Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Adobe Seemingly Throws In The Towel In Fight With Apple

Despite the rumors that Adobe may take it's fight with Apple to the courtroom the company has apparent;y decided to throw in the towel and call it quits. Yesterday Adobe's Mike Chambers, Principal Product Manager for developer relations for the Flash Platform at Adobe, announced via his personal blog that the company would be officially dropping support for iPhone ports after CS5.

Chambers Writes:
A little over a week ago Apple released a new draft of their iPhone developer program license which contained the following clause:
3.3.1 — Applications may only use Documented APIs in the manner prescribed by Apple and must not use or call any private APIs. Applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine, and only code written in C, C++, and Objective-C may compile and directly link against the Documented APIs (e.g., Applications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool are prohibited).
Essentially, this has the effect of restricting applications built with a number of technologies, including Unity, Titanium, MonoTouch, and Flash CS5. While it appears that Apple may selectively enforce the terms, it is our belief that Apple will enforce those terms as they apply to content created with Flash CS5. Developers should be prepared for Apple to remove existing content and applications (100+ on the store today) created with Flash CS5 from the iTunes store.

We will still be shipping the ability to target the iPhone and iPad in Flash CS5. However, we are not currently planning any additional investments in that feature.

To be clear, during the entire development cycle of Flash CS5, the feature complied with Apple’s licensing terms. However, as developers for the iPhone have learned, if you want to develop for the iPhone you have to be prepared for Apple to reject or restrict your development at anytime, and for seemingly any reason. In just the past week Apple also changed its licensing terms to essentially prohibit ad networks other than its own on the iPhone, and it came to light that Apple had rejected an application from a Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist on editorial grounds (which Apple later said was a “mistake”).

In his post Chambers pretty much nails every sentiment I've had regarding Apple and the App store. No I'm not an Apple hater, and no I'm not an MS fanboy, but if the shoe was on the other foot and a company like Microsoft tried to limit the inclusion of Apps based on the same reasoning Apple has listed for removing (or dis-including) them we'd be talking about another MS anti-trust lawsuit or court case.

Apple is using their position to create an un-level playing field and thus engaging in anti-competitive practices. Sure they aren't the only game in town, sure there is Android, Palm, Windows Phone 7, RIM, etc. but they do hold a rather high market share and are a pure monopoly when it comes to Apple products.

Personally I had hoped that Adobe would have tried to make a stand and would have tried to fight to force Apple's hand. Now of course the fact they aren't planning additional investments in the porting tool doesn't mean the fight is over. It simply means at this time they are moving away from the fire.

Fanboy or not, you've got to admit it would be nice to see some of the strangle hold Apple has over Apps and development loosened. You shouldn't have to jailbreak your device, or take up a new programing language in order to appease the Apple gods! 

The its their device argument, my rant begins!

I can't tell you how many times I've heard people (mainly Apple fanboys) say its their device and its their App store they can control it how they want. Come on folks open your eyes here. Imagine for a second that Intel or AMD decided that everyone with a PC based on their platform had to run the OS and Apps they choose. Would you not be complaining then?

Intel is involved in the Meego Project, an open source Linux variant OS for netbooks and mobiles. What if they suddenly said every Intel based PC (Macs included) had to run Meego. I guarantee shit would hit the fan!! So please don't give me this nonsensical argument that they can do with their platform what they want.

Apple seem to be held to a slightly different standard than everyone else and they shouldn't be. Nor should Apple fans blindly accept that its their product and they can control it. Everyone should want an open cross-platform environment that allows good friendly competition. Not a restrictive market that can be closed at a whim.

UPDATE Via CNet: Apple has responded to Adobe’s move "Someone has it backwards--it is HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, and H.264 (all supported by the iPhone and iPad) that are open and standard, while Adobe's Flash is closed and proprietary," said spokeswoman Trudy Miller in a statement.

Apple pointing to open standards doesn't impress me. Yes we know CSS, JS and HTML5 are open, that however doesn't mean much when you are dealing with a closed market. The fact that Apple has the power to arbitrarily block a platform or app on whatever basis it decides is my main issue.

If iPhone/iPad users want Flash, and apparently they do then why not be truly open and allow the apps. As Chambers pointed out there are 100's of Apps already approved and in the App store that were built using the Flash-iPhone porting tool that can or will become victims of the new developer program license. If that's truly the case and these Apps are being used, and formerly approved then why not open the standards and accept more? Obviously there was no harm done with the previous Apps.

Note to Apple, just because you support development on an open platform doesn't make you an open no proprietary, cross-development friendly environment.

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