Sunday, April 11, 2010

Does Apple hate Adobe or Developers?

I was thinking that perhaps I should wait until tomorrow to make a post. April 12th is when Adobe is going to officially announce the Creative Suite 5 lineup. I am hoping that something big is going to be announced tomorrow but think that perhaps the iPhone OS 4 rumors may have dampened Adobe's plans. One feature that they were planning on having for Flash CS5 is an iPhone exporter that would convert Flash apps into iPhone apps. Sadly, the iPhone SDK license agreement (required to use the iTunes store) may be specifying that apps must be written in Objective C or C++ and that API features must not be accessed through third party libraries. This effectively rules out using Flash to develop iPhone apps. It also rules out other tools like Unity.

I think the real reason for doing this is to force developers to develop specifically for the iPhone/iPad. Flash being able to export to iPhone would circumvent this requirement making it easy to develop cross-platform applications. While Unity also allows this, it has a much smaller developer base as compared to Flash so Apple probably didn't even notice it yet. In other words, this attack against Flash isn't actually aimed at Adobe, but it is instead an attempt to make it much more work for developers to create cross-platform versions of their apps. Right now, the iPhone is in a dominant position, so developers pretty much have to support it. This is just like Windows is the dominant platform for PCs which is why there is so much Windows software.

With Android continuing to gain market share, one has to wonder if this is a good long-term strategy for Apple. Right now, the major player is the iPhone, but with all the hassle and inconsistencies with the approval process, how much market share will Android have to gain before it becomes the better choice for initial development? In the computer industry, Apple was the dominant player with the Apple II, but that quickly changed when IBM created an easy to clone PC that numerous companies copied (today's PC) resulting in Apple slowly becoming a niche player. When companies start developing for the Android and then deciding if they should bother porting their app to the iPhone,  we may again see Apple become the niche player but this time in the mobile market.

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