Adobe shrugs off Apple impasse's effect on CS5

Adobe Systems CFO Mark Garrett said he doesn't anticipate the fallout from the firm's public scuffle with Apple over the Flash multimedia platform will deter potential customers from embracing its Creative Suite 5 products. In early April, Apple quietly but significantly updated the terms of its iPhone developer agreement to mandate that all applications must be written to run directly on the iPhone platform, effectively banning cross-compiler translation tools like CS5--speaking Monday during the JMP Securities Research Conference in San Francisco, Garrett said "We don't think there is going to be an impact to our Creative Suite tools as a result of this change from Apple." Instead, Garrett continued, developers will now utilize two "workflows," one to "create content for the Apple devices, and one to create content for everything else."

Adobe announced the release of the Adobe Creative Suite 5 product family in mid-April, promising developers and designers full-version upgrades of tools like Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver and InDesign. Days later, the company said it will cease investment on solutions targeting the iPhone platform. "We will still be shipping the ability to target the iPhone and iPad in Flash CS5. However, we are not currently planning any additional investments in that feature," wrote Adobe product manager Mike Chambers on his blog. "Developers should be prepared for Apple to remove existing content and applications (100+ on the store today) created with Flash CS5 from the iTunes store."

Late last month, Apple CEO Steve Jobs issued an open letter to outline the thinking behind his decision to block support for Flash across devices running the iPhone OS. In summary, Jobs takes issue with Adobe's contention that Flash is an open system, also calling into question its security, battery life and touchscreen interaction before arriving at what he calls "the most important reason"--control. "We know from painful experience that letting a third party layer of software come between the platform and the developer ultimately results in sub-standard apps and hinders the enhancement and progress of the platform," Jobs writes. "If developers grow dependent on third party development libraries and tools, they can only take advantage of platform enhancements if and when the third party chooses to adopt the new features. We cannot be at the mercy of a third party deciding if and when they will make our enhancements available to our developers."

The decision to ban Flash applications from the iPhone platform may prove costly for Apple: The computing giant reportedly faces a federal antitrust inquiry to determine whether its actions threaten competition by forcing developers to focus on one platform to the exclusion of others. Citing a source familiar with the matter, The New York Post reports the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission are currently in negotiations to determine which organization will initiate the antitrust probe. The report notes that a federal inquiry does not necessarily indicate regulators will take action against Apple, but serves instead to determine whether a full-scale investigation is warranted--if so, Apple likely would receive a subpoena seeking additional information on its decision to update its developer rules. Both the DOJ and FTC declined comment; Apple did not return requests for comment.

For more on Garrett's outlook:
- read this Wall Street Journal article

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