Tag Archives: Adobe

No App for That! Is Steve Jobs Failing Apple?

No App for That!  Is Steve Jobs Failing Apple?

“It’s Innovation, not Open Source. . .”

I just finished reading Gregg Keizer’s Computer World article, “Adobe escalates feud with Apple over Flash.” In his article, Keizer outlines some new developments in the ongoing Next Tech War. Specifically, Keizer links to a post on Adobe’s website titled, “Freedom of Choice,” which offers a letter from Adobe’s Co-founders Chuck Geschke and John Warnock. In that letter, Geschke and Warnock attempt to frame the feud with Apple as Open Systems vs. Closed Systems.  They brand Apple’s position as closed market, stating:

“We believe that Apple, by taking the opposite approach, has taken a step that could undermine this next chapter of the web — the chapter in which mobile devices outnumber computers, any individual can be a publisher, and content is accessed anywhere and at any time.”

Keizer’s article goes on to quote Michael Gartenberg, a blogger, tech journalist, sometimes evangelist, and an analyst with the Altimeter Group, as some kind of authoritative rebuttal, a voice of the “mass market” if you will, to Adobe’s position.

“All the talk of ‘open’ and ‘closed’ doesn’t matter,” Gartenberg’s quote reads.  He then adds, ‘That might be of interest in the coffeehouses of Silicon Valley, but we’ve moved beyond the point where the tech-savvy insiders make market decisions. The mass market makes the decisions.'”

Really?  Well, recall, Mr. Gartenberg, that the discussion is not about tech-savvy consumers, but is, instead, about a developer community estimated to number in the range of 3 million (according to Adobe’s website).  So, no tech-savvy consumers here, but Gartenberg is right about one thing, the Jobs/Adobe battle is not about Open Vs. Closed systems;  nor is this latest skirmish a reason to elevate the mass market as the only measure of marketplace value, which is what Gartenberg appears to be saying.  Look, I hold the mass market in the greatest respect, but if mass market product demand is the only measure of value inherent in a technology company’s product offerings, any company with a product that fails to gain mass market success might as well close its doors.  After all, the mass market doesn’t want it.  Moreover, employing Gartenberg’s reasoning means that a nice little sliver of  mass market demand gives a company, any company (think Facebook), a mass market-driven reason to push its weight around.  Well, let’s hope not.  “The mass market makes the decisions,” sounds lovely in theory, but in this, and many other instances, it is so far out of context as a rebuttal for Apple’s flame war against Adobe developers, that it forces us to the question:

Is Steve Jobs Failing Apple?

The question is provocative.  It is also fair.  In waging this pointless war against Adobe, Apple effectively dismisses the needs and concerns of Flash developers, relegating them to nothing more than “tech-savvy” with a disdainful sniff.  It doesn’t seem to matter to Jobs that his edicts affect a large number of developers.  It doesn’t seem to matter that  many corporations and smaller companies use Flash as a development tool, and that they have been requesting some sort of compromise for years.

What Gartenberg and Jobs refuse to acknowledge is that, like any other market, the tech market possesses an eco-system (see right).  This eco-system has been transformed over the past five years, offering a broader range of value, value derived from diversity of the producers.  Tool sets can be open or closed.  Platforms can be managed or completely open, but in this new system, we will call it the interactive marketplace, developers are so much more than tech-savvy consumers, they are value producers.  And no matter what their stripe (Flash, Silverlight, etc.) developers provide value-add to operating platforms, helping to create products that are desirable to the “mass market.”    This structure, inherent in  and  highly valued by what is essentially a new tech industry, is unlikely to change in the near future.

Jobs may be brilliant, and his product may be cool, but neither he, nor his company is capable of producing the requisite number of applications to make his development platform the best source for mobile entertainment, news, and whatever else the “mass market” wants from its mobile devices.  He could hire every available programmer from here to Timbuktu and still not meet all the “mass market” demand for apps.

Surely Jobs understands that Apps Developers drive the mass market to the iPhone/iPad.  Without their support, and the support of corporations that use Adobe products, Steve Jobs and his products run the risk of being “also ran cool,” kind of like the Apple Newton.  Of course, all of this is just a rehash of what has been said before.  Plus, it’s not really the point of what Steve Jobs appears to be doing with his tormenting of Adobe.

A Little Bit of Perspective

In my original post on this new Tech War, I said that this was a war over “Applications Development Platforms.”  So, despite  Geschke and Warnock’s attempt to frame Apple’s tactics as the actions of an evil empire, and despite Gartenberg’s focus on mass market as some type of all encompassing measure of value, none of these factors are really at play.  What is at play is Jobs’ attempt to force-shift the entire applications market onto the Apple Development Platform.  This seems to be nothing more than a transparent attempt to dominate in the Applications Development market.

Consider the illustration on the left.  It depicts a quadrant of Product Erosion. The top-right quadrant shows that the most significant products and those with the highest degree of differentiation are considered “Innovative Solutions.” Products with the least amount of differentiation and low degrees of significance are considered “Standard” or  “Commodity.”

Over time, innovative solutions erode in marketplace value as competitors bring similar products to market.  What was an innovation becomes a standard.  To gain or maintain market share, incremental differentiation must occur.

The marketplace is and has always been an environment of:

  1. Innovators
  2. Integrators
  3. Specialists
  4. Commodity or Long-Tail providers

The struggle of any innovator is to keep their products and services in the innovative solution quadrant. Organizations and leaders can do this with “wow” products, or with personality-driven press as they differentiate their products and services.  Apple has the wow, but  Steve Jobs seems to be employing personality with this irrelevant war and possibly even the lost iPhones.  In addition, with the demand that developers only use Apple’s Application Development Platform, he seems a bit behind the times, old school bravado trying to operate in a new and more collaborative value system.

So, back to the question, is Steve Jobs failing Apple by employing such a strategy?

Jobs Isn’t Failing, Only Flailing

The answer is, no.  He’s not failing, but in acting like Lord and Commander of the entire development value system, he is flailing.  A continued demand that developers choose the Apple Platform to develop products for access to his “mass market,” could result in Apple ending up with delayed product releases as developers move to other platforms where they are free to choose their tools.  Developers will then port their programs over to Apple’s Web OS using Objective C code generators.

No Guru is an Island

Jobs has made these mistakes before.  He seems to forget that Apple is, and always has been, an innovation company.  He understands innovation.  He is willing to gamble everything to keep Apple as an innovator in the marketplace.   With the iPhone, iPad, and other Apple products, the mobile marketplace has been reset.  It’s ready to grow again; but Steve Jobs, instead of basking in the glow of the accolades he so richly deserves, is picking fights about a whole lot of nothing.   Worse, he’s acting as if the developers who develop for Apple’s mobile applications are employees and not separate entities working within the market standardization and innovation quadrant, just like Apple.  He’s acting as though Apple is providing a benefits package and career advancement opportunities.  He is acting old tech bully in a collaborative tech value system.  In the end, for 2 million Flash developers, and countless other companies and corporations, there’s not enough benefit in the Apple platform to put up with the abuse and the outright disregard for the market’s needs.  After all, there’s a whole big world out there.  Jobs might be the one who built the thing, but once everyone else catches on, it’s only a matter of time before the innovation becomes standard and the fight for market domination begins in earnest.  Technology is not like the Project Runway Slogan: One day you’re in and the next day you’re out!  It is a Learning System, where failures can lead to great successes and incremental changes can lead to market domination.


Gartenberg is right.  It’s not about Open Vs. Closed Systems; but it’s not about mass market either.  And, while Jobs is trying to make it about the Application Development Platform, such a focus may prove to be a dead end.  Ultimately, this battle is about innovation, which is what Jobs should be focused on maintaining because innovation is his place in the Tech Eco-system.  If Jobs wants mass market domination, he will have to let go of innovation and focus on more mundane things, like product support.   Warring with other eco-system dwellers for market domination will only net the inevitability that someone other than Apple will dominate the mobile marketplace.  Steve Jobs just doesn’t have the patience for the incremental nature of market domination. In a year or two, when everything has run its course, Steve will be onto the neXT big thing.  If given the opportunity, he will, without a doubt, blow our minds again.  The iPhone and iPad will be classic, or discontinued completely like so many of Apple’s unsupported products (I still have one of those awesome Mac Cubes, which, while totally cool, was only supported for about six months by Apple).  Those of us who are tech-savvy know Steve J obs.  We’ve watched him wage these battles time and time again.  We have watched his disinterest in domination activities, especially after that next thing comes along.  We, the tech-savvy consumers understand.  Unless Steve Jobs changes dramatically, he’s going to get that innovation itch.  When that happens, his desire for total market domination will be tossed aside.  Like a fresh wind blowing away the stale air of technical mundanity, Steve Jobs will rise up, and he will innovate.

So don’t buy into the hype.  Instead, focus on Jobs’ next act in disruptive technology.  And, if you must have a war, watch what happens as the rest of the market battles it out for their place in the quadrant.

As always, I look forward to hearing what you tech-savvys (and even mass market folks) have to say.


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The Next Tech War: Mobile Applications Development Platforms

The Next Tech War: Mobile Applications Development Platforms

This Means War! Today, Adobe launches the highly anticipated Creative Suite 5 (CS5). The most anticipated feature of CS5 is the ability to develop applications using Flash technologies and compile the application so it will run in Apple’s iPhone. The great thing about this, from Adobe’s perspective, is that it allows hundreds of thousands of Flash developers the ability to develop iPhone, iPod, and iPad games, as well as other applications, using Adobe Flash (instead of Apple’s Objective-C) to develop those applications.

The CS5 launch comes just one week after Apple released the new iPad to rave reviews. Apple already dominates the Mobile Device Applications market with their iPhone and iPod Touch apps. Later this month, Microsoft will be launching their new .net 4, SharePoint 2010, Silverlight 4.0, and VisualStudio 2010, along with Office 2010. They will also be launching the new Windows Phone 7 platform later this year.

Here’s where it gets interesting, after working together for 2 years to develop the CS5 compiler, Apple and Adobe seem to have come to a parting of ways last Thursday, with agents of both companies tossing verbal artillery rounds at one another.  From Apple’s perspective, Adobe wants Flash, rather than Apple’s Objective C, to be the de facto standard on the Apple platform. Apple’s response to Adobe’s bare-handed grab at domination: a change to Apple’s Terms of Service agreement for the iPhone Developer Kit.  On Thursday, hyped by the success of the iPad release, Apple banned the use of a third-party compiler, i.e. CS5.  The 2 years of collaboration was at an end.

In a PaidContent.Org article, Steve Jobs was characterized as saying the reason for Apple’s decision to ban CS5 iPhone development was that “Apple doesn’t want apps to work the same across devices; it wants iPhone/iPad apps to be singular and best used on its own devices.”  The article describes an e-mail conversation between Apple’s CEO, Steve Jobs and Greg Slepak where Steve Jobs compliments the coverage of John Gruber’s Blog posting explaining why Apple Changed Section 3.3.1 of their Terms of Service agreement for the iPhone Developer Kit.

What about Adobe?  Were they trying to steal market share from Objective-C and make Flash CS5 the de facto standard, or were they just trying to be responsive to the marketplace?  Lee Brimlow, Platform Evangelist for Adobe, had this to say on his blog, “Adobe and Apple has had a long relationship and each has helped the other get where they are today. The fact that Apple would make such a hostile and despicable move like this clearly shows the difference between our two companies. All we want is to provide creative professionals an avenue to deploy their work to as many devices as possible. We are not looking to kill anything or anyone…”  Brimlow ends his post with the following: “Go Screw Yourself Apple.”

Anyone who has been in the tech industry long enough knows that it’s an industry where rules are made to be broken, and, in this Mashup mobilized world that we techies inhabit, if there is any rule to which we expect our tech trailblazers to adhere, it is this: Don’t be evil.  Those three simple words encompass two decades of geek-class shenanigans that would hot flash Shirley Temple curls bone-straight.  Contrary to the thinly sprayed exterior of nerd gloss, the tech world is filled with evil genius.  World domination is only a by-product of outplaying the next guy.  These are chess moves, done in increments, so it’s only a matter of time until your opponent upends the playing field with disruptive tech.

So yeah, Apple punk-whacked Adobe, blasting the collaborative partnership in the process.  Apple not only aimed and fired, they fired with timing, making their announcement of the CS5 ban the weekend of the CS5 launch.  It’s Apple, people.  Just because a new generation thinks that Apple is cool, doesn’t mean that Apple is also nice.  Another thing to remember about Apple is this, for all that they like to put on the “We’re-just-like-you-only-cooler” act, if you’re a twenty-something developer raised with an open-source mindset, they are not “just like you.”  Apple is old-school brawl.  They cut their baby teeth on Bill Gates’ thick dome and Larry Ellison’s faux zen.  They wear desktop mentality like a high-powered weapon, meaning they have always held a closed platform view with proprietary application development policies.  The only thing that has changed is that they have gotten big enough to matter. Beyond Apple’s platform view, rumblings of Apple’s discontent with Adobe have been reported as early as January 2010.  In a Wired article, Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, reportedly said this of Adobe:  “They are lazy.  They have all this potential to do interesting things but they just refuse to do it . . . Apple does not support Flash because it is so buggy. Whenever a Mac crashes more often than not it’s because of Flash. No one will be using Flash. The world is moving to HTML5.”

It’s Your Move, Playa:

With all the furor over the Apple / Adobe rift, it’s easy to forget that there are other players in the Mobile Device and Applications Development Platform business.  The two biggest are Google and Microsoft. Like Adobe, Google has also recently entered the Application Development market. Like Apple, they have introduced their own operating system and mobile platform, Web OS, which runs on the Android phone. Unlike Apple, Google is utilizing an open platform strategy.  Their goal is to lure programmers away from Apple by offering openness and flexibility in opposition to Apple’s proprietary control. There are very few limitations on Google’s Android phone, and developers are free to develop apps any way they choose.

Finally, there’s Microsoft, which has been competing with Adobe Flash through their Silverlight product. Microsoft has also been competing with Apple and Android in the mobile phone and Appliance Device markets.

A good fight is fun to watch, but Who Wins?

It’s a geek throw-down, but don’t get caught up in the drama.  For the rest of us, the focus should be on the marketplace. GetJar statistics shows 6 major leaders in the mobile phone market: Nokia, Sony-Ericsson, Samsung, LG, BlackBerry, and Motorola. Combined, the top 6 command 80.53 % of the market as of April 6, 2010. Nokia has nearly 51.99% of the market, almost 40% over Sony-Ericsson, the number 2 player, which has 13.08% market share. The iPhone only has 0.1% of market.  Google has less than 0.01% of the market.

As for the Application Development market, or as it is now called in the web age, the Rich Internet Application market, it’s all about adoption rates, and according to Stat Owl, Flash has the full support of the marketplace with an adoption rate of 96.11%.  Oracle’s Java is in second place with an adoption rate of 79.14%.  Microsoft’s Silverlight is in third place with a 47.25% adoption rate.

This is a fight over which tool kit developers are using to develop applications, particularly mobile applications.  With the iPhone, Apple created a new beast.  It is not one thing or another.  It is a personal device that does a lot of what people want it to do.  That’s why it’s such a phenomena.  It is a category all its own with integrated music, movies, phone, notes, etc.  With its Apps store, Apple has made it’s platform the “gold rush” for developers trying to become programming millionaires. It’s an opportunity unlike anything seen since Microsoft was minting millionaires in the early 80’s.  To develop Apps for Apple, you have to learn Objective-C, but that’s not the real problem.  The real problem is that the only thing you can do with Objective-C is what Steve Jobs wants you do to with Objective-C.  Adobe called foul on this totalitarian view, ostensibly for the sake of their hard-earned 96.11 % market share.

So who wins?  Microsoft. Here’s why…

Why Microsoft Wins:

In the Application Development Tools Market, Microsoft is already the winner and has been for a decade. They dominate the desktop operating system market, and business applications tools development. Adobe and Apple have always been playing catch up to Microsoft in the applications development market. Granted, Microsoft fell behind when Apple leapfrogged them with both their music player and their phone / mobile operating system. They also fell behind Adobe when Adobe leapfrogged them with Flash, allowing non-programmers to build business and marketing applications. However, Microsoft has been coming on really strong over the last year on a number of fronts.

Microsoft Silverlight is in the 4th year of development, it’s now a viable development and user platform that blows Flash out of the water. Adobe has been playing catch up to Microsoft since 2008 because of the advances in Silverlight version 3, and now 4.0. Adobe has been struggling to deliver an integrated “Managed Code” development environment.

In terms of the mobile devices, Microsoft is a huge winner with the introduction of the Ford Sync product. Also, Microsoft is just announcing their all new Windows Phone 7 platform that will run on Nokia, Sony-Ericsson, Samsung, and LG phones. This means that Microsoft will be in a position to dominate the mobile phone OS battle because they’ll have their operating system on the phone manufacturers which currently dominate 80% of the market.

Microsoft’s new Windows Phone 7 OS allows you to play music and video, and run applications, just like the iPhone. Plus, it runs on a Silverlight-based operating system for a rich internet application experience. The Windows Phone 7, Silverlight OS, allows for codecs and DRM encoded streaming media, animation, motion sensing, multi-touch interface, location awareness, and push notifications. In other words, it has every feature the iPhone has and several new ones.

One other thing: Windows Phone 7 also has support for high performance gaming through the Microsoft XNA framework. XNA is a game development platform that will allow developers to build very complex interactive games for mobile devices. The XNA framework also allows users to interact via their Xbox Live account for multi-player gamer experiences.


Apple, Adobe, and Microsoft all have huge releases coming out this month. While Apple and Adobe are fighting about Flash iPhone Applications and trying to get Flash to play on the iPhone and iPad, Microsoft is quietly leapfrogging them both. I believe that Microsoft will emerge as the ultimate winner of the Application Development Platform of choice.


For the record, I own 4 iPhones, I have 3 Macs, and 4 PC’s. I had a Windows Mobile Smart Phone until the iPhone came out, then I converted.

Your thoughts?

Do you agree or disagree? I’d love to hear your thoughts.



Posted by on April 12, 2010 in Featured, TechKnowledgy Articles


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