with Apple.

"What's the deal with you and Steve Jobs?" Mossberg asked.

"There are a lot of misperceptions out there," replied Narayen. "When [our public disagreement over Flash] first broke, people talked about the fact that they thought it was a technology issue, and I think it's become fairly clear over the last year that it's not about the technology: it's about a business model issue. It's about control of a platform. It's the control of the App Store that's really at issue here."

Does that mean we're likely to see Flash-based content on iOS devices? Nah. Google has so far done a good job of circumventing it with its HTML5 push.

Perhaps the most interesting comments made by Narayen concern the RIM PlayBook and HP TouchPad. Both, he noted, can run Flash and are able to differentiate and offer an alternative for developers. Narayen has apparently forgotten that developers haven't generated a whole lot of Flash content for Android tablets.

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