Enabling innovation isn't magic.

On Wednesday I expressed some of my concerns about the new iPad, and the expanding footprint of closed platforms built by Apple. Since then, Apple has posted a video of the keynote, and it turns out that in a span of about 2 minutes browsing the web, there are at least 5 instances where there is broken web content. I’ve also spent a lot of time the last two days talking with people about how Apple could consider this a great browsing experience. It’s perplexing.

Unfortunately, a lot of the speculation I’m hearing for why Flash Player isn’t on the iPad doesn’t make sense:

  • “Flash technology isn’t open” — The Flash file format specifications are open and unrestricted, so Apple can build their own Flash Player if they want. If Apple wants the source code to the Flash Player, we’re happy to provide it, just as we have to many other device manufacturers.
  • “Apple doesn’t want to pay for Flash Player” — Apple can put it on the iPad (and iPhone) without paying Adobe or anyone a dime. The Flash Player has always been free to all consumers worldwide, and is available to device makers royalty free through the Open Screen Project. There are dozens of other devices that do that today.
  • “I don’t want Flash on my iPad (or iPhone)” — That’s fine, we support your ability to choose, and don’t want to require Flash Player on any device. But we do want it to be an option for the millions of people who have requested it.
  • “Flash won’t perform well on the iPad (iPhone)” — It’s fast enough for other devices that have similar chips (and even less powerful chips) built on the ARM architecture. The Palm Pre, Google Nexus One, Motorola Droid, and other devices all run beta versions of Flash Player 10.1 beautifully.
  • “HTML5 is replacing Flash” — This is a red herring to justify keeping a platform closed by drawing attention to another open technology. HTML5 and Flash are in no way exclusive. As with HTML4 and Flash, there are some use cases that can be served with either technology, but there are also many cases where the technologies serve different purposes. As on Android devices, HTML 5 and Flash can both easily be supported on this and future devices.

But I want to be very clear. My concern isn’t just about Flash on the iPad. It’s about a disturbing trend where Apple is starting to inhibit broad categories of innovation on their platforms. On the iPad, it looks like developers won’t be able to write applications in Java, .net, Python, Ruby, Perl, or any number of other languages (including Flash). And users won’t be able to install Firefox, Opera,IE, or any third party browser. There are countless other examples of applications and technologies that Apple doesn’t allow. Why? Apple won’t say.

And innovation isn’t just about technology, it’s also about business models. Developers on this new platform aren’t able to innovate there either. At best, developers targeting the iPad are subject to a 30% Apple Tax in the App Store. And at worst, developers invest time and money building a product that can never be brought to market, because the only channel is one that is centrally controlled and entirely opaque. In every case, Apple is a gatekeeper on how developers are able to deliver content to their consumers.

Over time, restrictions on technology and business opportunity have a chilling effect on innovation on closed platforms.

Enabling innovation doesn’t require magic. It requires open platforms. Apple understood this with the Mac OS. Remember the original Macintosh advertisements? On a Mac, any developer can build any app they want, and deliver it through any channel. At Adobe, we love our Macs and are one of the largest developers of software for the Mac.

iPad could be a great source for innovation. It would be a disappointment to see that wasted by keeping it closed to outside innovation to protect the Apple Tax.

At Adobe, we’re seeing a similar shift towards the opening of mobile platforms. Google’s Android OS is at the front of this effort, as are more than 50 participants in the Open Screen Project who are working to provide open access and a consistent runtime for devices.

We hope to enable platforms where developers can build what they want. Where they can freely choose which technologies they want to use. Where they have direct access to users, and flexibility in how they take their creations to market. The web has proven to be a powerful engine of innovation because it provided unprecedented freedom to developers and users.

Apple's iPad — a broken link?

As I drove by Yerba Buena Theater in San Francisco this morning, I couldn’t help but be impressed. Apple certainly has the ability to excite people with great products, and with the iPhone they even managed to generate momentum for an entire product category. So it’s no surprise that the iPad looks like it’s a pretty good new device.

It was really exciting to see some of the technologies that Adobe has contributed to, like PDF and ePub support, taking center stage in the launch. Adobe technology is at the center of virtually every print and digital workflow, so undoubtedly a lot of what you¹ll see getting delivered to the iPad will have originated in Adobe creative software.

But, as a picture posted on Engadget shows (below), and many others have reported, there’s something important missing from Apple’s approach to connecting consumers to content.

iPad Flash Plugin Error

It looks like Apple is continuing to impose restrictions on their devices that limit both content publishers and consumers. Unlike many other ebook readers using the ePub file format, consumers will not be able to access ePub content with Apple’s DRM technology on devices made by other manufacturers.  And without Flash support, iPad users will not be able to access the full range of web content, including over 70% of games and 75% of video on the web.

If I want to use the iPad to connect to Disney, Hulu, Miniclip, Farmville, ESPN, Kongregate, or JibJab — not to mention the millions of other sites on the web — I’ll be out of luck.

Adobe and more than 50 of our partners in the Open Screen Project are working to enable developers and content publishers to deliver to any device, so that consumers have open access to their favorite interactive media, content, and applications across platform, regardless of the device that people choose to use.

To follow more from the Flash Platform Team about developments on all mobile devices, follow us at @Flash_Platform

Flash Player 10.1 coming to Motorola Droid

It’s been a big week for us here on the Flash Platform Team, with Flash Player 10.1 being shown publicly on a number of Android devices for the first time. Earlier today Motorola announced that we’ve been working with them on delivering Flash Player 10.1 for the Motorola DROID. Below is a quick video showing some great content that you’ll be able to access on the Droid, including the BBC, New York Times , and even some really cool animation done by the folks at AngryAlien.com

Flash Player 10.1 coming to Google Nexus One

Earlier today, Google announced their new [Nexus One ](http://www.google.com/phone). As part of the Open Screen Project, we’ve been working with Google to make sure that the Nexus One will have Flash Player 10. It’s got a very powerful 1 GhZ chip made by Qualcomm, so you’ll be able to play a ton of games, watch video, and browse other Web content built with Flash. We’re still working on the finishing touches so Flash Player 10.1 isn’t available publicly yet, but we’ll deliver it over the air to existing phones once it’s available. In the meantime, I thought you might like to see this video of some examples Flash content running on this great new phone.

There will not be a beta for Flash Professional CS5

Adobe is no longer planning to release a public beta of Adobe Flash Professional CS5. This is a change from the plan that we announced in October at Adobe MAX 2009.

Since the original announcement we have seen a ton of interest in Flash Professional CS5 and the included Packager for iPhone. Developers in the pre-release program continue to provide great feedback and take advantage of the new features. We’ve also seen a number of new applications built using ActionScript 3 and delivered to the App Store.

We are changing our plans in reaction to this strong positive feedback. We want to make sure that we can provide the earliest possible delivery of the final software to the large number of designers and developers interested in Flash Professional CS5 and the included Packager for iPhone.

We understand that some people will be disappointed. Many of us were looking forward to a beta. But in the end, we think that what is most important is to get the release version completed and in your hands as quickly as possible.

Flash Player Download Center for iPhone

Yesterday a number of blogs started to discuss the content on the Flash Player download center for iPhone users. There have been some questions about the site, so I want to provide a little background on the page.

We currently get nearly three million visitors to this page each month from people who are looking for the Flash Player for their iPhone or iPod touch, many of whom were leaving the download center believing that either (1) Adobe didn’t want Flash on the iPhone or (2) the iPhone was somehow technically incapable of playing Flash content. Since neither of those is true, we are now explaining to those visitors that Apple holds the key in getting Flash Player onto the device.

The language was compact and to the point both because of the constraints of the page (this is displayed only to the iPhone) and the audience (consumers who are looking for the Flash Player aren’t interested in reading a long piece of text). I also want to mention that Apple and Adobe have a strong partnership in many areas, but, Apple has not provided the level of support required to deliver the Flash Player to the iPhone. Nearly every other industry player is working with us in getting Flash technology onto their devices and platforms. These partners are making critical, high value investments in delivering Flash Player on mobile devices, on netbooks, and in the digital home.

To be clear, Adobe wants to make Flash Player 10.1 available for the iPhone and with Apple’s support we’re ready to do the work — just as we and our partners are doing for Blackberry, Palm webOS, Android, Symbian, Windows Mobile, and many other platforms to give users uncompromised access to the web.

Welcome to the Flash Platform Blog

For our inaugural Flash Platform blog posting I want to begin with some important news. The Flash Player penetration statistics have just recently been updated and Flash Player 10 is now installed on 86.7% of Internet-connected desktop computers in mature markets, which is the fastest the Web has ever adopted new innovation.

Since the first release of the Flash Player, Flash has been a leading source of innovation for the Web. From salesforce.com to facebook, from Nike to picnik, from Google to The New York Times our users are constantly finding a new ways to use Flash to make the Web better. That is why Flash has become the most popular way to deliver applications, video and interactive content on the Web.

It’s gotten to be such a big tent, that it’s hard to find a single place that covers the highlights across the full range of Flash Platform tools, technologies, partners, and communities. This blog should help with that — as we find out about important news related to Flash, we’ll post it here.

Welcome to the Flash Platform blog.