Adobe Moves On: Abandons CS5 Compiler

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Adobe Moves On: Abandons CS5 Compiler

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More than a week after Apple's change in the iPhone SDK terms and conditions, Adobe has finished its 'review of the SDK language' and decided that it will not continue developing the Flash-to-iPhone compiler that was just released in Flash CS5.  Mike Chambers, Adobe's principal product manager for the Flash platform, made the announcement:

"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," said Chambers.  So purchasers of Flash CS5 will get the Flash-to-iPhone compiler, but it will no longer be developed.  I'm sure plenty of Flash developers will still try to invade the App Store (100+ AIR apps already did before the T&C change), but it seems like Chambers isn't too confident that the Flash-built apps won't be noticed by the Apple Police: "Developers should be prepared for Apple to remove existing content and applications (100+ on the store today) created with Flash CS5 from the iTunes store," he said.  It would be nice for Flash developers if Adobe could have found a way to remove all traces of being originally built in Flash (or if they open sourced the compiler and let someone else do it) so that Apple couldn't enforce the rule.

"Applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine," was the language used in the iPhone SDK revision on April 8th.  The language is so broad that Apple could make an argument to ban virtually every app ever made.  This clause just reaffirms what developers should have already known - Apple can and will do whatever it wants, and that includes selective enforcement of rules against Flash.  Is there any doubt that Apple made this change solely to block the Flash CS5 compiler?  

In his blog, Chambers lists a number of technologies that are affected by the iPhone's new SDK (Unity, Titanium, MonoTouch, and Flash CS5), but most sources are saying that Titanium is safe and Miguel de Icaza, the leader of the Mono project, says MonoTouch is not affected.  An argument could be made against both of those frameworks' access to the iPhone, but they probably will get through because Apple, it seems, is only interested in blocking everything Flash.

What's worse is that Apple could have told Adobe that they were going to do this many months ago and saved Adobe the time and effort of development, but instead the seemingly sabotage-minded Apple waited until there were 72 hours left before the CS5 release.  Chambers says that Adobe complied with Apple's terms right up until the April 8th change:

"To be clear, during the entire development cycle of Flash CS5, the feature complied with Apple’s licensing terms. However, as developers for the iPhone have learned, if you want to develop for the iPhone you have to be prepared for Apple to reject or restrict your development at anytime, and for seemingly any reason. In just the past week Apple also changed its licensing terms to essentially prohibit ad networks other than its own on the iPhone, and it came to light that Apple had rejected an application from a Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist on editorial grounds (which Apple later said was a “mistake”)."

Chambers says however, that Adobe's work was not in vain.  He says they proved that there's no technical reason why Flash can't work on the iPhone.  Now Adobe plans to take its business elsewhere.  Chambers took the chance to praise Google's Android OS and other platforms' openness.  He suggested that Flash developers who were targeting the iPhone should port to Android instead.  This is an easy task, he said:

"Personally, I am going to shift all of my mobile focus from iPhone to Android based devices (I am particularly interested in the Android based tablets coming out this year) and not focus on the iPhone stuff as much anymore.  …  As I wrote previously, I think that the closed system that Apple is trying to create is bad for the industry, developers and ultimately consumers, and that is not something that I want to actively promote.  …  We are at the beginning of a significant change in the industry, and I believe that ultimately open platforms will win out over the type of closed, locked down platform that Apple is trying to create."

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