Daniel Eran Dilger
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Five Tremendous Apple vs. Adobe Flash Myths

Daniel Eran Dilger

Proponents of Adobe Flash insist that Apple’s iPhone 4.0 restrictions amount to “restraint of trade,” that the company’s Flash platform covers the vast majority of computers, that Adobe doesn’t need Apple and could bury it by cutting off its apps for the Mac in retaliation, that Apple really owes Adobe a hand, and that by not offering Flash, Apple is violating a universal doctrine demanding Choice. They’re wrong, here’s why.
Ready for a roller coaster of emotionalist tirades directed at Apple? The Flash Brigade is out in full force, so there’s no asking for clarification or analytical thoughtfulness going on, just a lot of malicious motives being hastily attributed based on a series of conspiracy theory assumptions. Buckle up.

Myth 1: Apple’s great ‘restraint of trade’

The first argument being thrown at Apple is that its new restriction on the source languages that can be used to link to its iPhone SDK APIs is a “restraint of trade,” apparently because Apple has a legal obligation to support third parties who want to apply their tools to build iPhone apps.

Never mind that such accusations have never been thrown about when the subject was developing titles for the Xbox 360, Wii, PlayStation 3, or any other game console. Those developers must not only use the languages and tools the vendor outlines, but typically must also pay thousands of dollars for licensing fees, specialized development hardware, and jump through a variety of other hoops.

The same people who seem so morally outraged about about Apple’s still minority share of the smartphone market (in terms of hardware units sold), seemed completely cool with Microsoft’s reign over the entire PC market, which it micromanaged in meticulous detail, telling PC makers what hardware they could and could not sell, what software they could not bundle, and so on.

If Android had a nickel for every “developer” who threatened out of rage to run to that platform every time Apple enacted a new policy, that hobbyist platform could probably afford to buy itself a real game.

Myth 2: Flash is ubiquitous

Adobe likes to say that 96% of all computers in the US have Flash installed. What it doesn’t say is that more than 60% of all smartphone web traffic, and 96% of all “Mobile Internet Device” (that’s a euphemism for “iPod touch”) traffic doesn’t run Flash at all.

Additionally, it’s not as if Adobe had created a great mobile Flash platform and Apple stomped all over it to be mean. Adobe didn’t have a mobile version of Flash that could even play Flash videos until Flash Lite 3 appeared, well after the release of the iPhone. Even then, that product couldn’t run most of the Flash content created for desktop PCs.

Adobe didn’t pass that hurdle until last summer, when it introduced an early version of Flash Player 10 for Android. But that version still doesn’t play back everything the PC version does. The latest 10.1 version for mobiles is supposed to do better, but it’s still in demo stages and requires a Cortex A8 class processor, meaning it only runs on Android or webOS devices from the last several months.

If Apple supported this, it could only run on the iPhone 3GS. So Adobe’s mobile strategy is actually just now emerging. Apple has been selling the iPhone for three full years now. There was no suitable version of Flash to sell, so Apple made its own plans.

To hear from the tech media people who feed from the Adobe propaganda machine like ducks being force fed for foie gras, you’d think Adobe has had a real mobile strategy all this time and Apple has just been playing the role of a conniving obstructionist.

The truth is that it’s Adobe’s fault there’s no Flash on the majority of mobiles, because the company was completely happy just misleading the world of pundits while talking instead of doing. Well it’s not 2007 anymore, it’s 2010, and that’s three years of work that everyone else has put into HTML5.

Adobe hasn’t done anything to earn the rights to cram the Internet back into the Flash box it likes to sit upon as it collects taxes from those creating content that only plays back via Adobe’s own players. Adobe never been on top of things in the mobile world, and the desktop version is not exactly doing all that much anymore either. As companies shift their resources from everything Flash to HTML5, Adobe’s desktop monopoly over interactive content will rapidly erode. It’s not Apple’s fault that’s happening, it’s Adobe’s.

Why Apple is betting on HTML 5: a web history

Myth 3: Adobe’s gonna get Apple

With Apple making no effort to bail Adobe out from the consequences of its own incompetence, the Flash Brigade is calling for a merciless reaction from Adobe. Perhaps the company will give up a huge chunk of its Creative Suite sales by snubbing Mac users?

That’s what Microsoft did when it realized Apple was now competing against it in productivity apps. Look at how much money Microsoft saved by not developing Mac versions of Office 2008 and 2010. Oh wait, Microsoft did develop generations of Office for Mac even though Apple is now selling iWork. Microsoft made lots of money selling Office for Mac.

And that’s why Adobe will keep selling Creative Suite for Macs. Adobe can make lots of money even while it snubs Mac users, so why would it stop making money to snub Mac users? Adobe is also rolling out new apps for iPad and iPhone. Clearly, the company is around to make money, not to behave like a 15 year old girl dramatizing her contempt for those who have offended her in some fashion. Somebody tell the Internet.

Sorry Flash Brigade, Adobe isn’t about to retaliate against Apple. The reason Adobe is talking is because that’s all it can do at this point after screwing up its mobile strategy and failing to anticipate years ago where computing was headed and what changes it needed to make. It’s not Apple’s job to keep Adobe in business.

Office Wars 3 – How Microsoft Got Its Office Monopoly

Myth 4: Apple owes Adobe a living

The Flash Brigade also likes to tell tales about how Adobe (like Microsoft) lovingly rescued Apple back when the company was having hard times, so Apple should be paying Adobe back by establishing Flash as the proprietary alternative to open web standards.

This is curious (or perhaps hilarious) because Adobe’s support for Apple has long been just as money motivated as Macromedia and Microsoft. Back when Apple wanted its major developers to embrace NeXTSTEP and port their existing code to a modern new API that would solve a lot of the old problems with the Classic Mac OS, it got nothing but blank stares from all threes of those “partners.”

Had they invested in Apple’s plans, we’d have gotten a Mac OS X with the sophistication of the iPhone back in 1998, rather than living through a decade of Apple building Carbon and then weaning its developers off it. Adobe and Macromedia helped delay Apple’s plans for a decade just so they could safely make money selling Mac users less sophisticated software.

When Apple turned itself around, it was no longer in a position to beg for the support of companies like Adobe and Macromedia and Microsoft. It has begun telling developers what to do. It told Adobe that if it wanted to build 64-bit Mac apps, it would need to do it using Cocoa. Adobe balked for a while, pushing off the 64-bit port of Creative Suite for the Mac by a year and a half. This spring, Adobe will finally get portions of Creative Suite apps to Cocoa, just a decade plus a few years after Apple asked the first time.

The only thing Apple owes Adobe is decade of torturous knuckle dragging. Let’s see if Flash is still around in 2020. Maybe Steve Jobs will accommodate Adobe by throwing in a version of Flash with iPhone OS 14 as payback for Adobe sticking it out like a trouper.

Cocoa and the Death of Yellow Box and Rhapsody

Myth 5: Apple should just solve Adobe’s problems by offering Choice

With hearts bleeding more dramatically than even the most tortured religious figures ever imagined under centuries of Christendom, the Flash Brigade next insists that no matter how justified Apple is in restricting its own platform, no matter how incompetent Adobe was in screwing up mobile Flash, without regard for how powerless Adobe is to demand that anything really change, and ignoring how awful Adobe and Macromedia were to Apple in the past, it’s Apple’s duty, no, moral obligation, to support Flash as a Choice.

That’s because a variety of Choices are always preferable to a subset of ideal options. Who needs a web based on open, interoperable standards when you can have the Choice of all dynamic content being locked up in Flash? What a wonderful option.

I know when I plant a garden, I don’t do any weeding first because I want to give all forms of life an equal opportunity to spread and benefit from my efforts and irrigation. If I just planted vegetables and herbs, I’d only have things that were good. Why not also have the weeds that are already here? By not weeding, I get the things I want to grow AND the option of weeds. Who cares if those weeds will choke out any positive development and keep things just the way they were before I did any planting. Choice is always preferable to change, because change is scary!

Well, at least in the minds of companies who advocate Choice when their particular Choice involves monopoly control. Microsoft wanted music player buyers to have a Choice of music stores and a Choice of hardware vendors, but interestingly, not really a Choice in media player operating system vendors.

Similarly, while Adobe wasn’t so keen on offering users a Choice of Cocoa support, or a Choice of both HTML5 and Flash output from its development tools, it is really interested in Apple offering users a choice between the HTML5 open web Apple is cultivating and the Flash weeds it wants to see choke out any potential for change on the web.

The fallacy of Flash: why Adobe’s ideological war with Apple is bankrupt

Nothing left to do but talk

And so, through a mix of incompetence, belligerence and emotionalist hypocrisy, Adobe has been pumping a non-stop stream of propaganda about how critically important Flash is on mobile devices, even though millions of people been using the highest ranked smartphone for three years now without suffering any ill (not even the rest of humanity on lessor smartphones have missed being able to render desktop Flash content, because they haven’t been able to either). There’s a reason for all that talk: Adobe is terrified.

Like Microsoft, Adobe has long been able to sign up every major player in the consumer electronics industry to pay for whatever garbage it has had the shameless balls to crap out. Three generations of Flash Lite, and now a variant of its desktop web plugin that demands the fastest smartphones on the planet just to run it. Once you get used to getting paid to do next to nothing, it’s a brutal shock when somebody stands up and refuses to play along with your ridiculous game.

Apple isn’t just a rebellious outsider. Not in mobiles, where it controls most of the world’s web traffic, and certainly almost all of the traffic of affluent customers. Flash has found its way to the hobbyist Android platform, and has graced the webOS even as it goes through its final death throes. It is promised to arrive for Windows Phone 7, the ace in the hole Microsoft plans to use to take back all the market share it lost to Android. But Flash isn’t ever going to be on the iPhone OS, and that not only makes a big black hole in Adobe’s strategy for maintaining in monopoly control over dynamic content on the web, but also questions why we were ever using this crap in the first place on the desktop.

Once society awakes to see how duped it’s been, the value of Adobe’s $3.1 billion 2005 deal to acquire Macromedia (largely for Flash) might look like less than a brilliant move.

  • stanv

    I’ll agree with you for a moment about those “big five myths”. The fact is Adobe has been public about their intentions of releasing Packager for iPhone for over an year, and Apple has never attempted to communicate with them that they will not like that.

    You may say “they don’t have to do that, they don’t owe them anything”. But mere good manners require that at least someone at Apple sent them an email “Sorry, we won’t let that happen” much earlier than *4 days before release*. Real people, with families to feed, who have worked hard at Adobe for the past over an year will lose their jobs over Apple’s choice of poor communication.

    Would Apple let Adobe know earlier of their intention, the result would be the same for the iPhone and iPad: no Flash packager.

    However, at Adobe, those software development resources could be saved and pointed in a better direction where their efforts wouldn’t go to waste.

    [Oh please, nobody is going to lose their jobs over CS5 features. And Adobe assumed some risk in pursuing a strategy of making Flash-created iPhone apps rather than working on HTML5 tools – Dan]

  • http://scottworldblog.wordpress.com scotty321

    Brilliant as always. Also, I’d like to add 2 things:
    1. Flash technology discriminates against people with disabilities, as explained on this website: http://www.flashsucks.org/
    2. As you mentioned yesterday over at AppleInsider, even if Apple DID want to have Flash on the iPhone for some crazy reason, it technically couldn’t allow it because it wouldn’t work with the new multitasking of iPhone OS 4: http://tinyurl.com/y95ghat

  • stanv

    > Oh please, nobody is going to lose their jobs over CS5 features.

    And you know this for a fact how? Would be willing to guarantee it to me somehow? Or just throwing words around.

    I know for a fact Adobe has postponed a lot from their Flash roadmap to make way for the iPhone packager. Now that this entire effort is useless, people have a significant reason to skip this cycle of updates, which will hurt Adobe and it’ll have to cut even more jobs to keep afloat, starting with the developers who they have no use for anymore.

    > And Adobe assumed some risk in pursuing a strategy of making Flash-created iPhone apps rather than working on HTML5 tools – Dan

    Until 4 days ago the objective risk was non-existent: the Flash packager was consistent with the then published SDK license agreement, and the app store has accepted many projects from other platforms, such as Unity, which has some of the game bestsellers on the App store at this very moment.

    The risk of dealing with Apple is that they’re arrogant and unpredictable. The problem when the CEOs play little games like the one happening between Adobe and Apple, to reiterate again, actual people are hurt, most of whom had absolutely nothing to do with the decisions Adobe made at some point in the 90-s.

  • ShabbaRanks

    @ Scotty321

    Thanks for the flashsucks site. It’s nice to see a website with a genuine point, well made and bugger all else. Updated too.

  • stanv

    @ scotty321

    That multitasking explanation is just a really bad guess. All existing apps, including those from Flash Packager, Unity, Appcelerator and so on, work on iPhone OS4 by being transparently suspended when you switch away. This is also how native apps behave by default on OS4. The only limitation comes from being unable to use the background services, like background audio, which is easily fixed by the 3rd party platforms exposing the API-s to their users.

  • ShabbaRanks

    @ Stanv

    The bottom line is that every company in the world has a responsibilty to it’s own staff to best secure it’s own future. This can be through co-operation and trade with other companies or other means. Apple isn’t responsible for the well being of Adobe and it’s staff. Adobe isn’t responsible for the well being of Apple and it’s staff. It would be lovely if Adobe and Apple got on but at the moment their strategies don’t mix. What’s good for Adobe is bad for Apple and vice versa.

    Don’t go throwing around opinion as fact. If you think staff at Adobe will become redundant directly due to the actions of Apple and it’s someone else’s opinion that won’t happen, the worst reply is that they countered your opinion with theirs.

    It is, however, a fact in a capitalist world that if Adobe has to lay people off it is due to bad decision making at Adobe. You can’t blame Apple for being self serving, just as it’s unfair to blame Adobe and Microsoft for the same. You can only blame a company for this if it’s holding back capitalism itself. Hence competition laws.

  • ulicar

    Oh, no, another by Dan.

    1997 Microsoft invested $150 million andagreed to develop office for mac because of the antitrust lawsuite, possible patent lawsuits and not for money. Apple productivity tools are pure joke. If you are using iWorks, instead of OO.org, or MS Office, there is something wrong with you.

    So, torecap, Apple blackmailed MS to continue development for mac. MS is doing it for the money, but not the money originating in the Mac area.

    See, that was information you should have given to your readers, and not that whitewash.

  • http://berendschotanus.com Berend Schotanus

    There’s a war going on between sysops and sysdevs on one side and users on the other side. A war about power, money and status. But also a war about just earning your own living…

    Sysops and sysdevs do have an interest in keeping technology mystifying and complex without making it too much performant. That’s how they can justify their job to the enduser, earn their respect and get an excuse to ask financial compensation for the work done. And over time, as Dan brilliantly states, they risk getting used to getting paid to do next to nothing.

    Users on the other hand have an interest in break-through innovation that offers more value for less money. But interestingly, after a break-through innovation we tend to see a counter movement where sysops and sysdevs are able to conquer a bit of terrain back.
    The PC was such an innovative break-through, depriving sysops and sysdevs from the status the ancient mainframe computers offered them. The counter move was MS-DOS that gave sysops and sysdevs some of their terrain back and allowed them to build big expensive and complicated business networks.
    Similarly the Internet was an innovative break-through that suddenly allowed ordinary people to benefit from computer networks that were supposed to be only available to rich businesses through expensive sysops and sysdevs.

    Here is my guess: I think Flash was the tool that gave sysops and sysdevs some of their power back that they were deprived of by the internet. Flash is to the Internet what MS-DOS used to be to the PC. Flash gives a sysdev full control over the remote PC, which wasn’t possible with just HTML.

    So obviously the “Flash Brigade” consists of sysops and sysdevs who are understandably angry about loosing their terrain. And that it is not all just malicious conspiracy is made very clear by the remark of stanv above:
    Actual people are hurt (e.g. by loosing their job at Adobe’s) who were not aware or involved in the “little games” that CEO’s are playing.

  • ludachrs

    @ Stanv

    Adobe has had 10 years to release Cocoa versions Creative Suite for the Mac and is just now getting to that with CS5, I work in the graphics industry where a very large majority of all content is worked on the mac. CS4, 64 bit, Cocoa native . . . NO, Photoshop CS4 can only address 3.5 gigs of RAM and has been hamstrung by not being native and 64 bit for years, why didn’t Adobe help Apple out by rewriting millions of lines of code before 2010. Why was the Windows version of photoshop CS4 64 bit? Apple owes Adobe pleeeeaze, CS4 is the slowest, buggiest, worst written versions of Adobe software I have ever used in over 17 years. Adobe is just as arrogant as Apple. Innovate or die! Adobe owns the Mac graphics market but they are every bit as arrogant as Quark was when they did and look what happened to them. Maybe instead of updating the last set of tools content creators were using Adobe should be developing the next set of tools content creators will use.

  • broadbean

    @ulicar $150 million was small change for Microsoft. And exactly what was their return when they sold the stock back, on top of the money made from Office for Mac? They made a tidy sum, and was able to divert some accusations as being a monopoly. Don’t think for a moment there wasn’t a tremendous upside for Microsoft at the time and the small gamble paid off big time.

    @stanv Apple changing tunes on its developers? Where’s the news in that?

    Flash is strong on the desktop, even though it sucks on the Mac. So it is not ubiquitous on the mobile platforms, that’s where their management team needed better decision making. They can cry foul about Apple, but resting on their laurels is certainly biting back their backsides at the moment.

    Anyway, have you seen their senior management team?

    How would you like to be the Adobe CEO with both founders looking over your shoulder everyday as joint Chairmen of the Board?

    And oh, @ulicar, Microsoft Excel is pretty good, could be even better with Office 2010. OO is crap, and Pages and Keynote rock. If you don’t know that, you don’t know Jack.

  • RattyUK

    So Microsoft making something approaching a Billion dollars in the deal is not relevant? When Microsoft unloaded the shares they “purchased” they did damn well on the deal.

    “Apple blackmailed MS to continue development for mac.”
    Give me a break. Yeah, blackmailed to make money.

  • http://blog.techflaws.org Techflaws.org

    The problem when the CEOs play little games like the one happening between Adobe and Apple, to reiterate again, actual people are hurt, most of whom had absolutely nothing to do with the decisions Adobe made at some point in the 90-s.
    Tough luck.

    Oh, no, another by Dan.
    Really? So what else did you expect on his blog?

  • Harrie

    There is another very good reason for not allowing application builders that sit on top of Cocoa. If a system update reveals a bug in an individual Cocoa built program, the developer can repair it immediately. If, however, the bug is in the application builder, a whole bunch of apps will suddenly be incompatible and the individual developers can do nothing about it. They have to wait until it is repaired by the manufacturer of the application builder.

    Adobe has a track record of needing about ten years for such repairs (remember Adobe Type Manager?) It thus falls onto Apple to program around those bugs. I can very well understand that they no longer want to do this.

    The only alternative for Apple is then to repair it themselves.

  • http://ObamaPacman.com ObamaPacman

    @ulicar (aka failblog of words),

    Again, major fail.

    iWorks contain Keynote. Many businesses and CEO use Apple Keynote. For example Nintendo CEO (yes I got photos) uses Apple Keynote on a Mac.

    Steve Jobs also uses Keynote. Let’s see, Apple is a $230 billion dollar company, so by your rational, there is must be something wrong with Steve Jobs and other CEOs.

    Thanks for your always way off opinion. FAIL.

    Back on topic, Adobe works so diligently that the desktop Flash works on windows mobile “open” devices. NOT.

    Fact: Windows Mobile (WiMP) is on the market for almost a decade, and still no desktop-flash for it.

  • Per


    If you actually did read the article before posting a comment, it is just super funny that you posted a “think of the children”-style comment to a blog post about the Flash Brigade’s emotional tirades. This is irony 101. You just help to prove Daniel’s point.

    Let’s not feed the trolls, shall we?

  • Dorotea

    Thanks for the information on mobile flash. I thought it was on all smartphones. I find it funny that Apple has kept a product off of the iPhone that does not exist!!!!!!

    So I’m assuming that RIM doesn’t have flash either.. Correct?

    And the mobile flash that works on Androd/WebOS doesn’t work with most Flash websites? Hilarious!!!!

  • donarb

    Adobe’s whining is really amazing. The ubiquitousness of Flash is like a cancer, they are even now building it into the heart of all their flagship products. Yes, Adobe is adopting the write once, run anywhere philosophy that even Microsoft abandoned years ago.

    Fireworks CS4 has had a known bug where it crashed whenever you quit, Adobe knew about it but said they wouldn’t fix it because it caused no data loss. Only recently did Adobe say they would fix it.

  • John E

    reading many of the Flash Brigades wails, i’d bet that the most self-righteous are web designers who have become practically dependent on Flash and so feel threatened by its decline. as if having to learn HTML5 is going to cost them a lot of money or valuable time. many begin ” i’m a developer …”

    but of course there will be just as much paid work to be done. more actually, with the rapid growth of the mobile web. and a transition period that will give them enough time to learn a new system. what it really amounts to is crybabies wailing “change is so hard!”

  • zdp

    When I decided that I wanted to start making iPhone apps, I looked at many developer tools. I was really interested in appcelerator because it used technology that I already knew.

    In the end though, I bit e bullet and learned objc because I was worried that I would not have all of the tools and options available to me via the third party software. Indeed, if someone wants to start building their iPhone 4 software and they are not using Xcode, they have to wait until their development tools are updated to support it.

    I think that apple does not want to be reliant on another company becoming a roadblock in implementing new features.

  • Random

    While Adobe’s PR is doing it’s job distorting facts to their advantage (or trying to), there’s good chances their engineers are already busy building an HTML 5 development framework for CS6. That should keep those hard working real people’s families fed, and thanks to Apple, too…

    Now if they aren’t, then, well, whatever happens to Adobe and their stock valuation will be well deserved.

  • stanv


    > it is just super funny that you posted a “think of the children”-style comment to a blog post about the Flash Brigade’s emotional tirades

    All I said was Apple could do the right thing for themselves without letting another company work for over an year only to let them know “no deal” 4 days before release. With a simple phone call or an email. This is the same issue as the AppStore approval process but on a bigger scale.

    If you can’t comprehend this, discussing it further is pointless. If you’re willing to put me on either side of the fence, not a good choice, as I never gave opinion of Flash Packager as a product, nor argued whether Apple is wrong to limit access to their platform. It’s not *what* they did, it’s *how* they did it.

  • stanv

    And a last note so I clarify my point of view. If Adobe and other companies with similar tools (Unity, Appcelerator etc.) knew in advance not to invest at all in such platforms, things would be a lot smoother for Apple themselves.

    Letting them know after they’ve made the big investments only means that Adobe will sue, complain at SEC (already filed a complaint yesterday), make workarounds and generally be a much larger problem for Apple than it would be otherwise.

    Apple is making lots of enemies fast, and I’m not sure if they could respond adequately to the combined wrath of Google+Adobe+Microsoft+co in the long term. and I want Apple to be around as their contribution to the industry is tangible and valuable. All they need to do is drop that arrogant attitude and stop sending out mixed and always changing messages to their partners and developers.

  • donarb

    Apple’s release schedule has nothing to do with Adobe. They didn’t put out a new developer agreement just to screw with Adobe’s release of CS5. Apple has been concentrating on releasing the OS for the iPad. Once the iPad shipped (you know, like last week), Apple could drop the beta status for that OS and then concentrate on the next version of the OS, 4.0. As Daniel has said, the new version of the OS most likely dictates a change in the developer agreement in order to provide future stability for the platform.

    The new agreement is actually nothing new. Apple has always stated that interpreted and abstracted code would not be allowed. But then developers kept pushing the line seeing how far they could go. So Apple decided to spell it out for the terminally clueless.

  • JohnWatkins

    @ stanv
    “Real people, with families to feed, who have worked hard at Adobe for the past over an year will lose their jobs over Apple’s choice of poor communication.”
    OMG! Are you for real? This is satire, right?

    “Apple blackmailed MS to continue development for mac. [and other wack stuff]”
    Do you really have no idea what actually happened at that time? I can only assume you are some kind of comedian or performance artist.

  • JohnWatkins

    Great article Dan. Very interesting.
    Some of the readers’ apologist comments are immensely entertaining as well.

  • http://www.cyclelogicpress.com Neil Anderson

    Hey, Adobe, go build your own phone and put Flash on it….

  • Maniac

    Wow. Great article. I’d forgotten how long it took for Adobe to move their bloatware to Objective-C / Cocoa. Just when Apple needed help promoting OS X and transitioning from Motorola to Intel.

    And, of all that Flash content clogging the web, I wonder how much of it is porn. Maybe it’s fitting that Porndroid, er, Android runs Flash.

  • Ric

    Stupid question: If Adobe did a good job with their tool, it should be impossible for Apple to even know that the user is not using Objective C right? I mean, they have to interface with the OS like everyone else and Apple does not have access (right?) to the source-code of the App.
    Apple does not really actively try to hinder those jailbrake devices but neither are they supported. Why? IMHO because Apple wants to provide an ecosystem that “works”. If you want to break out of this ecosystem: OK, but don’t come to us if something goes wrong.
    Now if Adobe’s Interpreter assumes something and that is changed in a future release (like Harry describes) who is responsible?
    if hundreds of developers come crying to Apple, they would have to make the system “backward compatible”, effectively becoming dependent on Adobe.
    So in conclusion: if I use Adobe to create Iphone Apps, that should be no Problem but IF Adobe fu**ed up it is them (and me) who is responsible.

  • stormj


    Excellent post! My only question is why doesn’t Apple have more people out there explaining this? I guess their strategy is to let the flacks for their competitors do all the carping and let their sales and stock price speak for itself, still, I get bored telling all of my friends that they are full of it when they repeat these ideas that, under normal circumstances, they would be embarrassed to repeat because they are so noobish.

    The death shrieks from the Flash Brigade are typical of any other crowd of developers that got locked into a dead technology and now are mad that they wasted their time.

    Welcome to the world of software development. Go buy another Programming for Dummies book and make flashlight app for a different program.

  • Thomas Menguy

    Good one Dan, I generally agree with your points, Adobe suffers more of itself , and not from Apple.

    I like facts and as much as you do, and you first point just made me fall back out of my developer chair : yes you do have choices to dev on Wii, XBox, PS, with some cross platforms stuff, a lot made by the game studio themselves: just to speak right there is no technical issue with using a cross platform well made SDK (if you want to argue, no pb, let’s open the discussion, I’ll be more than happy to elaborate), after all only application quality, the final result, should count, not the technology used to make it no?

    Why not just say that Apple doesn’t want to allow cross platform development of the apps so that they can achieve a developer platform lock-in (all the little indy dev can’t afford a multi platform development without a third party cross platform SDK), and a customer lock-in because we won’t find our beloved apps on android/winmob/webOS/Symbian/BB/etc, sor hard to switch

    After all it’s difficult to blame Apple for that! …

    It’s just that this kind of dictatorial lock-in is not making me, as a dev, confident in putting my business into the Apple hands: imagine if I choose a wonderful third party library for all my apps, and from one day to another, it is now forbidden by Apple? What should I do If I don’t have the resources to do something else? Enforcing its tools, and forcing me to use their own way of coding will simply constraint my creativity and my productivity. Difficult to say that for me, but I begin to wonder what would have been our software world if Apple had won the desktop war : no java, no .NET, no Flex, no Qt, and the list goes on, and yes those technologies have a purpose and some strength the old objectiveC doesn’t have.

    Anyway this new 3.1.1 SDK paragraph (the one proscribing anything else than C/C++/ObjectiveC and web dev for iphone) is a beta one … perhaps it will change by the time OS 4.0 is coming.

  • http://www.lowededwookie.com lowededwookie

    Super sorry StanV but your comment about people losing their jobs over this is nothing to do with Apple.

    1): Adobe based all their developments on existing technology and therefore an existing NDA. What they failed to do is hazard a guess to what Apple has in plan. If they thought about where Apple might head they wouldn’t have rushed out a workaround for a problem of their own making.

    Think about it, Apple is pretty vocal about Flash and while pre-compiling a Flash app to run on the iPhone is a good workaround, Adobe has failed to do so in an Apple way. As Dan correctly pointed out Adobe dragged their heels on getting their apps onto Cocoa despite Apple telling them 10 years ago that’s the way they want everyone to develop. As such Adobe has to rush out an app at the last minute because they didn’t expect Apple to kill Carbon… Only Apple had been telling them for 10 years that was what they were going to do. Who’s at fault? Apple for killing Carbon or Adobe for calling Apple’s bluff and finding out they had all the Aces?

    2): Anyone who says laying off staff is the best way to save money is deluded to the Nth degree. This is the most retarded move ANY company can make. The best way to make money is to spend money to remove the old inefficient ways not by getting rid of the more experienced staff. Want to save money by getting rid of staff? Get rid of the high paid do nothing executives and accountants who are causing the inefficient methods in the first place. Basic engineering 101 unfortunately the world is run by idiots not engineers.

    As for Ulicar’s stupid statement about iWork he’s obviously never used it bar cursory glances. I use it all the time for everything I do. I am more productive and I have all the tools I need – which I admit are not that heavy – and I can do some pretty great things in Numbers and adding iWork.com into the mix makes it even more beneficial to me. In fact I would like to tell you now that for the most part there is NOTHING Office offers me over iWork and iWork is half the price and more Mac-like to use. Excel offers me a ridiculous amount of rows and columns that I don’t need by default which takes up resources doing nothing whereas Numbers takes up only resources I actually use. Hmmm what offers the better deal. Pages allows me to create word processing documents or produce desktop publishing documents whereas Word only offers word processing and to get desktop publishing I would have to use MS Publisher which… oh wait that’s not on the Mac. So essentially I get more with iWork for half the cost. It’s a no brainer really.

  • BigJayhawk

    Granted, FEW of us could even claim to be as business savvy Jobs — BUT — sometimes I wish people posting comments to blogs like this would just THINK FOR A MOMENT before posting.

    Let’s see . . . Apple says to Adobe . . .

    By the way, we have a SUPER-SECRET new iPhone OS coming out. We’re announcing it in April. Until then, NO-ONE will know ANYTHING about it (officially, anyway). However, since you are all nice guys and have families to feed, we will tell you to tell them to stop production OR ALTER production (which Adobe could still do) on a feature that will not work with OUR NEW VERSION of OUR iPhone Operating System?!?

    HELLO — Apple did not SCREW Adobe’s families by telling Adobe their system will not work with iPhone OS 4 just 4 days before CS5 came out. They told them just days after iPhone OS4 (and it’s SECRET multi-tasking features) were announced!

    Just like ANYTHING IN TECH, Adobe will be able to use whatever they want that works with OS3 ONLY UNTIL OS4 is released in the summer and fall just like anyone else. Adobe has several months to alter the system so it compiles to the native C code that it should have been compiling to in the first place. Apple has EVERY RIGHT to be able to test Adobe-made iPhone software for OS4 just like everyone else’s iPhone software for OS4!

    Go Dan – great synopsis. However, it’s not FIVE things. It’s just this ONE. Adobe must be compliant with MY EXCELLENT iPhone / iTouch / iPad experience just like everyone else. Otherwise, we’ll be stuck with iCRAP just like the rest of the “Smart Phone” world is stuck with! (That incidentally has NO GOOD FLASH EXPERIENCE EITHER!)

  • hoth

    “When Apple turned itself around, it was no longer in a position to beg for the support of companies like Adobe and Macromedia and Microsoft. It has begun telling developers what to do. It told Adobe that if it wanted to build 64-bit Mac apps, it would need to do it using Cocoa. Adobe balked for a while, pushing off the 64-bit port of Creative Suite for the Mac by a year and a half. This spring, Adobe will finally get portions of Creative Suite apps to Cocoa, just a decade plus a few years after Apple asked the first time.”

    Such an utter gross distortion of the truth that the Republican Party would be envious. Quick, name a major Apple app originally done in Carbon that was ported to Cocoa prior to the last six months or so. That’s easy, Final Cut Pro, Logic Pro, iTunes….oh wait. That’s right Apple couldn’t even be bothered to port its own apps to Cocoa. FCP and iTunes are still Carbon, so Adobe will actually be ahead of Apple in terms of Cocoa ports of major apps once CS5 is released.

    I’m not an Apple developer, so I can’t say this for certain, but it was my understanding that Cocoa doesn’t actually make much, if any difference from the end user perspective. Plus if Carbon was so awful, why did Apple pledge to release a 64 bit version of it, when by that point they clearly had the leverage to force developers to Cocoa. And why did they wait until the last minute to announce the change of plans? Surely the decision was made at least weeks if not months before WWDC. Adobe didn’t “balk” , they were forced to throw away a year plus of work and start over. That’s why Windows had 64 bit PS first. If Apple had kept its promise of 64 bit Carbon or never promised it in the first place, that wouldn’t have happened.

    Sorry for injecting reality into your blog…

    [So from the perspective of today, yes what you said is correct. But if Apple hadn’t been forced to develop Carbon (a massive undertaking) just to get 3rd parties on board, it would have been able to work on Cocoa/Yellow Box, and therefore wouldn’t have had to port the Finder to Carbon, but rather could have enhanced NeXT’s existing file browser.

    Other Apple efforts would have been started in Cocoa or ported immediately, but the delay of MS/Adobe/Macromedia meant that Cocoa itself was delayed to get Carbon done first, which took a long time to plan and execute, and which fundamentally warped the entire architecture of NeXTSTEP/Mac OS X. – Dan ]

  • PhilipWing

    Curious that choice is good with thousands of Windows applications, many doing the same things as others, but bad when the iTunes App Store has thousands of apps, many doing the same things as others. Analysts want the company with which I work to offer more choice to make more money (sic, suck more money out of consumers for the same or worse). FYI, we went public April 1st… (really, check the papers and the web) :) Oh, and lowedwookie, my wife was and want to be again one of those corporate accountants, although I’m trying to change her mind… :)

  • pa

    “stanv { 04.10.10 at 2:53 am }
    > Oh please, nobody is going to lose their jobs over CS5 features.

    And you know this for a fact how? Would be willing to guarantee it to me somehow? Or just throwing words around.”

    And how you know about job losses at Adobe as a result of all this?

    For your information, I know there were be no families affected because not only Adobe is not firing anyone, they are trying to appeal to Apple engineers’ morals by offering them jobs at Adobe.

    This 4 day before release excuse is nonsense. Adobe has been knowingly doing something that was not sanctioned by Apple in a sense similar to the way Palm tried to get iTunes to sync with Pre. Palm know Apple wouldn’t allow it and yet they didn’t give up.

    There are well over 100,000 iPhone developers. There have been complaints by many regarding the huge number of existing apps and how hard it is to stand out in the crowd. The least Apple can do to appease the best developers is to prevent some from using third part platforms which will end up causing problems down the road anyway for developers as well as for end users.

    Apple does not like to court developers who in order to easily write apps for multiple platforms end up using the lowest common denominator of features and who are not interested in applying themselves to make the best iPhone OS apps – not to mention having to depend on those third parties to catch up with new APIs.

  • FreeRange

    Another great example of how “wonderful” flash is is how millions of people are now using flash blocking plug-ins in their web browsers when they access the internet making the internet much more responsive and efficient, and their lives much more productive.

  • http://www.lowededwookie.com lowededwookie

    PhilipWing, I’m not necessarily against accountants but I am against the idea that accountants should have a say in how best to make money. It seems the only place these people look is at the cost of employees when in actual fact you can reduce costs in other places while still retaining the experienced guys.

    If your wife becomes an accountant please tell her to be smart and look at the big picture not the area that makes no sense in losing. ;-)

  • http://www.jonathancampbell.net nonlinearmind

    Hey Daniel,
    Great article, as usual. I’ve been wondering, since this Apple/Adobe feud has become heated, whether or not you think Adobe could technically create a version of Flash (the CS app) that would allow developers to export out as HTML 5. To me, that would be the wisest choice, because they’d still be selling a Flash (and HTML5) development app. The Flash platform may dwindle, but they’d still have a loyal user base using a “Flash” app for churning out HTML5 content rather than Flash content.

    Also, I’ve always wondered how Adobe collects fees from content creators. Could you explain, briefly?

    Keep up the good work… and hope you’re staying off the bike!

  • BassPilot

    Well said, Dan. I am not a developer. Nor am I an expert in web standards. But I *do* know what works well on my computers and in my browsers. I have noticed that most of the time I suffer a browser crash on either my aging Windows XP PC or my MacBook, it is the result of a flash app. I am therefore happy that Apple has made the decision to exclude flash from iPhone OS4. I am not interested in the ease with which developers can compile a monkey-bashing ad for a web page that I might view on my iPhone. Rather, I am interested in my iPhone continuing to work well with practically no need to restart it due to a locked-up app.

    I am not an Apple fanboy. I purchased my iPhone 3GS only after being reluctantly convinced that it would benefit me in my daily business routine. I became a fan of the product based upon what it does for me on a daily basis and the utility that I discovered in the product over time. Since my iPhone does all I ask of it every day and does it well, I am loathe to contemplate any change in Apple’s developer standards that would alter its usefulness or functionality.

  • http://macsmarticles.blogspot.com Derek Currie

    Some personal POV notes:

    1) Losing Jobs At Adobe: It may in fact be important for certain people to lose their jobs at Adobe. Their work culture and their attitude toward their customers have been self-destructive for well over a decade. Every company needs to ‘breathe’ as I call it. Out with the bad employees, in with the good employees. In particular, Adobe needs to boot out all the marketing morons who work in management. They never belonged there in the first place. (Definition of ‘marketing moron’: Marketing staff and executives who despise customers except for their ability to hand over cash).

    2) Who is /really/ ‘arrogant and unpredictable’? Back in 1999 Apple made it clear that ‘The Future Is Cocoa’. The statement could not be clearer. Who could have predicted that it would take Adobe 11 years to catch up? Why was Adobe so Tardy? Arrogance. They weren’t even paying attention to their own welfare. Delaying the Cocoa re-write of all their Mac apps has been greatly to their detriment. What consumer computer platform went 100% 64-bit in 2006? Macintosh. NOT Windows PCs. Windows PCs may not be 100% 64-bit for YEARS! So Adobe releases 64-bit CS4 for Windows and NOT Mac. That’s self-destructive. It is not Apple’s business to worry about Adobe’s arrogance and unpredictablity as well as their total disregard for Apple’s development roadmap.

    3) Flash has sucked for Mac OS X for many years. There is nothing revelational about Apple not supporting Flash on iPods, iPhones and the iPad. Adobe have known full well all these years, despite outrageous lies to the contrary, that Flash is a CPU devouring monster. Only a brain dead OSX mobile device maker would allow such a piece of battery killing crapware on their machine. Gigantic DUH factor here folks! Seeing as Adobe has done NOTHING (again despite their outrageous lies to the contrary) to solve their crap code problem, they get what they deserve.

    Cry not for Adobe.

  • motor

    Adobe killed Freehand and incorporated NONE of its features into Illustrator. When I read the migration guide, the main theme was “you’re S.O.L.” for all of Freehand’s superior features.

    F’ Adobe. Freehand, unsupported for seven years now, still runs great on my newest PowerMac. May it outlive Adobe.

  • gus2000

    “… behave like a 15 year old girl dramatizing her contempt for those who have offended her in some fashion. Somebody tell the Internet.”

    OK, I LOLed.

  • http://www.sistudio.net studiodave

    I laugh at all those of you that think Apple owes Adobe anything other than a swift kick in the pants. Adobe has already dropped support of Apple at least once or do you have a copy of Photoshop Elements 5 for the Mac. No you don’t because Adobe did not release one, they skipped 5 and only after Apple started to regain market share did the decide to make version 6 with it’s missing features as compared to the Windows version of 6. Flash is not allowed here on my computers and I’m glad it’s not on my iPhone and will not be on my iPad.

  • http://matthewfabb.com/ Matthew Fabb

    “Never mind that such accusations have never been thrown about when the subject was developing titles for the Xbox 360, Wii, PlayStation 3, or any other game console.”
    Funny you mention this because you can use Flash to create WiiWare games (I imagine technically you could create a full Wii game with Flash, but I’m not sure anyone would want to). Also Flash is known to be used to create the UI screens in certain games on the XBox and PlayStation. While all 3 companies make you jump through hoops to get games approved and have their own custom SDKs, they don’t have limits on what 3rd party tools.

    If the end results are the same and native iPhone apps need to be inspected at the byte code level to tell them apart, then Apple could be in legal trouble over ‘restraint of trade’.
    “Similarly, while Adobe wasn’t so keen on offering users a Choice of Cocoa support, or a Choice of both HTML5 and Flash output from its development tools”

    Adobe has been demoing Dreamweaver CS5 will plenty of HTML5 support since their big Adobe conference MAX last fall. You can even copy and paste Flash animations from Flash CS5 into Dreamweaver CS5 and it’s then outputted via the canvas tag.

    Also note that Adobe doesn’t try to stop 3rd party tools from creating Flash content. You can use open source or even commercial tools from outside of Adobe to create Flash content, most using the free Flex open source compiler.

  • cypherpunks

    To retaliate, Adobe doesn’t need to discontinue supporting the Mac. They can do the exact same thing Microsoft did. They can support the Mac, but poorly. Adobe products can hit the Mac market 6 months to a year after Windows. They can run slower, have Windows-style UIs, and possibly have fewer features. They could spend a little less on testing, so it’d be a little less stable too. They’d still be the best-in-class software for the Mac, so Mac users would still buy them (just like they do Office). On the other hand, graphic designers would begin to flock to Windows where the software worked better.

    The same goes for Flash. It’s a little slower on the Mac, but if it becomes much slower and much less stable than the Windows version, the Mac browsing experience will suffer, and Apple will hurt.

    Adobe, on the other hand, will barely notice.

  • addicted44

    I think the biggest problem with Adobe currently is that with the Macromedia acquisition they seem to have forgotten that they are a design tools company, and not a format company.

    Instead of wasting time creating a Flash -> iPhone utility, they should have been creating a Flash -> HTML5 one, or better yet, just a basic design software outputting in HTML5 (I am not denying HTML5 is not as robust as Flash, but with the Canvas element a lot can still be done with it. The problem is the lack of tools, which is where Adobe needs to step in).

  • berult

    The Art of Creation expresses itself in Ideas and Languages, Substance and Form, Harmony and Opposition, in a compulsive drive toward Freedom; Freedom from a perceived alien, suffocating Truth. Literary genres, Music, Visual Arts beg to canvass Fundamental Differences. So does a Computing Language.

    Mozart composed his Requiem in the dawning days of his Life. A Masterpiece of Western Civilization. A Pupil of His had the daunting task to compose the unfinished Part after his passing. Seamless rendering, wouldn’t we all agree, of the Continuum of Mozart’s take on Death. It takes a spiritual kin to convey one’s real apprehension over Death. And over Life.

    Job’s expressive language is His alone, no additional layer needs be juxtaposed upon it. I, as a Programmer of sort, can build and extend my reach within the genial constraints of an Original and Proven Perspective on Life in the 21st Century. It’s my call.

  • addicted44

    At the same time, I don’t see how Apple can enforce this restriction without running afoul of some anti-competitive regulation.

    Honestly, Apple needs to just start allowing 3rd party app stores (with the condition that devs cant sell their apps cheaper there), and then they can impose whatever rules they want in their own app Store without hearing any complaints.

    The fact that it comes preinstalled with every iPhone and has the restrictions Apple imposes will ensure that the Apple App Store will still be very popular, and most devs will still continue conforming to its rules (since they want to sell on it). At the same time, the other App Store provide a sort of safety valve, in case the App doesnt get approved for the App Store for whatever may be the arbitrary reason of the day.

  • John E

    gee, i wish folks that throw “restraint of trade” around here and elsewhere would take the time to learn what it really refers to. it is about access to markets, not to individual products.

    Apple/iPhone in no way dominate the smartphone market. just the opposite, that market has multiple competing OS’s, hardware, and telcos, and Apple holds just one piece of that huge pie. there is no way at all Apple is “restraining trade” in this market. there is no right for anyone to demand access to any one company’s product/services – in this case, the iPhone OS – except if and when it does dominate or control that total market via a “monopoly” or some other kind of control of the total sales. so if Apple wants to build a proprietary OS with tight limits on how to design apps for it, they certainly can. if that leaves out some other companies or developers, too bad. “it’s just business.”

    even Apple’s 70% control of the iPod-type PMP market is not enough to trigger this issue. plenty of competition in products from many companies still remains. it is only when a company controls 90+% of a market, like MS/Windows, and there are few if any viable competitors that “restraint of trade” in such matters becomes relevant. (or if two or more companies collude to accomplish the same effect.)

  • lemecdutex

    You know, until Adobe makes FrameMaker and other apps for the Mac, then I think Apple is smart not to have any reliance on Adobe technology. Adobe has even very offensively recommended Windows PCS as being “best” for their apps, which is disingenuous, because Adobe is the one who made the apps so inefficient on the Mac to begin with.