Adobe to stop development of Flash to iPhone compiler, will focus on Android

Wed, Apr 21, 2010


Well, it appears that Adobe got the hint.

Though not as sensationalized as a missing iPhone prototype, Apple created quite a stir a few weeks back when it updated its iPhone developer agreement with the following clause:

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).

Over the past two and a half years, Apple has made it more than clear that it has no plans to support Flash on any of its mobile products. Adobe, though, attempted to skirt around Apple’s intransigence with a Flash-to-iPhone compiler feature in their CS 5 suite of software. The aforementioned clause, however, stops Adobe in its tracks and renders any applications originally developed in Flash subject to rejection and utterly useless with respect to the iTunes App Store.

Apple’s updated developer agreement seemingly envelops other development technologies, such as Titanium and MonoTouch, and it remains to be seen how forcefully Apple chooses to enforce its new rule.

Adobe, though, isn’t taking any chances.

Adobe Flash project manager Mike Chambers wrote on his blog yesterday that Adobe will be shifting their mobile focus away from the iPhone and towards Android based devices instead.

“While it appears that Apple may selectively enforce the terms,” Chambers writes, “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.”

While Apple’s updated agreement has elicited a wave of criticism from people claiming that Apple is trying to own developers, more level-headed opinions suggest that Apple is simply trying to maintain control over their own platform by ensuring a consistent user experience.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs even chimed in on the debate. “We’ve been there before,” Jobs wrote in an email, “and intermediate layers between the platform and the developer ultimately produces sub-standard apps and hinders the progress of the platform.”

More specifically, Steven Wei explains how a tool like Adobe’s Flash to iPhone compiler can adversely affect a platform like the iPhone OS.

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.


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