Apple Bans Adobe Flash Compiler for iPhone--Does Limiting the Development Platform Stifle Innovation??
My "Patty's Pioneers" group has been actively (and privately) debating the reasons behind, and the ramifications of Apple's recent changes to the Terms Of Service (clause 3.3.1) in the iPhone software development agreement described in this post by John Gruber: New iPhone Developer Agreement Bans the Use of Adobe’s Flash-to-iPhone Compiler.
We've had interesting technical debates about whether there are good technical reasons why Apple should not support Adobe's development tools and compilers--too slow, too buggy, too insecure? Make it easier to migrate to a next generation chip?
We've also debated the pros and cons of using cross-platform development tools for mobile applications--write once, run anywhere--or writing platform-specific applications using platform-specific tools.
We've debated whether Apple is looking out for the customer to avoid a lousy customer experience, or looking out for Apple--to ensure a more profitable revenue stream by controlling the flow of money thru iTunes.
We've bemoaned the investment that companies with sophisticated Flash applications will have to make in order to re-develop them for the iPhone, if this war continues.
But what I think has captured all of our imaginations the most is the quite public feud going on between Apple and Adobe.
Greg pushes back in another email to Steve Jobs:
"I still think it undermines Apple. You didn’t need this clause to get to where you are now with the iPhone’s market share, adding it just makes people lose respect for you and run for the hills, as a commenter to that article stated:
"From a developer’s point of view, you’re limiting creativity itself. Gruber is wrong, there are plenty of [applications] written using cross-platform frameworks that are amazing, that he himself has praised. Mozilla’s Firefox just being one of them."
"I don’t think Apple has much to gain with 3.3.1, quite the opposite actually.
"Within about 3 minutes a second reply graced my inbox:
We’ve been there before, and intermediate layers between the platform and the developer ultimately produces sub-standard apps and hinders the progress of the platform. Steve Jobs"
When Steve Jobs says, "We've Been There Before??" What is he referring to? Adobe Postscript? Adobe fonts? Other cross-platform development environments?
John Abell from Wired offers his own explanation about the source of the rift between Apple and Adobe, and quoted Steve Jobs as saying: "About Adobe: They are lazy, Jobs says. They have all this potential to do interesting things but they just refuse to do it. They don’t do anything with the approaches that Apple is taking, like Carbon. Apple does not support Flash because it is so buggy, he says. Whenever a Mac crashes more often than not it’s because of Flash. No one will be using Flash, he says. The world is moving to HTML5."
I know someone else who has great insights into the relationship between Apple and Adobe--My brother Jonathan Seybold who brokered the relationship between Steve Jobs, John Warnock and Paul Brainerd and created deskop publishing. So I asked him to offer a perspective...Here was my query to my brother:
When Steve Jobs tells developers only to write apps for the iPad using Apple's approved tools, is he being "closed" or is he being customer-experience centric or is he being greedy..?? When he bans Flash apps from his platforms, is he just pissed at Adobe ? I also asked Jonathan whether Jean Louis Gassee's description of the history was correct. He replied by offering to provide his own summary of the early history of the Apple/Adobe relationship as well as his own take.