Following Apple boss Steve Jobs' open letter explaining the company's decision
not to support Flash on its platforms, Adobe's co-founders are responding with a letter of their own
, advocating for the merit in open systems.
"We believe open markets are in the best interest of developers, content owners, and consumers," say Adobe's Chuck Geschke and John Warnock, crediting the transformative power of prolific content on the web.
The conflict between Apple and Adobe is particularly relevant to game developers since many top Web games use Adobe's Flash. Conversion of Flash games to Apple's systems like the iPhone and iPad -- or simply the ability to play the games in the devices' web browser -- might be straightforward if Apple permitted it.
"If the web fragments into closed systems, if companies put content and applications behind walls, some indeed may thrive but their success will come at the expense of the very creativity and innovation that has made the Internet a revolutionary force," warn the pair.
Adobe's advocacy for openness is, oddly enough, the same argument on which Apple has relied to explain its lack of Flash support. Apple calls Flash a "closed platform" -- since anyone that wants to develop for Flash must go through Adobe.
But in today's response, Geschke and Warnock take a different angle: "No company no matter how big or how creative should dictate what you can create, how you create it, or what you can experience on the web."
The Federal Trade Commission is investigating
the extent to which Apple is actually limiting competition on its platform. Although Jobs has asserted that Apple's decision about Flash is technology-driven and not business-driven, regulators are exploring the possibility that limitations on what development tools may be used on Apple apps is an antitrust violation.
Geschke and Warnock note that Adobe has always openly published specifications for its tools, such as PDF and Flash itself -- and while this attracts imitators, "Adobe Flash technology remains the market leader because of the constant creativity and technical innovation of our employees," they say.
However, it's notable that Flash is ultimately proprietary, not open-source software overseen by an open standard, like HTML5 is.
"We believe that Apple, by taking the opposite approach, has taken a step that could undermine this next chapter of the web the chapter in which mobile devices outnumber computers, any individual can be a publisher, and content is accessed anywhere and at any time," the co-founders add.
Concludes the letter: "In the end, we believe the question is really this: Who controls the World Wide Web? And we believe the answer is: nobody and everybody, but certainly not a single company."