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.