Thursday, September 9, 2010

Apple Blinks. Flash Tools Now Allowed

As many of you know, I have been fairly agressive in complaining about Apple developer guidelines, and specifically section 3.3.1 of their developer agreement which prevents developers from using any interpreted code, or, essentially, any compiler not created by Apple.

Apple instituted the 3.3.1 clause in order to lock out Adobe from offering a Flash based development platform for the iPhone. Adobe was offering a development tool that allowed flash developers to compile their programs into iPhone compatible binaries. There was no good reason for Apple to block this tool other than fear and loathing of Adobe.

Apple has conceded. They have essentially rescinded all of the madness associated with 3.3.1. This is an amazing turn of events. It is exceedingly rare for Apple to capitulate, and it can only mean that pressure from the popularity of the far more open Android has taken its toll. It looks to me like the accelerating rate of Android app development and user adoption has apple concerned, as well they should be.

To be clear, I am a Mac, iPhone, and iPad user. I love their products. But I have hated many of their policies and business practices. This change does not lead me to believe that Apple has changed its philosophy, but I am ecstatic that competition from Android is forcing Apple to make the iPhone a more competitive, more open, and therefore better platform for users and developers.


  1. Maybe they just realised that it was restricting too many legitimate use cases for various different tools e.g. Lua in games (although I believe sometimes that was still allowed). Rather than pressure from Android, or Flash.

  2. Now that there are over 25,000 apps for iPad, many app developers have already created native applications for the platform. Dido for iPod touch and iPhone 4 (with Retina display resolution). So now there's no longer a need to hold back on others from developing in a more cross-platform approach.

    For Apple, it was a good move to slow down Flash development and get a lot of developers writing natively for the platform. I don't think it hurt them much - actually, the "trick" worked.

  3. Look for an announcement by Microsoft regarding an App Store for their suite of devices like Windows Phone, Xbox Live, and Windows Media Center.

    Apple's announcement is no coincidence, of course, but bending to developer pressure is highly unlikely. So long as iOS is overwhelmingly dominant, which it is now, there is no reason for Apple to capitulate.

    However, bending to competition, real competition, not just shady numbers and non-contextual information, is just not how Jobs does things.

  4. Great so now instead of playing a flashgame for free on the web you can pay what $1 to play it?

  5. Mobile development just needs to align itself with the existing standards of desktop development. This walled-garden, and strict developer terms nonsense needs to be trashed completely. Which is one of the reasons why I prefer Android.

  6. Hey.. where does it read FLASH IS ALLOWED?? Did not see that in the 'concession' link above.

  7. I think you're totally wrong. I don't see what this has to do with Android. Android development isn't accelerating because of Flash or Flash compilers. Where's the evidence of that?

    Wired had a great article about what may have motivated Apple and it's more likely that Apple was looking down the barrel of government intervention.

    More than likely though, this was a controlled attempt by Apple to delay Adobe's cross compiling environment so that more developers would standardize on iOS with Objective-C tools. By delaying Adobe with outright rejection, it weakened the cross compiler market by several months, making them practically useless now.

    Apple is playing a much deeper game here, chess rather than checkers. They're three moves ahead. They've got everyone singing their praises now, when more than likely they can now work to reject cross compiled apps at the review level, thereby shielding themselves from government intervention. Think about it.

    Apple can still reject apps for arbitrary reasons (i.e. duplicating functionality, bugs, etc) This move is absolutely brilliant.

  8. I think Clark makes a good point. Google isn't really competing that well with the app store. Just look at their ridiculously small worldwide coverage in comparison to the apple app store (for any non-free apps). I couldn't even buy android apps if I wanted to (well, I suppose there are competitors to the android market, I just don't really care enough to find them).

    Microsoft has already announced that they will roll out their own app store, btw. But considering their ham-handed attempts at joining the market (how many embedded OSs are they pushing out?), I don't see Apple running scared. Microsoft, as always, will go for the business market (think POS devices) and will do well there, but Win Phone 7 looks like it will be DOA (I could be wrong, of course).

    A slightly less cynical way to look at this would be to recognize that developers no the iOS platform felt really slighted and all the bad press was making Apple look bad. Apple wants to have the cool new platform young and aspiring devs flock to. Or perhaps John Carmack just said "look, nobody's going to do 3D on this without a proper framework" and Jobs said "okay". Sometimes it's that simple.

  9. Just to add to my earlier comment, someone on another blog said that Apple has given Flash developers just enough rope to hang themselves.

    And you'll notice, Apple has set their rejection guidelines in stone now. They can reject your app based on UI guidelines, duplicating functionality, poor performance, or simply because there's too many particular apps, whatever that means.

    So Apple can now look at the FTC and say "hey, we're allowing cross compilers now, is it our fault we have to reject so many because they run so poorly?"

    Absolutely brilliant.

  10. Apple competes with Windows vendors cartel and fight against pseudo-tech journalists.
    Lately, fight pseudo-tech journalists and Android vendors cartel.

    When you criticize Apple you rarely take in account Apple own survival strategies.


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