It all started with an update to the Apple Software Developer Kit that said developers could only use Apple's tools to build apps for the iPhone and the iPad. While this stirred up a number of blog posts from the developer community, the biggest victim of this was Adobe and their planned release of a tool to port Flash applications to a variety of mobile platforms -- write once in Flash and publish to the iPhone, Android, and potentially others. This product was now DOA.
What followed was a bunch of back and forth between Apple and the community centered around Steve Jobs basically saying, "Flash sucks." Jobs even went so far as to publish an open letter explaining in detail why Flash would not be supported on the iPhone or the iPad. And again, there was some more back and forth within the community.
Adobe has now come out with an ad basically saying, "We Love Apple." While that might fill you with an overwhelming sense of "who cares," over on Techcrunch, MG Siegler put together a nice little commentary on what Adobe should do instead of this ad campaign. A simple synopsis of his advice to Adobe, "make a better product."
The Myth of the Special Relationship Between Apple and Adobe
Siegler also includes a link to this great blog post, Sorry, Adobe, you screwed yourself. This post revisits the history of Adobe's lack of support for the Apple platform. If you're sitting around with some grand notions of 'the special relationship' between Apple and Adobe, then this post is for you. It's a great refresher on how Adobe has virtually abandoned the Apple platform over the past fifteen years.
This post really connected with me. Over the years, I've grumbled about Adobe's products to anyone that would listen. While I've been forced to use the software as an industry professional, the last Adobe product I actually had good things to say about was Photoshop 3.0. Since that time, I've watched Adobe act like Microsoft, cranking out product after product focused on what Adobe wanted to make, not improvements to the functionality that I depend upon. As processors got better and better, Adobe managed to find ways to take the basic functions of their software and make them run slower and slower. Illustrator and Photoshop basically do the same things that they did back in 1995, but it takes the software five times longer to launch. Worse than that, they used their substantial resources to buy up competitors, take crappy software like Pagemaker, repackage it as InDesign, and cram it down our throats. When I use InDesign, there isn't an hour that goes by that I don't curse the product and everyone that made it.
In the end, that's why I agree with Steve Jobs and MG Siegler. If Adobe wants to be on my iPhone, they need to make a good product. Being the industry standard doesn't protect you from changes in technology or exempt you from animosity in your user base -- remember Syquest? As it stands, when I find decent alternatives to Adobe products, I use those tools instead. Admittedly, I'm just one member of the user community, but I'm sure that there are others that feel the same way.
What's more, as an effort to generate word of mouth buzz and inspire their user base to push for some sort of inclusion / exemption from Apple, this approach is more astroturf than grass roots. Maybe the team at Adobe should take a closer look at how much lawn they actually have.