Adobe quits Flash packager for iPhone, Apple comments


Adobe's Mike Chambers put up yet another screed against Apple and their iPhone platform -- specifically the disallowing of cross-compilers -- this time basically saying Adobe was going to stop work on Flash CS5's iPhone packager:

The primary goal of Flash has always been to enable cross browser, platform and device development. The cool web game that you build can easily be targeted and deployed to multiple platforms and devices. However, this is the exact opposite of what Apple wants. They want to tie developers down to their platform, and restrict their options to make it difficult for developers to target other platforms.

Adobe, of course, doesn't care about devices because they don't make devices. They make content development tools (CS5) and delivery platforms (Flash), and as much as they decry Apple wanting to "tie developers down to their platform", that's exactly what Adobe wants as well -- they just want the tied down platform to be Flash.

Apple's Trudy Miller responded to CNET:

"Someone has it backwards--it is HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, and H.264 (all supported by the iPhone and iPad) that are open and standard, while Adobe's Flash is closed and proprietary," said spokeswoman Trudy Miller in a statement.

No doubt both companies are doing what they feel is best for their platform. Adobe makes things easier for developers and more plentiful for users, while Apple wants developers to make more purposeful apps that are better for their devices and users. Arguments can and have been made for both approaches. For Adobe to pretend they're any nobler in these arguments, for them to use faux-nobility to try and rally developer and user support, however, is more than a little disingenuous.

Either way, Adobe seems to be throwing in the Apple towel and going all-in on Android, which is how they really should be handling this -- on the technological battlefield by getting great Flash apps made.

Otherwise we'll say it again -- it reminds us of Microsoft when Firefox shook up the browser space after years of IE6 complacency and ActiveX lock-in. If nothing else, HTML5 might just get Flash going again, though if their as slow to respond as Microsoft has been getting IE9 to market, it might be too late.

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, ZEN and TECH, MacBreak Weekly. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter,, Google+.

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There are 46 comments. Add yours.

J1CA1™ says:

Apple couldn't just give us flash... Oh And I still wonder what's the real reason why the iPhone doesn't have a removable battery Hmmmmmm they could here everything we say!!!!!!!

Tweger01 says:

This just goes to show that grown men can still act like children.

Krypto74 says:

I agree with all of this. If they actually spent more time making apps that were so freaking good, apple would fall over itself to include the technology. It all comes down to who controls what, and it's hilarious to watch two control-freak companies duke it out.

Fafafoooey says:

Apple's response is absolutely correct. Flash is proprietary and all the "STANDARDS" that iPhone/iPad support are not. Adobe is just pissed and they are finally being challenged by someone who will not back down to their attempts to try and monopolize the rich content market. Death to overpriced and under-quality Adobe!!!

Fafafoooey says:

@J1CA1: Flash is not available on any other mobile platform, since it would crash any product, Android, WinMo, BB, etc. Why bash Apple when no one else can provide Flash? Pre cannot even run Flash 10.1, that is supposedly more efficient with resources. So why would Apple be the bad guy not providing Flash?

anon says:

Ding dong! The witch is dead! The witch is dead! ...

fastlane says:

Adobe should just ramp up Flash into another Toon Boom type app, and get it off the web.

J1CA1™ says:

Apple illuminati <--- search this on YouTube it's crazy

icebike says:

Most people are so sick of Flash due to the Punch the Monkey ads that we ignore the fact that some really cool stuff can be done with it.
We are all still pretty much waiting for the promise of HTML5.
Adobe can't rewrite flash for every platform. Realistically you just can't maintain that many codebases. So they have no choice but to use software generation and cross compilers, etc.
Steve put a lockout on Flash, and it won't matter how efficient Adobe makes it, it won't matter how secure they make it, Jobs will come out with yet another avenue of blockage.
Flash today is a ponderous pig, it has some security holes.
But the re-engineered flash for small platforms could have a lot of merit. As smartphone processors get faster and their OS's get better security all rational reasons offered to date for blocking Flash from a platform disappear.
You can't hype your amazing processors and still say Flash is too heavy for them. (Especially when it starts working for others). You can't sing the praises of your sandbox technology, and at the same time decry the risk that comes with flash.
You can't have it both ways.
So, no, its NOT a firefox vs msie argument. Its more fundamental than that. Steve doesn't like Adobe.
But if Adobe succeeds in getting a lite flash to work on mobile platforms, Jobs still won't let it on his. Within 1 year, Flash will be on every Android platform, and Apple will be the odd man out.
Apple has no business pontificating on what is open and what is not. Neither does Adobe.

Jimbo says:

Apple is once again obscuring the issue by waving an irrelevant web standards flag. Section 3.3.1 and 2 have nothing to do with web standards, and apply only to native app development. Whatever you think of Flash itself, Adobe's statement is absolutely correct - Apple is only concerned with locking developers into their closed, proprietary platform.

Gwydion says:

H.264 is not open, it's a propietary codec.
SWF specification is public and anyone can make a compiler or a player.
In one year Flash will be on Android, Meego, Symbian, WebOS and Windows Phone 7 Series.

Rob says:

It's more of an iPhone experience issue. Even though all of those fart apps are trash, they still work perfectly. A cross compiler produces apps that work "good enough". This takes away from the whole experience.

Lollipopjones says:

Actually, Apple is correct. No company should have to be forced or feel they need to support flash in order to compete. This whole argument has nothing to do with Developers. Its all about Adobe attempting to keep Flash as a standard.

Dantv says:

Everyone needs to get this in their heads:
We need FLASH in our browsers as much as we need ActiveX!!!
And if Google supports Flash in Android, then it will expose them as the hipocrites that they are! They're always talking about using the open standards on the Internet yet they want to support Flash! Evil is as evil does!

Gwydion says:

@Dantv Yes, hipocrites like supporting a closed and propietary codec like H264.
Ps. SWF has been open for a long time ago.
But if Uncle Steve says anything, it's writing on stone and everyone repeates his mantras

Sean says:

If what everyone says is true, and HTML5 can replace Flash, then it will only be moments before all the things that made people hate Flash happen in HTML5. I for one can't wait to see how the Punch the Monkey ad looks on your iPhone.
Moreover, this isn't about Flash vs. HTML5. None of the apps in the app store are written in HTML5. Adobe abandoning Flash CS5 being able to cross-compile apps to run on the iPhone has absolutely nothing to do with HTML5.
Actually, Apple's response is actually very telling, in terms of what is really going on here. The ban on non-sanctioned compilers has nothing to do with the quality of the apps it might produce, and everything to do with Flash vs. HTML5.

danny92975 says:

Apple is correct in not allowing Adobe compiler or any compiler for that matter. They want apps running like the OS runs. Adobe wants to rip people off by inticing them to compile for the iPhone OS using CS5 suite wich is extremely over priced. So in turn both companies are doing what they believe to be correct for themselves, thankfully Adobe wil not succeed against Apple decision.

Johnsen says:

H264 open standard? Nope. You need to pay for commercial usage.
Html5 the future? No real alternative, it's just html. Html sucked always, it's just good in combination with other standards likw javascript, php, css...and regarding animation pretty cheap.
Html5 is for newcomers, rookies etc. Flash was, is and will remain the best rich media application.

danny92975 says:

Johnsen you have a great point my friend but when it comes to mobile phones flash is too heavy for those devices. I would enjoy Hulu on my iPhone but Adobe can't make it happen. Flash is for desktop period.

Dantv says:

H264 is a video encoding method not a platform inside of my platform.
Flash and Silverlight and Java all require me to install a "special plugin" to my browser to run those apps. I don't need them. Android doesn't need them, WebOS doesn't need them. WM7 doesn't need them. This insanity with plugins needs to end now! This cross platform stuff is a waste of time. If Adobe wants us to run their apps, then they should just come up with their own platform.

Johnsen says:

agree...but let's see what 10.1 for mobile devices brings up, sound promising so far.
without plugins like flash, java & co. the internet would still be in stone age. Ugly animations, no cool web-applications, flash games, entertainment stuff....all are created nowdays with flash. It's up to you if you need it or not, but the internet wouldn't be that rich without Flash, that's a fact.

Nebetsu says:

I don't understand why Adobe doesn't make a compiler that makes apps that look like they've been compiled in Objective C or whatever it is that they want. Kind of like: "I know this isn't allowed, but prove it."

Jorge says:

Flash has allways been crappy. Ok, if you've got nothing else, it is as good as it gets because... uh... you've got nothing else.
So it is abou time, don't care if it is this html5 or whatever, to become a better alternative so we have something that trully performs right without an octacore.
Again, don't know if these new standards are the way to go, but it was about time that things got moving.

Tweger01 says:

I love how everyone is calling Adobe "sub-par." Do guys forget that they make Photoshop and After Effects? Sure, Premier isn't the industry standard for video editing, but Photoshop is for the photography community.
I'm not a fan of flash, but remember that they make other products.

TumnusMr says:

For those arguing about h.264 not being open, open doesn't necessarily mean free. You can even legitimately charge for open-source GPL software as long as you provide the sourcecode.
And if h.264 is so proprietary and SWF has been open for years, why are there numerous complete implementations of h.264 codecs (some open source) and yet there isn't a single compiler or player for flash that is anywhere near complete? As for relative complexity there are several fairly complete open source HTML renderers and Javascript engines and even WebKit started out as KHTML, which is/was the HTML renderer for KDE's web browser

Dantv says:

Websites I visit on my iphone are fine just the way they are. I don't need flash. And as for my desktop PCs, I don't like Flash games. I'd rather play games that are natively written for the platform that I run, in this case Windows 7. Why does software have to be written to be "cross platform?" That's for the lazy programmers.

Johnsen says:

no single compiler for flash? Better inform....there is Flex Compiler, MTASC, Haxe, Ming...with all of them you can create SWF files without the Flash IDE, costs you 0$. The Flash IDE itself from Adobe is not for nothing so expensive, it's a great tool.
H264 is like a trap. They say, you can use it for free, but only if you don't earn money with the file or earn money indirect. The problem is lots of people don't know this "licensing-issue" about H264. I can release a swf file without worring about licensing. So much about H264. Cool open standard.

Johnsen says:

@ dantv
Cross-Compilers are the future. That's not for lazy developers, that's for all delevopers to earn more money with their written application, without rewriting it for each Device or OS.
That's how they can keep their sales price for their game or app low, because they just wrote the code once and just modified specific stuff for any other device.
It's the same for PC, Xbox and PS3. If everyone is saying "no crosscompilers please", like Apple currently does, it's us Users and Customers which affects this adversely.
Apple doesn't care, they just want money (buy a Mac for Iphone Development). It's legitim, but that's it.

Lollipopjones says:

Ummm..... Games developed for PC have to be basically remade for Console....
Infact Valve made a very valid argument on why they will not make games for PS3. Its also why when a game is made for Windows it basically has to be remade to be played on a MAC.
Console games have to be rewritten when made for the PC and whatnot. Why do you think many games are made for PC as exclusive? X-box is easier to write for hence why a lot of games on it can be adopted back to PC.
And btw many of the games made for Pc and console generally are very buggy. Examples? Bioshock 2 and Prototype. The PC version had terrible lock ups and then for the PC version suffered from the game freezing up and having to delete your saved games. Prototype for PC has sound issues that haven't been solved till this day.
Making games for the PC is challenging enough because they have to write code for a varying amount of hardware. Hence why some games have issues with ATI cards while running smoothly for Nvidia. SOme games are optimized for Nvidia or ATi cards....
Valve will not commit to making PS3 games because its more lucrative to keep it to Windows and X-box due to programming issues (PS3 is very hard to program for.).
Infact if you look at the industry as a whole many new companies are moving towards PC only titles especially since Console makers will not try to ever compete with the PC in the hardware department again (that nearly ruined sony).

TumnusMr says:

@Johnson: I said 'near complete' for the flash compiler, by which I meant supports almost all the features of the latest version. I don't see any tools you listed that meet that criteria except the Flex Compiler but I don't think a tool written by Adobe themselves is a good test of how open a standard is.

Ifuhateit says:

Why can't they submit flaah to dev team n all jailbroken iphone will get that.

danny92975 says:

It's illegal.

barry says:

Ms. Rene:
It should be "they're" and not "their" (...if their as slow...).
Missed English classes or ESL?

Virtuous says:

Flash and Adobe Reader should be banned. Adobe content creation software is vastly overpriced.

AlexLovesStaudts says:

iDont show flash. Good luck getting all these small businesses like restaurants that spent years creating "flashy" web sites to convert. If I would be Android's or Verizon's marketing, I would use the iPhone flash placeholder icon in every single commercial. Sorry to say, the iPhone/iPad web browsing experience is crippled. While I can tolerate it on my iphone, I'm holding off buying a pad thingy from AAPL.

TK says:

You do realize that without a cross complier, the developers would have to make the same app for each platform? That means they would have to make the same thing over and over again for Android, WinMo, Blackberry, Symbian and any other phone OS out there. Would you want to make the same app over and over again and having to use different coding for each platform? Do you realize how much time, resources and money that's going to take?
I'm on Adobe's side. Adobe wants to help developers, develop for all platforms. What Apple is doing is, saying that developers will have to resort to: A) Develop for other platforms and separately develop for the iPhone (doing twice the work). B) Develop only for the iPhone. C) Don't develop for the iPhone at all.
And if they're making developers buy a Mac to develop for the iPhone what's going to happen if that app doesn't sell amongst the 100,000+ apps? They just spent all that money buying a Mac only to have something not sell. And it could be an amazing app too, just that it got overshadowed. But if they want the app to go to the other mobile markets then they have to build it from scratch, but at least they could use a cross compiler to port it to other platforms.
And HTML5 is going to need Flash anyway to animate banners and make them interactive and to animate web cartoons. Apple is also the last company to be calling someone "closed and proprietary." Look at the iPod/iPhone/iPad charger, that's proprietary. If you lose it or it breaks you have to pay $20 for a new one. Unlike microUSB, can't help but trip over those they're so common and universal, I have about three in my house and I don't know where they came from. But if I ever needed one, I would only have to spend $5 on it. Apple is so obviously greedy, and if you can't see that, you're either blind or dead to the world.

Malaytim says:

Flash is not yet mobile capable. Adobe is simple screaming in the dark because they are being left behind. Flash is not going to be mobile capable for at least another year. By then HTML5 will have taken over and Adobe will be out of the Flash business altogether.

danny92975 says:

Adobe is lazy and using old Macromedia tech please they deserve to be left out.

GinoDotCom says:

I really miss the ability to have flash on the iPad. Not enough websites have made themselves iPad friendly :-(

GinoDotCom says:

Didn't think it was too much of a bid deal on the iphone but now with the iPad, I browse a lot more thus coming across thr need for flash more frequently.

Mandalore65 says:

The point is, Apple wouldn't allow flash in the browser. Adobe then spent time and money to develope an alternative that would vastly help developers and also please apple. And when they had finished all the work, and triumphantly announced it as one of their greatest works in CS5, Apple killed it. It was a douche move, whether you like flash or not.

Sandy Chwatuk says:

Jobs a greedy son of gun you can have flash on the iphone with skyfire web browser and this will not crash
Jobs is only into the buck and not giving the people what they want on the iphone flash

Robert Hahn says:

Lots of companies use Flex and AIR to develop in-house apps for their employees to use. These apps are very low volume and do not justify true multi-platform development. If iPad won't support the apps, the companies will not use iPads. Jobs might be right about non-native mass market apps being sucky, but for low volume in-house use, there's no alternative to multi-platform tools.

NatBelza says:

There is a very good reason why apple did this altogether for both web and native iPhone app, banning flash platform and 3rd party compilers.
For web - I have been doing professional flash development and animation for over 5 years. As open web standards are being pushed, I started to realize that flash for web is not the ideal permanent solution for rich web content standards. There has to be something that is supported natively without using 3rd party layer software... Although sadly, this affects my ability to make a living..
I have started to adopt HTML5, I truly believe that there's something very good for us in the future with HTML5.
@TK - I like to note that HTML5 can work by itself, it does not need flash to animate things. You must have been watching too much CS5 demo videos. That's a flash CS5 feature "in response" to open web standards. You can do the same without using flash ide.
@Gwydion - SWF was never been open... I don't know what "open" are you talking about.
The reason why apple prohibits the use of 3rd party packagers such as adobe's iphone packager or monotouch is because, if apple allowed this and a large numbers of developers creates applications for the iphone using 3rd party compilers and became really-really dependent on this cross-compiler. When apple releases a new iOS, it comes with API updates, like 1500 new API's and with hundreds of dropped old slow API's.
Basically, these people behind the 3rd party compilers such as Adobe. If they want to be still in the game, they have to create new counterpart API's, and that's 1:1 new API's. Not just that, they have to rewrite the counterpart API's of the dropped API's and make them still work by adopting to newer replacement API's from apple.
Apple has a lot of resources to invest in people who will engineer and create these new API's. What about those NOT so rich 3rd party compiler people who has limited resources: money, time and human resources?
What if, these makers of 3rd party compilers couldn't keep up with these changes? What if it took them too long to adopt to these changes and then apple again announced a new iOS version that comes with another hundreds of new and better API's and dropped few other API's?
Who will be the first to suffer? Who will be the ones who are greatly affected? It's the consumers, user of these apps that we're unfortunately made with a cross-compiler / 3rd party compiler..
What will happen to the people who are involved? Apple itself is affected, makers of 3rd party compilers are affected, the developers are affected, and the consumer masses.
It's a lose-lose-lose-lose situation... and as a developer, I really don't want that to happen.. It's also a tough decision for apple, but it's seriously the right thing to do. They stopped it before gets worst.

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