Why an intermediate layer on top of the iPhone ultimately hurts users

Thu, Apr 15, 2010


This past weekend, Apple CEO Steve Jobs explained why the new iPhone developer agreement forbids the use of apps developed with cross platform development tools. The most notable victim of this new rule is Adobe, whose Flash-to-iPhone compiler was a heavily touted feature in its new CS 5 suite of software.

“We’ve been there before,” Jobs wrote via email, “and intermediate layers between the platform and the developer ultimately produces sub-standard apps and hinders the progress of the platform.”

On that note, Steven Wei chimes in:

Imagine a scenario where Apple releases a bunch of new features in their iPhone SDK. Developers using the native platform have access to the new APIs immediately, and can begin incorporating those features into their applications.

Developers on an intermediary platform have to wait for the intermediary platform vendor to implement the new features and expose it in their APIs. The best case scenario is that the intermediary platform vendor figures out how to implement the new features in a timely fashion, allowing their developers to take advantage of them quickly.

Vendors with slow release cycles (I’m looking at you Adobe) end up creating an additional delay before developers on their platform can take advantage of the latest and greatest features from Apple. This is no good if Apple wants to be on the cutting edge.

And exacerbating the situation is Adobe’s historical inability to deliver their suite of apps to the Mac platform in a timely manner.  Remember how long it took them to deliver a native Intel version of Photoshop? So yeah, Apple’s new developer agreement has more to do with protecting their platform than it does with an inherently evil motivation to exert dictatorial control over developers.

Apple likes to control its own destiny, for better or worse, and the last thing it wants to do is leave the fate of its popular app store in the hands of a third party.


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1 Comments For This Post

  1. troodon Says:

    sure, every user would want their application to have the “latest and greatest” bells and whistles that apple might provide. but obviously, all applications should be be rebuilt to incorporate those changes. some apps might never be updated. will they be deleted from the store because their developeres have not updated them in, say, a couple months? yeah, apple likes to control their destiny but the message for development tool creators is clear: “taxes will be levied; send your payment to cupertino, or else”.

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