Adobe takes the bite out of Apple's Flash defence

Adobe has created a 'cheat' that allows its Flash video software to run on Apple devices - without Apple's blessing. Good job Apple's not a control freak. Oh, hang on...

by Dave Waller
Last Updated: 13 Sep 2011
You can always count on Apple to be contrary. Adobe’s Flash video software is used in more than 50% of websites, as well as being a staple of the Android operating system that powers rival smartphones and tablet computers. But the i-pioneer has always refused to allow it to work on its devices - saying it would compromise their reliability and security (Apple claims it drains power, while Flash has been a conduit for viruses and hacking in the past).

Now Adobe has released Flash Media Server 4.5, a solution for publishers who want videos stored in Flash to be visible on popular Apple products such as the iPhone, iPod and iPad. So for the first time ever the users of the iPad, who currently represent a whopping 73% of the UK’s 3.62m tablet users (according to new research by Kantar Worldpanel ComTech), will be able to access such content without simply winding up staring into a blank screen. While it’s a boon for web developers, in that it means they can appeal to both desktop PCs and Apple devices in one shot, it won’t work for every site – it’s down to the publisher to buy the software (for $4.5k) and run their website on it.

Indeed, it’ll be interesting to see whether this move represents a significant stay of execution for Adobe’s software: many say it’s little more than a half-way house solution that will soon buckle under pressure from new technologies like HTML5 – even Apple couldn’t stand in the way of that particular standard.

But while Adobe’s software may be far from ubiquitous, the move is still guaranteed to wind up Apple, which tends not to like its usually impenetrable homogenous fortress being tampered with. Call it another shot fired in what’s been a long-running bitter corporate battle. Apple is no stranger to those, of course: note its historic spats Microsoft and Apple, the Beatles’ record label. The Adobe fight is no less spiteful. In a famous blog post, one Adobe staffer said simply, 'Go screw yourself, Apple,' and described the company's approach as 'tyrannical'. Where did he get that idea from?

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