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iPad Faces Increasing Competition From Android, Says Adobe CEO

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FLASH IN THE PAN?
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After Dell's global head of marketing Andy Lark used fuzzy math to say iPad will fail, after HP's European head Eric Cador said the HP TouchPad will be "number one plus," we have Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen warning that Apple's iPad faces increasing competition from Android in the near future.

Well, at least Narayen was a little more level-headed in his prediction.

Sitting down with tech curmudgeon Walt Mossberg at the All Things Digital D9 conference, Narayen spoke about Adobe's relationship with Apple. He mentioned that the feud between the two companies is finished, saying, "Yes, the argument is over from our point of view." Adding, "We are so excited about opportunities we have. We're focused on that."

Although the olive branch was purportedly exchanged, things got a little heated when Mossberg addressed Cupertino's refusal to run Adobe's Flash platform on iOS devices. Narayen responded:

"There are a lot of misperceptions out there. When it first broke, people talked about the fact that they thought it was a technology issue, and I think it's become fairly clear over the last year that it's not about the technology: It's about a business model issue. It's about control of a platform. It's the control of the app store that's really at issue here. The value proposition Flash has is that we allow people to author programs once and get them to as many devices as possible. We've done that with Android. We will have 130 million phone devices that will have Flash on them by the end of the year."

Mossberg then took the wind out of the CEO's sails by saying, "And I have yet to test a single one where Flash works really well. I'm sorry. They struggle on those Android devices."

Youch!

But Flash detractors haven't curbed Narayen's enthusiasm about Android tablets. He sees the future of the iPad's competitors to closely follow the trajectory of iPhone competitors. "What you saw with smartphones hitting an inflection point with Android, you'll see it again with tablets," Narayen said. "There will be another 20 tablets that will come by the end of the year that will push the industry in different directions." Adding, "I think the community is vibrant. I'm really excited."

OK, granted, the market will be much fuller next year. And there's always a chance a competitor can come along and start nipping at the heels of the iPad. Motorola Xoom didn't quite make it, but maybe the HP TouchPad or the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 will gain some traction. Possibly.

But looking at the numbers now, the iPad is so far in the lead. As of last month, Apple's tablet had an 82% market share. Its closest competitor was the Samsung Galaxy Tab with 4%, followed by the Dell Streak at 3% and the Motorola Xoom at 2%. That's a long way to the top.

Even iPad's competitors have cut back on production -- building fewer tablets than originally planned -- something which J.P. Morgan analyst Mark Moskowitz called a "dose of reality."

I'm not saying iPad won't ever fall behind a glut of Android tablets, or even a single device. But it's difficult to envision a scenario when that'll happen any time soon.

However, I can safely assume that the ASUS PadFone and Jonney Shih's abilities as a presenter won't be the ones to do it.

(See also: Adobe Flash Is Doomed, Says Firefox VP and Apple Goes Nuclear in War Against Adobe Flash)

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