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War between Apple and Adobe, Myth or Reality?

And what seemed to be a simple breeze of discord has turned into a full-blown storm. In response to Adobe’s attempts to jump on the iPhone app bandwagon , by creating a specific translator to convert Flash apps into apps ready to be sent to the App Store, Apple has responded by further closing the loop with its licenses for the development SDK .

As I commented in an article a few weeks ago, introducing Flash in a device like the iPhone, is not as simple as it may seem a priori. At that time I was focusing on usability concepts of an environment like Flash in a multi-touch terminal.

War between Apple and Adobe, Myth or Reality?
War between Apple and Adobe, Myth or Reality?

Now let’s review certain myths that abound about the new Flash player introduced by Adobe for this type of new device. Everything is not as it seems and the panorama is not as black as we sometimes paint it.

One of the first arguments against Apple is the lock it has mounted around the iPhone OS. It only allows you to use its development APIs , although what it is really asking for is that it be developed under certain languages (Objective C, C, C++).

Is this significant enough to vilify Apple? This kind of practice is more common than one might think. To give simple examples, the XBox, Playstation or Wii have their own APIs .

Many of them imply high costs in licenses for the companies that decide to develop for them. But not only that, a highly specific training is necessary for the people who are going to develop for them.

When the development environment for Playstation 3 was presented, one year before the launch of the console, it was estimated that it would take around three to four years before they would be able to start using the full potential of the console.

Without being drastic, the iPhone SDK, based on Objective-C, direct heir of the C is extremely simple, based on a widely used language and this we have been able to see in how quickly the results began to be noticed after the SDK was released.

Recently, after reading another article, I learned about the Flash player for mobile devices that I didn’t know about and that demolishes many of the arguments that Apple is accused of with this workhorse. To begin with, 60% of the internet traffic generated by smartphones, occurs on devices that do not have the ability to play Flash .

Although it wasn’t until the summer of last year that Adobe really got down to business, the first Flash player for actual mobile devices is Flash Lite 3 , which was released after the original iPhone . And that player was not able to interpret many of the Flash contents generated for desktop computers.

The current version of the Flash player, 10.1, requires a certain type of processor to work that is only available on WebOS and Android devices that are a few months old and the iPhone 3GS . So the much-vaunted new player is only really operational on recent handsets .

Another reason given for attacking this Apple lock, is that allowing Flash to enter your device, the free games would be a problem for the app store numbers. The ability to play these web games would negatively influence the sales of video games in your store.

By that rule of three, the inclusion of Flash in all desktop browsers would have influenced sales of Video Games for Windows and Mac. And I’m afraid that this has not been the case after it has been demonstrated in the last few years that the video game industry generates more money than the movie or music industry.

With companies like Electronic Arts, Gameloft or Konami producing high quality platform titles, it seems impossible to notice much of a drop in sales. Any videogame fan would still buy quality titles on the App Store, even if they used flash games casually.

One of the most widespread comments since we discovered that Apple would not allow Flash in any way is that Apple should be careful, as Adobe may decide not to offer its applications for Mac OS X . If we seriously think about it, cutting all the Adobe users in Mac the possibility of acquiring licenses, would be a revenue cut that I don’t see very clear that Adobe could assume.

When Apple switched to Netscape for Mac OS 9 at the expense of IExplorer , or when it introduced its own Office Suite with iWork , Microsoft continued to develop Office for Mac and it sure continues to benefit.

Perhaps Apple should give the user the opportunity to choose , offering the possibility of installing Flash or not, but if we analyze it in depth, it has been Adobe that has rested on its laurels and has not done its homework. Flash Player 10 is not a panacea , as there is a percentage of Flash content that it cannot play. Apple has been developing the iPhone for three years and it is now that Adobe has tried to present its option.

In all this time Apple has had to bet on its winning horse, which has been none other than the HTML 5 , which is (will be) a standard, which cannot be said of Flash. So, even if it seems that way, it’s the users who win. Windows phone 7 series announced that it would have Flash, but since Redmond they have been saying that and they don’t put a date for its introduction in the OS.

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I might repeat myself, since I’ve used this argument many times. If ten years ago Flash was already seen as something doomed to be replaced by Javascript and style sheets, perhaps Apple’s strategy of betting on HTML 5 is the most suitable .

But this is all just about choosing options . In my specific case, because of my user profile, the times I need Flash on the iPhone can be counted with my fingers only. If I couldn’t do without it, I’ve always managed to access a desktop computer.

Let’s hope that the bad omens don’t come true and Adobe continues to offer us great programs for our Macs, and even does its bit on the App Store, something it has already done with programs as good as PS Mobile . With the release of the iPad, Adobe’s possibilities for developing interesting applications increase.


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