Saturday 05.01.2010 | 1:23 PM EDT
Smoke + Mirrors: Adobe CEO
Shantanu Narayen Responds to
Steve Jobs’ Position on Mobile Flash
Guess what? My Mac’s Safari browser just crashed while watching a Flash video on The Wall Street Journal (scroll down to watch it). The subject? Adobe’s response to Steve Jobs’ recent arguments agains using Flash on Apple mobile devices. But let’s put that aside for now. In my last post on this debate, I did my best to be humble; to refrain from partisanship as much as an Apple fanatic is capable; and to give any of you the opportunity to fill in the gaps in my knowledge on this subject.
When I read Steve Jobs’ Thoughts on Flash, I noted how struck I was by what seemed like Steve’s relatively dispassionate position on this subject. Maybe my vision is blurred while reading between the lines, but Jobs’ arguments were not delivered with his typical bravado (i.e. arrogance). It seems to me that point by point, Steve proposed lucid, practical reasons for not embracing Adobe Flash’s on Apple mobile devices. Maybe that’s just me. But:
What was glaringly obvious to me during Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen’s rebuttal was his delivery of the same lame corporate marketing bromides you hear at every mid-level management meeting across America: “value proposition.” “world vision.” “delivery mechanism that allows us to amortize investment.” Who is us? Whose investment?
The interviewer points out that Steve’s response seemed “personal” and “nasty.” It’s no secret Mr. Jobs can be an arrogant ass and a real tyrant. But you don’t see many titans of industry adopting the genteel protocol of Victorian drawing rooms (nor the watered down language of corporate marketing). Asshole he may be, but he delivers innovation like no other technology company in recent history and does it with a confidence and panache that comes from nowhere if not straight from his heart. Even with all his faults, his recent response did not feel like the tantrum of a man that is used to having his way. I detected no belligerence or defensiveness in the tone of his language. More importantly, I felt informed by Jobs’ response. In contrast, Adobe’s response felt like a sales pitch worthy of an alternate Glenngary Glenn Ross script.
I was sincerely hoping to hear countering arguments that completed the picture for me. I have no interest in debunking Adobe in favor of my beloved iPhone. I simply wanted facts, straight up. I wanted specifics that would enable me to defend either side of this debate with informed intelligence. Unless I forgot to take out my earplugs (I did not play my drums last night), I couldn’t cobble together a single lucid piece of information from the smorgasbord of Narayen’s clichéd language. He even uses the word “factoid” to bolster his own weak arguments. Consumers, and certainly technology professionals, are not interested in something as politically slanted as a “factoid,” which is defined as “a brief or trivial item of news or information. An assumption or speculation that is reported and repeated so often that it becomes accepted as fact.” Seems like Mr. Narayen needs to polish his rhetorical skills if he hopes to present viable arguments to this debate.
Narayen uses the word “smokescreen” multiple times to describe Steve’s “allegations”. That’s where this man’s credibility completely fell apart for me. The interviewer repeatedly asked him to respond to the specific points in Jobs’ agenda. He responded to none of these in any substantive, factual manner, choosing instead to continue using corporate platitudes to deflect pointed questions. Wait a minute. Isn’t that a smokescreen? His whining tone, flimsy language and closed body language tells the real story.
Narayen goes on to state that “technology is not the issue.” Do what? Ok, you lost me with that one, sir. Then he goes on to mention that InDesign, a print application, can bridge a development gap for an interactive platform? C’mon.
There’s plenty more in this interview that I could dissect and debunk. But I have little interest in tearing down a company that has gifted the world with Photoshop– an application that shakes my atheistic leanings through the sheer depth of it’s capabilities. But the bottom line is: hey, it would be great to have Flash on the iPhone/iPad. But if the rhetorical and business positions of these two guys are to be my only guide, then I’ll side with Steve and wait till a better solution comes along. Apple ain’t dumb. It can’t be that far off.
Can’t we all just get along? Watch the video below. Hope it doesn’t crash your Mac.
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