Flash and Apple – It’s Getting Ugly

I once went out with this girl for a really long time. It was love, all that sentimental stuff, but it just didn’t work out. I think it was the part where she was banging the guy down the hall or something. Anyways, a year or so later, I’m walking through the mall with my new girlfriend, when I bump into her and the guy down the hall. It was an awkward moment for sure. I never wanted to be somewhere else so badly.

Well this is the relationship with Adobe and Apple. In case you haven’t heard, they’re no longer besties, and now has essentially decided to take their ball and go home. The drama started with the ever-vigilant John Gruber of Daring Fireball fame, who discovered that Apple changed section 3.3.1 in the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement. John says:

In the new version of the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement released by Apple today (and which developers must agree to before downloading the 4.0 SDK beta), section 3.3.1 now reads:

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).

My reading of this new language is that cross-compilers, such as the Flash-to-iPhone compiler in Adobe’s upcoming Flash Professional CS5 release, are prohibited.

Which, as it turns out, is correct. In fact, it was confirmed by Steve Jobs himself via e-mail, in an exchange with Greg Slepak of Tao Effect:

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.

This is kind of a big deal to Adobe. After all, they’ve been working on making programs work on the iPhone through a bypass system they’re working on for CS5. Wired is using them for their iPad app, and other people were looking at it as well. It means that Apple wants their sandbox for themselves, and if Adobe wants to sneak by in the middle of the night and knock over a few sand castles, then Apple is going to kick them in the taint and lock them out forever.

I guess doing an end-run around not using Flash on the iPhone wasn’t the best idea, huh?

Adobe is understandably upset, and that was alluded to in their most recent post on their company blog. I could pull out some of the decent sections for you, but I think there’s just a few sentences that truly sum it all up.

Now let me put aside my role as an official representative of Adobe for a moment as Speaking purely for myself, I would look to make it clear what is going through my mind at the moment. Go screw yourself Apple.

Comments disabled as I’m not interested in hearing from the Cupertino Comment SPAM bots.

Ah. The mature response is always the most productive.

So what does this mean for all parties involved? Well, Apple may be facing a backlash from developers because of their hard stance on Flash on the iPhone. But at this point, so many people want to develop for the iPhone, that unless there’s a huge backlash, Apple will still be just fine. Adobe is really screwed, and now they have to figure out another way to get their products on the iPhone – like the legit way.

As for me, I’m just going to sit back and watch this thing play out.

Comments

  1. Hi, Adobe actually has many employees blogging… the term “corporate blogging” itself was coined by Farhad Manjoo to describe Macromedia’s early adoption of the medium.

    Some lines in Lee’s post were taken out-of-context for a dramatic story, similar to how popular attention was focused on a single site he cited as an example in a previous post. Better to read the whole thing than just selected reframings.

    Adobe customers want to deliver to varied devices, including Apple-branded ones. We try to make it easier for them to do so. But if it’s blocked, it’s blocked. At least it’s on the record now.

    Understood about the “high maintainence drama” in some relationships, though…. ;-)

    jd/adobe

    • Kevin Whipps says:

      JD-

      I agree, it does seem more dramatic to point out the dramatic parts of the story. But I read it top to bottom and when I read “Go screw yourself,” the first thought I had was, “Well that’s childish.” Second thought I had was, “Was this the same person who wrote the post with porn in it?” And the third thought was, “Why doesn’t Adobe get a handle on their employees?” Fact is, if I wrote something similar about one of my company’s main clients, I’d be fired. Think before you speak and all that.

  2. Flash must die!

  3. Apples animosity toward Adobe goes way back; ever since Apple came out with the Cocoa development environment for OS X and Adobe has basically refused to use it, resulting in an interface for Mac versions of Adobe products that are slower than their Windows counterparts and lack the nicest aspects of the Mac user interface.

  4. Constable Odo says:

    Adobe shouldn’t stew over what Apple is doing. Adobe should just keep its own house in order. Adobe has no control over Apple’s choices. Apple is one company, although a very influential one. Apple has made up its mind not to support Flash and that’s the end of it. This shouldn’t be the end for Adobe since Flash is still being used for 98% of the internet. Adobe will just have to work harder to make money, that’s all. If Adobe continues to improve Flash Light, maybe they’ll make money from the growing Android market. I just don’t understand Adobe’s animosity for Apple. Apple is taking somewhat of a risk not supporting Flash and pushing for HTML5. There’s nothing evil about having an alternative to Flash for the rest of the mobile industry. Adobe shouldn’t need to have 100% market share of the internet using Flash. That’s just being greedy.

  5. Duh, OF COURSE those are corporate blogs. Else why would Adobe Legal ‘ask for redactions’ on a personal blog? And how much context do you need for what amounts to a temper tantrum from Brim-low?

    Face it. Adobe barely has control over the children who run the company. Why would Apple take such children seriously? When they tried something cute with that Flash Cross Compiler and Apple said ‘nuh-uh, not in my house, when you can’t even get Flash on the Mac right.’ And now they throw tantrums in public.

    It’s time for Adobe to reign in the ‘kids’ like Dowdell etal who probably tried this bum rush of the iPhone OS and FAILED, and let the grownups deal with Apple. When did Adobe take on so many whingers?

  6. James Katt says:

    From John Gruber’s DaringFireball.com:

    Jean-Louis Gassée Gets It ★
    Jean-Louise Gassée:

    Who, in his right mind, expects Steve Jobs to let Adobe (and other) cross-platform application development tools control his (I mean the iPhone OS) future? Cross-platform tools dangle the old “write once, run everywhere” promise. But, by being cross-platform, they don’t use, they erase “uncommon” features. To Apple, this is anathema as it wants apps developers to use, to promote its differentiation. It’s that simple. Losing differentiation is death by low margins. It’s that simple. It’s business. Apple is right to keep control of its platform’s future.

    It really is that simple. That’s a perfect one-paragraph summary of the situation. His detailed analysis (and historical perspective — much of it first-person) is spot-on.

  7. …and actually, yes, if you’re talking about this post:

    http://theflashblog.com/?p=1703

    Then yes, Lee Brimlow was the loose cannon who put porn on a corporate blog. Which proves my point all the more that Adobe needs to rein in their children. Or hire more adults to babysit.

  8. I would like to continue to deploy Flash based content. However, I perfectly understand why Apple doesn’t want too use Flash and any developer should be aware of this and not solely rely on Flash. Let’s not be a one trick pony here.

    As far as Adobe goes, why don’t you guys just add application support for HTML5 and stop bickering?

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