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.


5 thoughts on “Why Apple Closed off the iPhone and iPad to Flash Developers

  1. I wouldn’t discount the performance issue, seeing how poorly optimized Flash is on my MBP, and the fact that Adobe hasn’t gotten Flash working decently on *any* mobile device yet.

  2. Adobe makes buggy apps, including Flash. I work on Adobe CS products all day, and they all suck. Not to mention the fact that if you run Flash on any portable device, after 10 seconds, you can cook an egg on it, then it crashes. I have a Droid and Flash crashes 8 out of 10 times. Finally, i turned it off. I don’t want Flash, please keep Flash. The worse piece of crap app development ever!!!

  3. Jim Spadaccini on said :
  4. There’s no doubt that both performance and quality are issues that Adobe needs to address. (The CS suite is different than Flash, but point taken.) However, we’ve managed to build very sophisticated and stable applications for very demanding environments public using Adobe Flash. Virtually all of our exhibit work is developed with Adobe Flash.

    It seems pretty obvious that Apple is interested in working with Adobe at all and would rather they not make any progress in the mobile platform. Dave I agree Adobe hasn’t gotten Flash working (successfully) on *any* devices…*yet!* However, I think Adobe has finally gotten the message. Just wait, I’m convinced Flash will be a major player here and will make their entry by the end of the year. They can’t be so dominant on the Web and yet remain invisible on mobile for too long. If I’m wrong I will buy you a beer at AAM 2011.

  5. Everett on said :
  6. Though I doubt that Apple is so magnanimous, my theory is that Flash is unsupported because it is still Adobe’s proprietary technology that can only be compiled using a singular piece of software. The technology Apple is adopting is available under a variety of free and open licenses and overseen by experts in the industry and not one sole company.

    I also think that the separation of code from content on the front-end is another hurdle for Flash. It’s difficult to separate code from content with the Flash Player in a browser, making it harder to translate content to an international audience or screen reader without a lot of work.

    The UI dials and switches you mention can generally be built with myriad programming libraries with free or open licenses.

    This, in no way let’s Apple off the hook though for their other transgressions (hardware lockdown, etc).

  7. Roberto on said :
  8. The real fact is that Flash, as Java, is an outdated tech. We can easily make things with html5 that only flash experts could do. There’s why I can’t see a longer life to flash (aka flash, flex).

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