Adobe Abandoning iPhone Flash App Plans

The white flag is being raised by Adobe in its latest battle with Apple, which could spell the end of the companies attempts to bring Flash to the iPhone overall. The company said that it will no longer persue the ability to allow developers to create Flash apps intended for the iPhone/iPad, pointing to Apple’s chokehold over development for the platform.

“As developers for the iPhone have learned, if you want to develop for the iPhone you have to be prepared for Apple to reject or restrict your development at anytime, and for seemingly any reason,” Flash product manager Mike Chambers wrote on his blog Tuesday.

Chambers continued by all but saying Adobe’s efforts had caught Apple in a lie, proving that Flash could work on the iPhone. He also said the company would now focus its efforts on competing operating systems like Android.

Working with Google could also get Apple’s goat considering the two companies’ relationship has soured considerably over the past year. Android is an open platform, and Google has not done much (if anything) to exert control over who is developing for it.

“We are at the beginning of a significant change in the industry, and I believe that ultimately open platforms will win out over the type of closed, locked down platform that Apple is trying to create,” he wrote.

I’d now venture to guess that we’ve come to the end of the line when it comes to Flash on the iPhone period. It may not matter much now however, considering the dramatic uptick in use of HTML 5. That said, many major websites still do not support HTML 5 fully, so iPhone and iPad users will contine to have a broken experience when it comes to the Web.

Who does that benefit — Apple’s own interests, or the interests of its growing customer base? Neither, I’d say.


12 comments

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  1. sfmitch April 21, 2010 at 8:00 am #

    “That said, many major websites still do not support HTML 5 fully, so iPhone and iPad users will contine to have a broken experience when it comes to the Web.”

    Wow – easy on the drama!!

    Ed – please name what phone or tablet (in the same price range as the iPad) has a full flash experience.

    I think the answer is none.

    So, let’s not make it seem like Apple users are left out in the cold while all the RIM, Android, Symbiam, WinMo, Palm users are currently Flashing it up.

    Personally, I think Flash stinks and I haven’t missed it at all (coming up to 3 years with iPhone and a few weeks with the iPad) and I use click-to-flash on desktop and laptop. I hope Flash gets relegated to use with games only (best thing about flash) and really, really hope I never see another restaurant or any business with a Flash based website.

  2. Josh April 21, 2010 at 8:37 am #

    “We are at the beginning of a significant change in the industry, and I believe that ultimately open platforms will win out over the type of closed, locked down platform that Apple is trying to create.”

    Doesn’t he mean the platform that Apple HAS created? Last time I checked, about 97% of paid mobile apps are purchased from the app store. I like an open platform as much as anyone but it’s just difficult to get excited about Android when it is so fragmented with such a weak market. Android is like the desktop Linux of mobile OSes: incredibly promising but crippled by its idealism and its lack of market momentum.

    But I hate Adobe and I hate Flash. No single product has done more to destroy my web browsing experience than Flash. I disable Flash anyway and it won’t be missed. I have wanted to punch Adobe in the face for years and now I’m glad to see Apple doing it.

  3. David April 21, 2010 at 10:28 am #

    In addition, the only developers complaining are Flash developers. Adobe is just as proprietary as Apple. The only diff is that Apple owns the platform. Adobe could create a tool that could emit Xcode or HTML5/Ajax but it is not in their interests to do so.

    I’m a primary java developer and I agree with Apple’s stance on this. Java on the server is excellent. Bar none. On the client, it has always been a pretty poor experience. 20 years ago, 10 years ago, 5 years ago, today and most likely tomorrow, native will *still* provide the best client experience.

    Users won’t suffer. Adobe will.

  4. David April 21, 2010 at 10:31 am #

    And for the record, how is being trapped in Adobe any better than being “trapped” at Apple. I can escape Apple if I don’t like Apple stuff. If Adobe is everyone relegating all platforms to the same mediocre look and feel,that is much harder to escape.

  5. Hamranhansenhansen April 21, 2010 at 3:01 pm #

    > “As developers for the iPhone have learned, if you want
    > to develop for the iPhone you have to be prepared for
    > Apple to reject or restrict your development at anytime,

    That is fundamentally untrue. There are 2 application platforms on iPhone OS. One of them — App Store — is native and proprietary to Apple (although it uses cross-platform C which means many apps from other platforms are easily ported), but the other is totally open HTML5. That’s the whole idea: developers and users can choose App Store or open, whichever is best for them.

    The thing you have to remember with Apple is they are not closed like Windows or open like Linux. Apple offers both closed and open at the same time, and they let users and developers choose. They get your hardware money either way. OS X is a full Unix. Mac OS runs Mac apps and it runs BSD, X-Windows, Java, Perl, Python, and PHP apps. iPhone runs App Store apps and it runs HTML5 Web apps. You get to choose. Apple’s Web browser is not only HTML5 standards-compliant, they even open sourced it, and it is used by Google Chrome, KDE Linux, Android, Palm, and other phone vendors. Apple’s browser is even used in Adobe AIR.

    Flash makes *Web apps* and HTML5 is an open *Web app* specification. It used to be called “Web apps 1.0”. Flash should be generating open HTML5 *Web apps*, not generating native iPhone OS v3 apps after Apple has already shipped their v4 tools.

    There is a bizarro nature to this debate because Adobe keeps comparing their proprietary Web app platform with Apple’s proprietary native app platform and saying that Adobe is more open. No. The right comparison is between Adobe’s proprietary Web app platform and Apple’s open Web app platform. We’re talking about *Web apps*: video players, games, forms, and other widgets that run directly in a Web page. Native iPhone apps have nothing to do with Flash, same as native and proprietary Android, Windows, or Mac apps have nothing to do with Flash. Flash is a Web app tool.

    Flash is closed, proprietary Web app development. HTML5 is open, vendor-neutral, standardized Web app development. There is absolutely no way Flash wins this fight. The Web has to be open, that is fundamental to the Web. If HTML5 did not already exist, we would have to invent it. That’s why W3C, Apple, Google, Mozilla, and Opera spent the last 5 years inventing it. And Microsoft and Adobe were also there but pouted the whole way through it and did not contribute. But it’s done. There’s no going back to HTML4+Flash.

    > I’d now venture to guess that we’ve come to the end of
    > the line when it comes to Flash on the iPhone period

    There is nothing stopping Adobe from creating an HTML5 export target from the Flash development tool.

    There is even a 3rd party FlashPlayer built in HTML5 that runs Flash presentations on the iPhone for a while now, by converting the Flash binary into HTML5 in real time. This conversion should happen once on the developer’s machine and the HTML5 version should live on the server and be decoded directly by all Web browsers, including mobiles.

    So, in short, Adobe can run on the iPhone any time they like. The ball has always been in their court. From day 1, iPhone has supported open Web apps. Adobe’s Web app tool was never, ever blocked from creating Web apps for iPhone.

    > Who does [not running Flash] benefit — Apple’s own interests, or the
    > interests of its growing customer base? Neither, I’d say.

    *Everyone* benefits from open Web development. Even Adobe will benefit in the long term.

    Today I installed a Tetris game on my iPhone, directly from the developer’s server with no involvement from Apple. The developer wrote the app on Linux (which has no Flash development tool) and the game ran great on my iPhone, without abusing the battery. It lives on my home screen and runs off my local storage, whether I’m connected to the Internet or not. The reason this was possible is because Apple built an open, standardized HTML5 Web app platform into iPhone (and all of their other products as well). I can also run the app on my iPad, and on my Mac or a PC or an Android phone, or Nokia, and soon, a Blackberry. By Adobe’s way of thinking, that developer should install Windows ($399) and Flash ($599) and learn proprietary Adobe API’s instead of the open specification, and deploy that game as a Flash binary that can only be run in proprietary Adobe FlashPlayer on Mac and PC with P4 2GHz or better and 2GB of RAM. Whose interests does that serve?

    But keep in mind: *there is no mobile FlashPlayer*. So even if Apple were rabidly pro-Flash, there would be no Flash on iPhone right now, same as there is no Flash on Android, who have been pleading for it for a couple of years now.

    Adobe scored a PR win in 2007 when they blamed Steve Jobs for the lack of a mobile FlashPlayer. That was utter BS, yet people are still taking it as gospel today. Adobe’s bluff was called in 2008 when Android came along with the same chip from iPhone and said “FlashPlayer, please!” and Adobe was caught empty-handed. Now, in mid-2010, there is still no mobile FlashPlayer. On Android they are about to start a public beta on Nexus One only, no other Android phones, because FlashPlayer mobile requires the latest 2010 Cortex A8 chip. It will not even run on Verizon Droid or iPhone 3G, let alone the original 2007 iPhone. And even then, it reduces the Nexus One’s video playback time from 6 hours to 3 hours.

    So please, please, please: no more “Steve Jobs is ruining Flash” BS. It was a lie in 2007 and it’s a lie today. Apple has not even had the opportunity to refuse FlashPlayer on iPhone OS. The technology simply does not exist.

  6. Backlin April 21, 2010 at 6:46 pm #

    As long as the proprietor of the closed system supports the web as an open system, nobody will really suffer.

  7. Tom Ross April 22, 2010 at 6:22 am #

    Hamranhansenhansen,
    Well put, as usual! If Flash Player for Android isn’t out of beta by the end of the year, they really deserve a nomination for Wired’s Vaporware awards.

  8. Manish April 22, 2010 at 5:16 pm #

    Why oh why? Apple, why? Why are you guys so restrictive?

  9. Stephen April 23, 2010 at 11:56 am #

    Now where does that leave a designer trying to learn the latest programs to up on flash? Do I learn Java, HTML5, flash or some other program. Can’t really learn every program. I would go broke with the program cost and classes.

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