A great problem indeed
Adobe's updating definitely isn't what it should be. Adobe could choose the Apple approach -- install an updater utility that checks for updates and notifies the user -- but as far as I know, currently Flash and Adobe Reader will never phone home for updates unless they're already running. And I'm sure some Reg readers will commend this (arguably) less-intrusive approach. What definitely isn't cool is Flash's default check-for-updates interval of 30 days.
Perhaps the greatest problem with so many third party products, though, is that they can only be updated from an administrator account. Flash, Reader and Firefox suffer from this. I'm fairly certain that non-administrators won't even be notified that there are update(s) waiting, in the case of these three examples. Yet running day-to-day on an account with limited priviledges is something we are told we should do, and something I certainly recommend to all the people for whom I'm "the computer guy". So I think this is a great problem.