Why Apple Closed off the iPhone and iPad to Flash Developers

apple flash gestureworks logoA lot has been said about Apple’s closed-door policy in regards to Flash development for the iPad and iPhone. I’m not talking about Apple supporting Flash on the devices but rather the decision to close off the Apple Store to apps created in Adobe’s CS5. Several reasons Apple’s decision have been cited: Apple would have to deal a flood of apps in their store, third-party authoring will lead to substandard apps and will “hinder the progress of the platform,” or Flash apps won’t perform as well particularly if Apple tries to add multitasking.  I seriously doubt that any of these are correct.

I think that Apple simply didn’t want Flash developers to gain any kind of a foothold in designing for mobile and tablet devices. If Flash developers started to develop apps, they would begin to grapple with the UI issues that are inherent in creating programs for these new mobile and tablet devices. They would begin to incorporate multitouch events, develop and incorporate UI elements like dials and switches and become, as a group, much more savvy in regards to mobile development. They would have also created a slew of Flash-based apps ready for other mobile and tablet devices.

If Apple had allowed these Flash developers a head start designing for iPad and iPhone, they would have more easily been able to transition to the dozens of tablet-based devices and smart phones that have already been announced for later this year. Flash will run on Android 2.2, WebOS, Google Chrome, and WinOS, so the number of potential devices is vast. All of these will compete directly with the iPhone and iPad. The Android OS has already surpassed Apple’s iPhone OS in sales for the first quarter of the year.

By closing the Apple Store to Flash developers, Apple bought themselves some time; onlylater this year Flash will begin to compete directly with Apple. Our own GestureWorks multitouch framework for Flash will work with all these devices, so true multitouch is ready for mobile. It should be an interesting year.

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