European Union joins FTC probe into lack of Flash support in Apple's iOS
The European Union has decided to throw their efforts behind the
publicity grab FTC investigation into Apple's lack of support for Adobe's Flash player and Flash cross-compiler on iPhone and iPad says the New York Post:
According to a source, the European Commission recently joined the FTC probe into whether Apple's business practices harm competition.
The investigation could last another four to six months, the source said.
Steve Jobs famously penned an open letter describe why Apple, a public, for-profit company in a nation founded on free enterprise, has chosen not to support Flash video or Flash cross-compiled apps on their iOS devices -- which comprise nowhere near a majority much less monopoly market-share in smartphones or mobile devices. (Though, hey, no one has made an iPad competitor yet, so maybe Apple has a monopoly on pads? Ready your torches and pitchforks!). Jobs said at the D8 conference that, like floppy drives, it's a dead-end proprietary technology and the future will be the open standards of HTML5.
That consumers who want Flash support can buy Android, BlackBerry, and Palm -- er, sorry, a couple of Android devices that now have the Froyo 2.2 OS on them (Adobe has still, some 4 years later, failed to ship mobile Flash for most devices or platforms) -- is apparently not enough in a competitive environment. That developers who want to compile in Flash can target the monolithic web platform and those same Android devices is likewise, apparently, not enough.
It's been rumored that Adobe complained to the FTC after Apple changed the language in iOS 4's license agreement to prevent the use of cross-compilers. Apple doesn't support code interpreters or ahead-of-time cross-compilers in iOS, be they Adobe Flash, Oracle Java, Microsoft Silverlight and ActiveX, or anything else. On Mac OS X, they do (and they've just worked with Adobe to get hardware H.264 acceleration into the latest Flash for Mac plugin).
Apple has explained that if they update iOS and add new features, they don't want to have to worry about developers who have become locked into Adobe (or anyone else's) cross-compilers having to wait for Adobe to update -- or worse, fail to update -- before users can get those features. Imagine for example if developers couldn't update their apps with iOS 4 multitasking support or retina display graphics because the cross-compiler they were locked into hadn't gotten around to it or decided not to do it until Android had the same screen resolution as well.
For developers using Xcode and Cocoa Touch, it's a non-issue. For Flash developers who want to keep developing in Flash but access the iOS platform, it's a game ender. However, I'm still failing to see what roll the government has in spending time and tax dollars investigating that, other than Apple gets great headlines?
(And for the record, I'd have the same reaction if the government decides to go after Microsoft for not having Flash or QuickTime on Windows
[New York Post, thanks to everyone who sent this in.]