Adobe’s Kevin Lynch: we’re focusing on everybody else

I enjoyed this interview with Adobe’s Kevin Lynch from Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco, where he talks about the Apple problem. Adobe has created a compiler for Flash that creates a native code iPhone application, but Apple’s latest developer agreement prohibits its use.

Lynch presents it as a matter of freedom. Software developers should be allowed to target multiple operating systems with one code base; and developers should be allowed to deploy applications without needing permission from a company.

“We’re focusing on everybody else” he says, talking about forthcoming devices that will support Flash and the Flash-based Open Screen Project. “All the variety and the innovation that happening with all hese other companies is going to dwarf what’s happening from one company,” he says. “We’re at the beginning of the game not the end of the game.”

The snag is that Apple’s devices are the most attractive market for applications, thanks to smooth deployment via the App Store and the higher than average wealth of Apple’s customers. It’s a matter of which is more true: that Flash is marginalising iPhone and iPad, or that iPhone and iPad are marginalising Flash.

I’d also suggest that having Adobe control the platform for the Open Screen Project is not ideal, if we are going to talk about software freedom. If you listen to the interview, notice how Lynch tries to avoid mentioning Flash in the same breath as the Open Screen Project. It’s really the Adobe Flash Screen Project, but you wouldn’t know from what he says.

Nevertheless I agree with both his points. Both the App Store and Apple’s new restrictive developer agreement are bad for competition and I dislike them. That said, I doubt that the existence of a few upset developers will have any noticeable impact on Apple’s success. What will make a difference is if the “variety and innovation” which Lynch talks about produces devices that are better than Apple’s offerings.

4 thoughts on “Adobe’s Kevin Lynch: we’re focusing on everybody else”

  1. Tim,

    While I am certainly not a great fan of Apple’s current tactics and do somewhat agree with Kevin Lynch’s statements. However, Apple isn’t really unique in regards to how they’re handling their platform. Look at the game console market (XBox, PS3, Wii). Nintendo is controls their platform even more than Apple controls their mobile platforms (iPhone, iPad, ect…). In order to sell a game for their platform, you have to get their blessing along with paying licensing fees. Once you get through that hurdle, Nintendo gets a cut of all games sold. I’ve not seen anyone doing any comparisons along these lines or analysed whether or not Apple’s moves are truly unique or if they’ve just been taking plays from the game console market’s play book. I suspect the uproar is based on the broader consumer reach of their platform, thus the greater visibility among developers and the development press. The game console market doesn’t cut across as many demographics as do Apple’s products.


  2. Allen

    It’s a complex discussion. Yes there’s a games console precedent, but is a smartphone or tablet “like” a games console? What if most of our day-to-day computing ends up being done on devices sold according to that model, should that concern us?


  3. While I’m loath to even hint at defending Apple’s position, I do have to wonder *why* the rules have to be different for Apple? I suspect that the paramount concern among developers is exactly like what you said; “What if most of our day-to-day computing ends up being done on devices sold according to that model…?” Is this a harbinger of what is coming for the developer community? What if such a clause (iPhone OS 4.0, section 3.3.1) were adopted by other platform vendors? As a developer who creates developer tools, this is a very real concern.

    Developers are the ultimate control-freaks. When that control is threatened, our options are limited, and even a dictum about *how* we’re to write our applications is handed down from upon high, we bristle at that very notion.

  4. People will decide with their feet, and the platform with the most available software usually comes out on top. There’s already plenty of software around for the iPhone as it was the first with the nice hardware and OS, but with that being locked down, Android is in the ascendency. Having played with an HTC Desire, it is serious competition to the iPhone and considerably cheaper, so I will definitely be considering one for my next smartphone, as I find the lack of Flash rather annoying and the biggest drawback to the iPhone, alongside poor integration with Outlook and the ever-annoying iTunes.

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