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Adobe Rumored to Be Preparing Lawsuit Against Apple

How many times can Apple slap Adobe in the face before getting slapped back with a lawsuit? If this rumor is true, it’s two–and Apple just hit that number.

Hulu iPad screen

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ITWorld hears strong rumors from sources close to Adobe that the of-late embittered company will be suing Apple as a result of two major setbacks for Adobe in Apple’s iPhone OS platform. Lots of details are missing, but we know Adobe is steaming about Apple.

First, Apple refused to allow Flash on any iPhone OS platform. That’s rough, because the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad are major products, and Adobe doesn’t want to have one of their flagship pieces of software become useless. But Apple is perhaps unfairly singled out for this exclusion–after all, hardly any smartphones actually support Flash (the few that do, like the Google Nexus One, only support Flash Lite, anyway). That the iPad doesn’t support Flash is a setback, since many consider the tablet an ideal conveyance for online Flash video–but the iPad is still an iPhone OS device, after all.

No, the big slap in the face is the recent news that Apple will reject any app that has been originally encoded with Flash. That news is an unsung part of the iPhone 4.0 dev kit, recently announced. Many developers now, faced with many different platforms, choose to write their apps in Flash (or Microsoft Silverlight, or Adobe Air) and then use a converter to simply translate all that code to Objective C, Apple’s preferred language. Adobe even provides a commonly used such translator in Flash CS5, part of the brand-new Creative Suite.

That restriction is a problem for more than just Adobe. Remember that amazing Wired app we all gawked at before the iPad’s release? That was made in Adobe Air. So it’ll have to be hand-encoded from scratch in Objective C, instead of simply translated, which means big delays. Many of EA’s games are originally written in other languages. It’s a big pain in the ass, really. Apple’s stance is that apps converted from Flash or other unsupported languages run more poorly on their hardware. That’s true, sometimes, but developers are wondering if the trade-off is worth it.

There’s no word as to what, exactly, Adobe would be accusing Apple of, besides inconveniencing everybody. But given Adobe’s attitude toward Apple lately (one Adobe rep advised Apple to “go screw yourself” in a blog post), a lawsuit isn’t the most implausible of rumors. Still, though, it is totally unconfirmed, so we’ll have to wait until a suit is or is not filed before we know much more.

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About the author

Dan Nosowitz is a freelance writer and editor who has written for Popular Science, The Awl, Gizmodo, Fast Company, BuzzFeed, and elsewhere. He holds an undergraduate degree from McGill University and currently lives in Brooklyn, because he has a beard and glasses and that's the law

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