Adobe Halts iPhone Flash Development


Adobe has responded to Apple’s continued hostile attitude towards Flash and announced that it was halting developing of it for the iPhone

It is official. Adobe will not be developing any more versions of its packager, that allows Flash applications to be recompiled for the iPhone, and will instead focus Flash at competing smartphone platforms such as Android.

Go Screw Yourself Apple

The move comes after little more than a week after an Adobe employee told Apple to go screw itself over its new restrictive developer policies for the iPhone 4.0.

In an 9 April blog post, Lee Brimelow, a platform evangelist at Adobe focusing on the Flash, Flex and AIR development communities, in response to the now infamous clause in the Apple iPhone developer program licence known as Clause 3.3.1, Brimelow said:

“Speaking purely for myself, I would look to make it clear what is going through my mind at the moment. Go screw yourself Apple.”

But Now It Is Official

Now, in an 20 April post, Adobe product manager Mike Chambers made it official. Said Chambers:

“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.”

Apple’s Clause 3.3.1 reads:

“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 (eg, Applications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool are prohibited).”

According to Chambers, Apple’s goal here is clear:

“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.”

Spitting In Your Face

Brimelow was a bit more direct, saying:

“This has nothing to do whatsoever with bringing the Flash player to Apple’s devices. That is a separate discussion entirely. What they are saying is that they won’t allow applications onto their marketplace solely because of what language was originally used to create them. This is a frightening move that has no rational defense other than wanting tyrannical control over developers and more importantly, wanting to use developers as pawns in their crusade against Adobe.”

Brimelow went on to compare Apple’s actions to a bad shopping experience. “But this is equivalent to me walking into Macy’s to buy a new wallet and the salesperson spits in my face. Chances are I won’t be buying my wallets at Macy’s anymore, no matter how much I like them.”

Apple Complaints

Gripes over Apple’s restrictive policies vis-a-vis developers are nothing new. Yet, this has taken on a different tone. Al Hilwa, an analyst and program director for applications development software at market research firm IDC, said:

“From a developer perspective the new legal language is bad news. The application development field is very diverse and many platforms are inherently layered with API’s often stacked on top of one another as application platforms evolve. Apple’s legal language to preclude even Apple evolving its own platform down the road when new languages or interfaces become more popular as computer science evolves. What is puzzling and bothersome about this legal language is that it seems arbitrarily aimed at cutting a whole swath of existing languages and cutting off the developers skilled in them.”

“Aside from the difficulty of actually implementing it, it seems somewhat arbitrarily discriminatory, analogous to scrutinising the genetic code of person and saying you can’t get into this club. While this restriction can be seen in the prism of the Apple and Adobe relationship around Flash, this is not just about Adobe, but potentially a problem for every developer runtime or language that wants to hold on to developers and maintain its longevity. It is about programmers maintaining their livelihood. Probably even more importantly, it is about the flexibility to evolve computer science and software development.”

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