Thursday, April 29, 2010

Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen Responds to Apple's "Thoughts on Flash"

The Journal’s Alan Murray had an exclusive interview with Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen Thursday afternoon, and Digits live-blogged the event. Highlights are below. Excerpts of the video are set to be available on the News Hub live show at 4 p.m., with the full video to follow. This is a response to Apple's "Thoughts on Flash" by Steve Jobs.

2:36 pm
Alan Murray begins the interview, calling Mr. Jobs's missive an "extraordinary attack." He asks Mr. Narayen what Adobe has done to deserve this.

2:40 pm
Mr. Narayen says that the difference is that Adobe believes in open content. He says that their Creative Suite software was designed to work on multiple devices and that Apple's "recent behavior shows that they are concerned about Adobe being able" to provide this product that works across multiple platforms.

2:43 pm
Mr. Murray likens the Apple-Adobe fight to that between reality TV stars Jon and Kate Gosselin and asks about the history between the two companies. Mr. Narayen says that Adobe has been "true to the position" with which it was founded and to the idea that it should help people deal with multiple operating systems.

2:45 pm
Mr. Narayen talks about Adobe "certainly" shipping on Android's latest version. He says that it is an "incredibly productive time" for Adobe and discusses Creative Suite 5, saying that Adobe's "innovation is blowing people away."

2:47 pm
The technology problems that Mr. Jobs mentions in his essay are "really a smokescreen," Mr. Narayen says. He says more than 100 applications that used Adobe's software were accepted in the App Store. "When you resort to licensing language" to restrict this sort of development, he says, it has "nothing to do with technology."

2:49 pm
He says that Apple's restrictiveness is just going to make it "cumbersome" for developers who are trying to make products that work on many devices. They're going to have to have "two workflows" ...  one for Apple devices and one for others.

2:51 pm
Speaking about Mr. Jobs's assertion that Adobe is the No. 1 cause of Mac crashes, Mr. Narayen says if Adobe crashes Apple, that actually has something "to do with the Apple operating system."

2:52 pm
Mr. Narayen calls accusations about Flash draining battery power "patently false." Speaking about Mr. Jobs's letter in general, he says that "for every one of these accusations made there is proprietary lock-in" that prevents Adobe from innovating.

2:53 pm
Mr. Narayen poses a question to Alan Murray, asking him if the Journal would "want to have stovepipes" -- or separate development processes -- when it is creating content. Mr. Murray says that certainly "it would be better if you could use one set" of development tools.

2:53 pm
Mr. Narayen says Adobe's concept is best for most businesses that are developing applications and allows them to send their apps out to many places rather than forcing them to decide on just one. "It doesn't benefit Apple, and that's why you see this reaction," he says.

2:54 pm
Responding to a question about Mr. Jobs's assertion that Adobe is a closed platform, Mr. Narayen chuckles. "I find it amusing, honestly. Flash is an open specification," he says.

2:55 pm
The Journal wants to know whether Mr. Narayen knows Steve Jobs. "I've met him on a number of occasions," he says.

2:55 pm
"We have different views of the world," Mr. Narayen says. "Our view of the world is multi-platform."

2:56 pm
Does Mr. Narayen use an iPhone? "I have a Google Nexus One device," he says. And what about the iPad? "I think it's a good first-generation device. I think you're going to see just tremendous innovation in terms of tablets." Adobe is, in fact, working with "dozens" of tablet projects with other companies, he says.

2:57 pm
To conclude, Mr. Narayen says he's for "letting customers decide," but that the multi-platform world will "eventually prevail." And the interview wraps up.

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