Adobe no longer investing in Flash compiler for iPhone, sings Android praises

Adobe’s Mike Chambers has posted about Apple’s new restriction on how applications are built for the iPhone or iPad. He says Adobe is ceasing development work on this feature:

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.

Of course he says “currently” so development could be resumed, presumably if the restriction is lifted.

He also suggests that Apple may be specifically targeting Flash despite the general wording of its notorious clause 3.3.1:

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.

Chambers spends much of his post saying how well Flash runs on Android – though Flash Player 10.1 and AIR 2.0 for Android are still in beta – and suggesting that Flash developers target Android instead.

The problem is that developers will go where their customers are. If Apple continues to increase its market share, its platform will continue to attract developers.

This is another instance of something I blogged about two years ago: the risk of building your business on a third-party platform. My post then was about Amazon, eBay and Facebook. Now the focus is on Apple. Other platforms like and Google have the same inherent problem.

I think this problem will get worse rather than better, as people migrate from general-purpose open platforms to more locked-down appliances.

4 thoughts on “Adobe no longer investing in Flash compiler for iPhone, sings Android praises”

  1. It’s an interesting problem to observe. As on one hand you have Adobe provoking Apple into taking counter measures against their move to democratize the app store building platform and as a result Apple responded in kind with a clause update. Now, had they not done this and say Flash were to get on the iPhone and let’s assume Kevin Lynch is right in his PR that Flash gets actual market share on all platforms, then in turn we’re at the same point today.

    One company holding majority ruling over the key component of agility, UX. Given the industry is fast catching up to the well known existence of “experience matters” (heh go Macromedia) having one company gaining power over this arena and being proprietary at that is a very dangerous move for all brands except Adobe.

    I look at Apple’s move as simply reacting to a game of industry chess. They are aware (from my chats with Apple staffers) of Flash’s potential threat just like Microsoft was when we at the time built Silverlight. The UX Platform is where this new browser war and i predict Google and Apple will back HTML5 which in turn will force Microsoft to react which then leaves Adobe owning the creative tooling story. If this plays out as I see it, this in turn will do what Adobe’s attempting to do now, democratize the UX Platform but in a way that no one company owns the story – thus industry slow-down will occur and differentiators will get shifted into the browser / operating system forking(s) that will occur.

    I know both Microsoft and Apple are exploring how HTML5 + Operating System level control can be leveraged, given if they can expose this concept down to the metal it in turn can grow their “app store” models but in a way that has less friction or entry point attached – as everyone knows HTML. Then if you want to go beyond HTML5, you get the “desktop/device extensions” which is where you get specific differentiation.

    Anyway, I think all Adobe’s attempting to do atm is throw Apple under the bus and paint them the bad guy, when its really both of them underestimated one another and are both losing.

    Scott Barnes
    ex Rich Platforms Product Manager at Microsoft.

  2. So Mr Barnes thinks Adobe is the bad guy and ‘provoking’ Apple. Gimme a break. Does he for one minute believe that Apple would let HTML5 free reign if it was or ever becomes a viable platform for apps, and thereby threatening the App Store?

    I’m just glad the whole ‘Flash runs badly, Flash eats battery, Flash uses too much CPU’ FUD is out the way and Apple has been forced to effectively admit that they are too scared to let Flash (and indeed Silverlight etc) into their sandpit. Well guess what, the cool kids will play elsewhere. And their new playground may not be just Android.

    Whatever next? Apple will ban Android from running on the iPhone too? Oh, errr…

  3. Stefan,

    I’m indifferent to Adobe or Apple being the bad guy – as they both are bad 🙂

    HTML5 is their chosen “breadth” development platform, look at Safari and for evidence of that and you’re a video codec guy through and through, you have to admit that having the ye-olde video tag in the room allows Apple to retain a natural amount of control over the video story without forcing Quicktime to be specifically embedded into HTML like it is today.

    Android isn’t the iPhone and Apple are growing quite healthy in terms of market share (, so whilst devs or app minded folks are all giddy and excited over Android the reality is unless Microsoft tips its hat towards it (ie tooling and 6million .net devs is nothing to shy away from) it will be a fringe device that “could of been great” and the Flash developer base which is largely made up of 2/3rds non-AS3 development won’t suddenly create a surge of interest in its adoption. Even if you were to argue “well Flash devs etc will create more apps over time etc” that is fine but they will also work equally on Windows Phone 7 and so on given Flash is attempting to unify the platform story under one roof.

    Thus it will starve out differentiation and meanwhile, iPhone vNext etc will continue to secure a descent size of the market share. Companies etc will react and serve up a specific channel to meet Apple at its front door and this may range from objective-c apps through to HTML5 web apps.

    Android has to beat both Apple and Microsoft (see to take out majority share, that’s two companies with quite aggressive budgets and marketing might to overthrow. I just don’t see it getting beyond Microsoft at best (which i think is dooable in the next 2-3 years if its planned right).

  4. Apple wants to protect/guarantee the quality of the user experience of what makes it into the App Store; doing this is why it has been so successful. I don’t think they are interested in opening a channel to a bunch of potential ‘shovelware’ of repurposed Flash content. In my opinion it was not a bad call, despite the fact that I do a lot of projects in Flash and would loved to have put them on the iPad/iPhone myself.

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