Leave Apple Alone

Bloomberg (via Daring Fireball): “May 4 (Bloomberg) — U.S. antitrust enforcers are considering an investigation of Apple Inc. following a complaint from Adobe Systems Inc., according to people familiar with the matter.”

Yesterday, on Twitter, I asked “Can you develop XBox 360, Sony Playstation, or Wii apps using Flash?” There was a reason for that question. I was hoping someone would take the bait, but alas, nobody obliged. Once again I ask, can you develop XBox 360, Sony Playstation, or Wii apps using Flash? I’m fairly confident the answer is “NO.”

From the Microsoft XBox Developer site: “At this time, access to development tools for the Xbox 360â„¢ video game console is limited to developers working on approved titles for licensed publishers. This will change over time, so check back for more information in the future.”

At this time you can’t even develop for the platform. Sorry, I’m picking on Microsoft, but I’m most familiar with the XBox so it was easy to find information on developing for the platform.

Why doesn’t Adobe complain about lack of Flash support on those platforms? Money, that’s why. Adobe stands to lose money if it can’t sell it’s Flash development tools targeting the extremely successful iPhone and iPad. For some reason they’re not beating down the door at Microsoft, Sony, or Nintendo trying to get on their game platforms. They’re closed systems, but I guess gaming consoles are somehow different?

Yeah, but…

I’ve been carrying on a conversation with a co-worker about iPhone, and iPad, development and he’s not happy about Apple’s stance. He says he doesn’t have access to the platform because he has to invest in an Apple computer($599.00) and pay to join the iPhone Developer Program($99.00). For $700.00 you can develop Mac, iPhone, and iPad applications. I can see where that could be a bit intimidating, $700.00 is a chunk of change. But what does it cost to use Flash to develop on any platform? To purchase Adobe Flash Builder will set you back, that’s right, you guessed it, $699.00. Same price. There may be free tools, I don’t know, I don’t use Flash.

Why punish iPhone and iPad developers?

There’s an entire class of developers out there working hard to deliver iPhone and iPad applications, they’re using the preferred technologies, and quite a few of them are doing quite well. Hey, if a knuckle head like me can figure out how to write and publish an iPhone app, anyone can. Is Flash really a great development tool? Really? All designers aren’t necessarily developers, there are a few that bridge the gap, but not many. I’d venture to guess there is a lot of really bad Flash code running on the web today, Flash is the new Visual Basic, it gives folks something they can create with, that’s great, create away! My question is why do you feel you have to be able to write Flash code to run on the iPad or iPhone? Is there some code of ethics that says you have the right to create Flash based programs that can run everywhere? Why would someone think that? I have an idea.

If you want to create apps for the iPad or iPhone pick up a book, get a compiler, sign up to be an iPhone developer and you can create apps to your hearts content. I’m pretty sure you can create “Punch the Monkey” using Objective-C and Cocoa Touch.

I’ve rambled on long enough, have a great night.

By Rob Fahrni

Husband / Father / Developer

5 replies on “Leave Apple Alone”

Last week on Twitter, I asked”Flash for video and casual games I get, but are there actually any decent-looking real apps built with it? (serious question).” Likewise, no answer.

I see people saying that Flash is more than just video, games and advertising-delivery, but I don’t see any out there. I can’t find a practical, rational reason why developers are so upset about Apple’s move.

Marketing companies love it. I think it gives their designers a way to create without the need for developers. That’s fine, I don’t have a problem with that. If you want to build Flash apps, have at it, just don’t gripe when the hot new platform doesn’t support it.

That’s my main point.

I think Flash forced the W3C into action. We now have standards that will allow us to do a lot of what Flash did. We’re moving in the right direction.

As for the Wii, you can run some Flash content – Flash Lite is available, as with Windows Mobile phones and the Chumby.

Disclaimer: I am a developer, and a fan of both Apple products and Adobe Flash as a development platform.

The point most developers are missing is this is also *management* issue. Supporting multiple platforms for a development project is expensive. If I can write a library or a core module of my application once and use it across platforms, with maybe only a custom display tier, I can have a broader reach for less money. Java wanted to be this in 1996, but Flash really made it happen, particularly with Flex. And that’s ignoring entirely the pain of cross-platform testing (think: IE vs. Web Standards).

The side effect of this is that the *user experience* is not native on all of these platforms – the menus and widgets are Flash, not native. If you haven’t done your research and design properly the app will not work in a way that makes sense to users of each different platform.

And this is what Apple won’t let happen. Apple spends so much money on a crafted user experience, and they don’t want that cheapened by lazy developers who don’t want to learn what makes the iPhone the iPhone.

In other words, Apple doesn’t want “same crap, different App Store.”

I think your question was a little off. It should have been, “If Adobe developed a Flash Player for XBox 360, Sony Playstation, or Wii, would Microsoft, Sony or Nintendo actively block it?” I’m not sure the XBox developer site quote covers that, but it’s an interesting question.

@Brian, I love the “crafted user experience” line. Perfect explanation of the iPhone, and what this battle is all about.

@Jamie, Yep, that’s a very good question. It’s not one I think will get asked, or answered.

Comments are closed.