Putting It Another Way

I’ve thought quite a bit about this Apple, Adobe, and Flash issue. I think it comes down to this: Adobe is saying “Hardware doesn’t matter.” They have an idea for an app (for a smartphone) or an idea for a desktop application (for a Mac or a PC), and then they try to make it run on all of the machines they can. They don’t care which phone you use– iPhone, Droid, Blackberry, something else– they just want to get their program to work on it, and if they’re able to make it work on your phone, you can be sure that it will look exactly the way it looks on someone else’s phone. Even if you have an iPhone with lots of cool hardware features, and the other guy has some other phone that isn’t as good. Adobe starts “at the top” with an idea of how they want their app to work. The hardware that it runs on is irrelevant to them.

Same thing with their desktop applications (Photoshop, InDesign, etc.). They have an idea of what their program should be, and then they try to fit it onto Macs and onto PCs. They ignore much of what makes a Mac special, because that’s not interesting to them. Adobe’s focus is on getting Photoshop to run on as many machines as possible– and to look exactly the same, whether you’re running a Mac or a PC. Again, the hardware doesn’t matter to them.

The problem with this, of course, is that some machines are simply better than others. Some phones have accelerometers, and GPS devices, and touch screens. Others don’t. Macs have features that PCs don’t, notably the Mac OS X operating system and a set of user interface guidelines that make using a Mac a consistent, predicable experience– unless you’re using Adobe applications, with their own Print and Save As and Open dialog boxes, a complete thumbing of the nose to the ones Apple provides for all developers to use.

If you’re making smoothies it doesn’t really matter if your blender is a Waring or a Hamilton Beach. If you’re painting a house you can use a brush from Ace or from Home Depot (but use the one from Home Depot, I have stock). In cases like that, nobody cares about the hardware, because when you get right down to it all blenders blend, and all paint brushes paint, and there’s not a lot of difference between them. When you’re dealing with phones, and desktop/laptop computers, there IS a lot of difference between the offerings from different companies, and when Adobe ignores those differences, you (the iPhone and Mac owner) end up with the same crummy experience that people with lesser phones and computers get. And it’s not very good.

In my opinion, hardware DOES matter. It matters a lot. So does the operating system. Adobe doesn’t think so, Apple does, and that’s the root of this conflict.


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