Trying to take a bite out of Apple

Adobe took its feud with Apple public, but it hasn't won support

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Last week, software-maker Adobe took the unusual step of taking out full-page advertisements in major newspapers to say “We [heart symbol] Apple,” the popular maker of iPods, iPhones, and now iPads. But—in a confusing twist—the ads also say that Adobe loves things like creativity and innovation, but they don’t love it when someone takes away “your freedom to choose what you create, how you create it and what you experience on the Web.”

Get it? You’re not alone. The strange ad campaign is being viewed as a rebuke to Apple’s refusal to support Adobe’s Flash software, used to play an estimated 75 per cent of online videos. Adobe understandably doesn’t like being frozen out of a ballooning market for video on the iPhone and iPad, and accuses Apple of behaving like a control freak. Apple CEO Steve Jobs, meanwhile, outlined Apple’s position in a lengthy posting last week on the company’s website. He derided Flash as too power-hungry and made for desktop PCs, not slick touchscreen devices.

While the dispute is no doubt impacting consumers who want to watch video on their shiny new iPads, Adobe’s ploy is unlikely to win it support, industry watchers say. “Adobe has become, to many home users, somewhat invisible,” writes Rob Pegoraro, a tech columnist at the Washington Post. “It doesn’t make products that customers buy or download on their own; Flash is this mysterious component that somehow arrived with their Web browser.” All of which makes Adobe’s decision to take out ads in newspapers, or “dead tree media,” all the more vexing.

Apple, too, is guilty of missing the point. As Pegoraro suggests, iPad users who have trouble viewing videos on their new $700 devices aren’t going to wag their finger at a company best known for making Photoshop and PDF readers. They’re going to (frown face symbol) Apple and everyone else involved.