This round of Flash/iPhone stories

Last Friday Bloomberg.com asked Adobe’s CEO about Apple’s iPhone, and reported:

“‘It’s a hard technical challenge, and that’s part of the reason Apple and Adobe are collaborating,’ Narayen said today in a Bloomberg Television interview from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. ‘The ball is in our court. The onus is on us to deliver.'”

I saw it Friday afternoon in SF, and by Saturday evening it was all over Techmeme, then picked up on Sunday with the newspapers. Many, many pageviews, just from those three little sentences in a newspaper.

I checked with Adobe PR folks today, and the sense I get is that it’s just as innocuous as it sounds… no new info, no news. That “iPhone Question” is usually asked whenever an Adobe exec is interviewed… you’ve probably heard it asked at tradeshows too. Sometimes it “pops” in subsequent commentary. There was no news announced or hinted here, though.

If you’re reading for iPhone news, stop there. If you’re reading for Flash news, keep reading. ;-)

There is one thing you can count on in all this. Adobe is committed to making it easier to publish. Establish a new capability, build atop it with others, cannibalizing yourself if necessary, all the while surfing the new platform curves. It’s Adobe’s corporate DNA to innovate standards, transforming the company along the way… it’s the core part of the corporate culture here.

It should become as easy to publish a screen, as it already is to publish a book or a video. Not just to your computer, not just to your phone, but to any digital screen in your environment. Interactive publishing must become easier, more accessible, more economical for more people.

And Adobe’s betting on Flash to do it.

I think it’s an achievable goal. Last March there were half-a-billion devices with Adobe Flash runtimes, and analysts predicted a doubling by 2010. But it looks like we’ve already hit one billion shipping devices with Adobe Flash Lite capability, eighteen months early. Demand has been massive, higher than expected. And when Open Screen Project devices start shipping, things will pop wide open.

(Just how big is “one billion Flash mobiles shipped”? I hope Apple PR won’t mind me reminding that there have been 17 million iPhones sold, a 60:1 disparity… for every iFart or Sound Grenade, there are two entire Flash-savvy devices out there. A billion devices is still a drop in the bucket, compared to getting everybody wired, but we’re on our way to doing so. Future’s coming very fast.)

If you want to understand Adobe’s goals, think of universal publishing platforms… new types of capability with widespread support. Options, not mandates. There are no conflicting priorities about selling a device, selling an OS, selling a data service. “Innovate a platform and build atop it”, that’s the driver. Adobe’s betting on establishing new publishing capability across the range of screens you see.

It’d be great to get such screens atop Apple’s devices too. But work on the platform continues regardless. You can bet on that.

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[Comments will be on heavy moderation... seeking discussion of publishing capability, not more rumors or fanboyism, thanks. (And the above was written on my own, in an hour or two, without collaboration... please don't read too deeply into it!)]