Apple Officially Punts Adobe into the Air

Last week Apple (AAPL) introduced us to its new MacBook Air, and with it, announced its very public break-up with Adobe Flash.

Unlike devices like the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, none of which are capable of running Flash, the new MacBook Air is perfectly able, but completely unwilling to continue its partnership with Adobe Flash by having it pre-installed. Though MacBooks will still be capable of running the software, Apple says: If you want it, get it yourself.

So why the axe? In April 2010, Steve Jobs posted his “Thoughts on Flash”, a discussion of Apple’s relationship with Adobe and the reason Flash was not being included on the new iPad, as well as iPhone and iPod touch. According to Jobs’ note, Flash is a “closed” system, available solely through adobe, controlled only by Adobe. Apple was not interested in a “closed” relationship. Instead, Jobs cited a move to HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript, all “open” standards, and said that he didn’t think Apple device users would be much affected by the move away from Flash, as most Flash content online can also be viewed using H.264. He also said that running Flash negatively impacted battery life, and that devices running H.264 lasted up to twice as long. After huge success with its new iPad, Apple was inspired to create the new MacBook Air, which like the iPad incorporates all-flash storage, a Multi-Touch trackpad, and lightweight durability. And in their desire to continue moving forward, Apple decided to leave Adobe Flash behind.

In addition to its being a “closed” and generally unnecessary and easily replaceable application, according to Jobs, Adobe Flash has been having security issues, and is the number one reason why Macs crash. While Apple was really trying to work things out with Adobe, their problems persisted for several years and Apple finally called it quits. “We don’t want to reduce the reliability and security of our iPhones, iPods and iPads by adding Flash,” said Jobs. And last week he publicly added the new MacBook Air to that list.

Now, like any jilted lover, Adobe is lashing back by giving itself a makeover and hooking up with Apple’s competition. On Monday, Adobe announced Air 2.5, which works with both Mac OS and Windows, as well as mobile operating systems. By early 2011, Air 2.5 will be coming pre-installed on some of the most popular mobile devices, including Blackberry, Android, and Windows Phone 7. Adobe’s latest platform can be used to create apps for Windows, Mac, Android, Blackberry and even TVs, but not for the iPhone or iPad. In its statement announcing Air 2.5, Adobe just couldn’t help mentioning that “Android has recently become the top mobile operating system in the United States, ahead of the Apple iOS, which powers the iPhone.” Ouch!

Consumers are those most likely to be affected by this catfight, but not necessarily in a bad way. They still have the option of running Flash on their MacBook Air and any future notebooks that will likely be sold without Adobe pre-installed, and after the initial frustration of having to download and install it themselves, everything will be just as it was before.

However, Mac users who side with Jobs will find that their battery life is greatly extended, and that most of the sites (though not all) that they have visited in the past will continue to work just as they did before. Furthermore, system crashes will hopefully become fewer and farther between.

And for those who still have an attachment to Adobe, it will not only be coming pre-installed on a lot of new, popular devices, but it has also upped its game, and functionality issues of the past will hopefully be remedied by Air 2.5, providing the consumer with a more reliable product.