Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Adobe-Apple Flame War...

Who says that computer programming is boring?

An epic fight is occurring right now between two corporate giants of the IT world - Adobe and Apple. It started last week when Apple decided that only apps written in the native programming languages of C, Objective-C, or C++ could be run on the iPhone OS. This meant that Adobe programs that use Flash were effectively banned on iPhones, iPod Touches, and iPads.

Adobe responded first by created a clever workaround - a Flash-to-iPhone compiler, which for you non-programmers is a simple tool that sucks in Flash code and spits out iPhone OS code. However, Apple immediately changed its license agreement to prohibit such cross-compilers as well.

Now for the juicy part. Lee Brimelow, the platform evangelist for Adobe, blogged a scathing criticism of Apple that has since caught fire in cyberspace...

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's post concludes with the not-too-subtle statement, "Go screw yourself Apple".

Other big names have since weighed in as well. The Tao Effect's Greg Slepak replied to a missive by non-other than Steve Jobs himself by saying...

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.... From a developer's point of view, you're limiting creativity itself... 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.

Now, of course, a Facebook group has emerged named, "I'm for Adobe". In its manifesto, it states, "There is no longer any debate as to who the “bad guy” is in this story — Apple has proven themselves to be anti-competition, anti-developer, and anti-consumer. I stand with Adobe."

Adobe's John Dowdell has even tweeted that Apple's policies are analogous to China's intolerance of religion, and even compared them to the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld.

All this stink over which computer programming language to use.

My readers can guess where I stand on this issue. I've been arguing for years already that Apple's policies are anti-developer and a killer of innovation. Their decision to prohibit Flash and all languages other than those of the C-family isn't surprising. It's just the next step in the slippery slope they've been pursuing for quite some time now. When will anyone listen?

In the meantime, Megan Lavey is right when she says that most of the 85 million iPhone OS users "don't care how those apps are created as long as the app experience is compelling -- they wouldn't know an IDE from an SDK, or be able to tell Xcode from Flash on a bet".

For a topic filled with such geek-speak, this flame war has passions running mighty high. And it's only the beginning...


At 9:14 AM, Blogger Robert J. Domanski said...

Quick update... the New York Times has a write-up this morning on the subject as well...


At 12:36 PM, Blogger Fitz said...

Great work as always Rob. I agree and can't comprened why Apple's "policies are anti-developer and a killer of innovation". Only reason is the prevelant Apple snobbishness about itself. Not allowing Flash to play directly on Apple OS is just dumb.

At 12:45 PM, Blogger Robert J. Domanski said...

Thanks, as always, Fitz. My personal amateur psychological take on Apple's motives is that Steve Jobs is still traumatized by what happened in the 1980s with Microsoft having such success at the Mac OS's expense. Unfortunately, these heavy-handed and overly protective policies may ironically lead Apple down the same road again, once ticked-off developers feel that another platform is viable. I know that how I'm feeling.

Didn't want to go off on a tangent in the post itself, but there's a great book related to this subject of "generativity" and "tethered appliances"... The Future of the Internet and How To Stop It by Jonathan Zittrain. Check it out.

At 6:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love this one! Adobe has the brains to write a cross-compiler, and then with a swift stroke of the pen (or keyboard) by an attorney, we’re back in the age of despotism!



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