Apple to xplatform developers: We’re no longer suicidal

About 15 years ago, I think it was a Seybold expo in Boston, I was watching a Dell representative demo new PCs to, what looked like from behind, a small group of corporate executives in expensive suits.

Towards the end of the demo one of those executives turned to look around the huge Dell booth and, as luck would have it, saw me a few steps back. He was a former client of mine and someone who could write very big checks for hardware and software acquisition at one of the largest media companies in the world. He came over, with the Dell rep in tow, to chat. Finally, he asked, “What do you think of these Dells?” I don’t quite recall how delicately I put it but my response was something like, “If you don’t care about dealing with a commodity hardware vendor focused on price and an OS provider that neither understands nor cares much about publishing, sure, they are cheaper.”

That was a time when the multitasking Windows NT had begun to siphon off a considerable number of Mac users, even from the erstwhile Apple strongholds in creative industries. Application developers had started to migrate their once Mac-only software to Windows. Then, PCs were considerably cheaper than Macs, but unfortunately Wintel offerings had some some significant deficiencies in design workflow, including font handling, OS-wide color matching, high-res printing, etc.

While Apple did go through very dark times, the mass exodus foretold by the PC camp was never able to deliver a knock-out blow to Macs and Dell soon lost interest in targeting Apple’s creative user base that largely stayed with the beleaguered company. A few years later, Steve Jobs took over Apple and today it’s the third most valuable company in the U.S., over seven times bigger than Dell in market capitalization.

Exodus redux?

Today, if one listens to pundits and geeks, Apple is again at the cusp of an exodus of developers and losing its primacy in the mobile device space. The latest issue is Apple’s management of the App Store. Fifteen years later, the tone is quite different. I don’t ever recall an Apple competitor signing off a diatribe with a “Go screw yourself Apple” in print then. But today I’m not interested in commenting on Adobe’s naked attempt to agitate its developer base to browbeat Apple in public, but in exploring what choices App Store developers currently have beyond Apple’s “walled garden.”

Many of the App Store developers got into creating products for mobile devices precisely because for the very first time in history the iPhone allowed them to bypass the limits, cost and sheer operational lunacy imposed by telecom carriers. In less than a couple of years, Apple created an online distribution monster of 185,000 apps and 3.5 billion downloads. The fact that no other app store clone has been able to even approach that ought to tell developers something about the magnitude of the efficacy of the App Store. The grass isn’t greener elsewhere.

Why not?

Fifteen years ago Dell and Microsoft found out that selling beige boxes on the cheap to Mac users wasn’t as easy as it would appear on a spreadsheet. Beyond cookie-cutter hardware and simple OS services, these users demanded a frictionless ecosystem. Today’s iPhone OS user base is much larger but just as discerning. What they represent, as marketing demographics, is historically unique. Just as Dell now realizes that ‘marketshare-at-any-cost’ is indeed a ruinous business model, it’s not the number of users but the demographics of that user base that counts:

  • No other vendor can boast an ecosystem of 100 million devices (from phones to gaming devices to tablets) unified under a single OS, app/media store and a reliable and proven schedule of innovation pipeline.
  • No other vendor has ever put together the depth and breath of an ecosystem of music, videos, TV, movies, podcasts, games, apps and soon books, magazines, comics and newspapers like the iTunes store.
  • No other vendor can match Apple’s global base of 100 million users with iTunes credit card accounts, with 49% of iPhone users having a college education and 67% earning more than $70,000 a year.
  • No other vendor’s user base is as diverse or as engaged: while 3/4 of Android users are male, iPhone OS users are nearly equally divided. iPhone OS devices’ share of browsing traffic is twice the rest of the industry combined. Also iPhone users buy apps at about twice rate of Android users’.
  • No other vendor has anything like the iPhone touch. While 78% of iPod touch users are under 25, only 24% of Android users are, and as a Flurry report aptly summarizes:

    when today’s young iPod Touch users age by five years, they will already have iTunes accounts, saved personal contacts to their iPod Touch devices, purchased hundreds of apps and songs, and mastered the iPhone OS user interface. This translates into loyalty and switching costs, allowing Apple to seamlessly “graduate” young users from the iPod Touch to the iPhone.

  • No other vendor dominates mobile games like Apple now. With over 50,000 games in the App Store, it has 10 and 20 times what Nintendo and Sony offers respectively, and this before Apple’s Game Center has even shipped.
  • No other vendor offers the ease of use of a single click “purchase & install” capability as smoothly as Apple. In fact, just finding an online store on other platforms to purchase an app appropriate to one’s device can be a chore.
  • No other vendor markets its app store clone as pervasively or obsessively as Apple, by featuring how apps are actually used.
  • No other vendor actually makes any significant profit from its app store clone, and when there’s no profit vendors usually lose the incentive to focus on products.
  • No other vendor has been as capable of patiently educating its user base to adopt new technologies and usage patterns, like multitouch computing, one-click transactions, in-app purchasing, virtual typing, casual games on phones, etc.

The escape clause

These are among what developers would leave behind if they choose to abandon Apple for uncharted and unproven platforms of other vendors. Users do not follow esoteric open/closed platform politics, they vote with their money for convenience, reliability and value.

In order to become a better garden for developers, it’s not enough for other vendors to offer something that iPhone or iPad doesn’t. They have to match and better Apple’s current iPhone OS driven devices across all fronts. webOS had multitasking but no content. Nokia has market share but no direction or excitement. RIM caters to enterprise but not much else. Motorola still thinks it’s enough to manufacture handsets and leave everything else to ‘partners’ that turn around and stab you in the back. Android may be open but is currently a geek ghetto with nothing to match iTunes store. And, let’s not kid ourselves, Google is there not to ‘help’ but to commoditize hardware manufacturers by funneling them to compete against each other on Google’s platform largely on price.

Apple’s hand

Over the years, it must have been embarrassing for Steve Jobs to swallow his contempt every time he had to invite an executive from Microsoft or Adobe to the stage at a keynote event to explain why their Mac product was behind schedule and inferior to their Windows version.

However, 2010 is not like 1994. Apple has money, mindshare and the hottest platform to no longer having to beg. Today, Apple is more concerned about having to re-live its recent history — getting jerked around by Microsoft or held hostage by Adobe — than what it thinks would be manageable damage by a few developers that may leave its platform. Some may regard that as being arrogant. For Apple it’s the price of being in charge of its own destiny. To capitulate at the height of its newly found vigor would be suicidal. Suicidal Apple is no longer.

76 thoughts on “Apple to xplatform developers: We’re no longer suicidal

  1. In response to “Many of the App Store developers got into creating products for mobile devices precisely because for the very first time in history the iPhone allowed them to bypass the limits, cost and sheer operational lunacy imposed by telecom carriers” :

    It may well be true that the grass isn’t greener elsewhere, and that iOS and the App Store represents an unprecedented opportunity for mobile development, etc, but the above isn’t quite true — the major smartphone platforms that predated the iPhone had their own problems, but AFAIK the telecom carriers had no say over what apps you could install on a circa-2007 smartphone running Palm OS, Windows Mobile, or Symbian. And in fact those platforms had significant app markets, though the volume (of those entire platforms, and also, largely accordingly, their app markets) was later dwarfed by iOS.

    Still, explaining away Apple’s occasionally self-interested curation of the App Store as simply replacing one self-interested curator with another, and a monotonic improvement, is not a correct representation of smartphone history. Maybe it is of feature phone history.

  2. “Once I am inside the Adobe operating system, I could care less about Mac or Windows…”

    I hope, then, you can understand why Apple doesn’t care about people who don’t care about Apple.

  3. So what are you planning to do when Steve bans Photoshop, or Illustrator or InDesign from your desktop,because he thinks these applications are buggy or slow, or he just wants you to use Apple’s inferior tools! Or even worse what do you plan to do when Adobe gives up on Apple completely.

    Apple was at fault for the Mac CS4 non 64 bit problem as they promised Adobe that they would deliver Carbon 64 and then dropped development of it as Adobe went to beta on CS4.

    Designers have seen Apple pull all kinds of nasty stuff on Adobe, but the Apple Fanboys seem to know the history as it has been delivered from Steve’s reality distortion field. I was at Sybold when Steve and Bill yanked the rug out from under John Warnock…and Apple still does not play nice with others.

    Adobe and graphic designers were the only ones who were the true believers when Apple went through some pretty dark days. Yes, Adobe has moved some applications (however if you check Premiere is back on the Macintosh, it has been since Apple went to Intel..) and the development cycles are now sync’ed for both platforms (I remember when the Macintosh software came out about 6 months before the Windows software!) Acrobat LiveCycle is for the enterprise and Adobe sees no business advantage in porting to the Mac. However, Mac Acrobat users have some features that Windows users don’t like screen and window capture.

    Who Apple really kicked in the teeth here are the designers who have been with them since 1984 and before ( I started on a LISA) and they have truly wrecked the partnership with Adobe that was already on unstable ground before this.

    If I had to give up my Mac or Adobe’s Creative Suite, the Mac is out the door. I can run Adobe’s software on any high end computer,but there is NOTHING in Apple’s stable of apps with the sophistication and stability that creative professionals use every day! I can make money without Apple, I cannot make money without Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Dreamweaver, Flash, Premiere, Fireworks, AfterEffects,and Captivate.

    I’m with Adobe!

    • And what will you do when hell freezes over?

      I’m curious as to why you’re (still) using Apple products, if at all, and, if not, why do you even care about any of this?

    • I’m just tired of Apple Fanbuoys who have no idea of the history of these two companies, who have drunk the Cupertino Reality Distortion Field dry, tearing down Adobe when they certainly have not worked in the industry, nor have worked with Adobe products for any length of time or are using bit-torrented versions from Pirate’s Bay.

      I have been in high end printing and lithography for over 20 years. Adobe contributed to Apple’s early success with Postscript and Wisywig (Without Postscript, the AppleWriter would have never worked and Apple would have fallen on it’s face.)

      Also during the 90’s it seems like only graphic designers and printers were purchasing Macs, not so much that they were excellent machines (Anyone remember the Quadra? or worse the Cube?) It was that our very expensive licenses of our Adobe products were only being written for the Mac (Photoshop didn’t even ship for Windows until version 4) and until recently, Adobe didn’t offer a way to cross-grade without penalty.

      Without Adobe I cannot do my job, with the advent of OpenType and better color management tools for the PC, I can use any high end computer (even Linux running the Wine emulator) not just Apple! And more and more designers are feeling that they are not getting the support for Adobe products from Apple. Especially after the Carbon 64 vs. Cocoa 64 snafu that Apple promoted as a “snub” to OSX, after Apple engineers pulled the rug out on Adobe during the beta of CS4!

      Steve’s so called outrage about anyone slowing or hijacking Apple’s development cycle is a sham! He’s already pulled this stunt on Adobe and doesn’t see turn about as fair play.

      While Apple makes a nice box, I can live without it. I can’t however, live without Adobe products.

      I actually run both platforms both PC (Dual Intel core duos, 8 gigs of RAM with 4 TB of storage) and have a MacBookPro…and I frequently switch back and forth between plaforms depending on the client and what type of performance I need.

      Once I am inside the Adobe operating system, I could care less about Mac or Windows…

    • CShockr, you are a fool who misremebers history. As soon as someone starts talking about Reality Distortion field, you know that they don’t really have a point to there argument, or they would not need to mention it.

      Apple and Adobe helped each other in the early days. Then Adobe abandoned Apple, and put all their support to Microsoft, even releasing version for Windows before they released the Mac versions.

      But despite this, Flash is a piece of shit that needs to die a quick death. Flash, and the advertising junkies, who use it.

  4. “What this basically says is that you are ignorant of the facts and willing to believe whatever propaganda is fed to you.”

    A typical developer attitude.

    Devices do not exist for you, you exist for the customers. I am fully aware of the nature of the apps already on the store. some are fine, many are confusing. The main thing is that if flash apps are allowed, the whole thing will go worse. If apple wants to innovate in hardware, as they have been doing, it’s crucial to them that they are not held back by other companies as they have been in the past, it’s as simple as that. They have a window of opportunity here to ensure that doesn’t happen and they are grabbing it.

    So often over the years I have had replies from flash addicts to the effect of ‘you don’t like it? well, tough!’ So forgive me for feeling pleasure now that I can say the same to you.

  5. None of the top games were specifically written for your devices. They were written on multiplatform game engines like Unity, Gamebyro, and Renderware. These engines are portable C code bound to APIs like OpenGL. They were cross-compiled and patched to wireup into a minimal amount of the iPhone SDK in order to game input into the game, among other things.

    Apple users have spoken, 80% of all apps that are *paid for* are games, and a huge number of these use commercial multiplatform middleware, because game engines are laborious to develop.

    So in fact, you’ve been getting cross-compiled stuff, you just don’t realize it. You’ve been buying it, and loving it, thinking it was an original work crafted for the iPhone when in fact, it contains significant amounts of ported code.

    What this basically says is that you are ignorant of the facts and willing to believe whatever propaganda is fed to you.

    Stop with this nonsense about cross-compilation producing inferior apps. *None* of the top games from EA, Activision, Take Two, et al on the iPhone use Cocoa APIs, they bypass the iPhone OS, grab a hold of the screen, and paint all of their UI using their own UI widget toolkit sitting on top of OpenGL.

  6. app store developers have customers. They are people who have chosen apple products. We chose them for a reason, and regardless of whether you agree with those reasons, you are stuck with them. We don’t want cross-compiled stuff, we want stuff that’s written for the devices we bought.

    If you don’t want to write specifically for our devices, fine, don’t. But stop whining, please.

  7. What does this have to do with anything? First and foremost, developers have to eat, and will go where customers are. Did Google do business in China because they love the communist party and all the corruption? No, they went there because of 300 million internet users.

    Don’t confuse developer support with developer love.

    Secondly, gaming economics. Games are expensive to develop and have a small shelf life before they drop off a cliff. A typical console game, when released (18 month development time), will have a shelf life where most of sales occur in the first 60-90 days, and then it’s in the bargin bin at Walmart, except for a few standout triple-AAA titles.

    This is no different on the iPhone. As soon as your App drops off the “Featured / What’s Hot” front page, it radically loses sales. At the last Game Developer Conference I talked to many Devs who hopped from the Nintendo and Sony stores to iPhone with their downloadable content simply because revenue drops off a cliff after 2 months.

    Below the fold is a situation you don’t want to be in.

    So what’s happening is, the iPhone has become very popular for the embattled console / handheld industry, because you can resell and remilk the art assets you’ve already invested in, by re targeting them at the eye phone. In much the same way that the movie studios love reselling copies of classic movies for each new bit of media: HDDVD, BluRay, iTunes, Xbox/PS video store, etc. Got Casablanca on DVD? Ah well, buy it again on BluRay, or on a Digital Download.

    You argue from the standpoint of someone who doesn’t really know much about the subject matter and resort to scanning media to cherry pick non-sequiturs to support your argument. Again, argument by authority.

    And again, why would the fact that Nintendo considers Apple
    a threat disprove anything about the fact that Apple’s T&Cs are enforced *SELECTIVELY*. Nor does Apple’s abusive dev policies have anything to do with Nintendo’s perception. Console development isn’t much better, Nintendo censors too, and takes a big licensing cut.

    It’s like saying “Hey look, a bunch of people immigrated from North Korea to Siberia, therefore Stalin must be doing something right!”

    Let’s get something straight — no amount of cherry picking press stories, or quoting # of users or developers is going to disprove the basic fact that Apple’s enforcement of T&Cs is arbitrary, subject to change at any time, and overall, pisses off developers, who swallow their displeasure in the hopes of squeezing out a buck.

    • “What does this have to do with anything?”

      Because you keep making broad statements and accusations without the benefit of facts.

      If all the available facts and numbers do not support your angry and wishful scenarios perhaps it’s time for you to reconsider your assumptions and stop exaggerating.

      There are thousands of irrational people who still think Apple’s dying or is already dead or that its success in iPods/iPhones/etc is simply a matter of marketing hype or that customers buy from Apple because they’re brainwashed by Steve Jobs or that the App Store is some kind of gulag for developers. And so on.

      If you’re looking for perfection in Cupertino (or Mountain View, for that matter), you’re going to have to find another address.

  8. 9 out of 10 of the fanbois commenting are idiots. A huge number of the top iPhone games are straight C-engine ports that were developed first on other platforms. Another big chunk are Unity3D engine games that were written first on another platform in Microsoft/Mono C# language and *cross-compiled* to the iPhone.

    By and large, console programmers stay away from most OS services like Cocoa, and the majority of the application uses low level OpenGL to rendering the UI. Did you play GTA on the iPhone? Do you see Cocoa widgets in game?

    80% of paid-apps that make any money at all in the AppStore are games, and the vast majority of triple-A titles were developed on multiplatform game engines that do not leverage most of the iPhone OS, with the exception of basic I/O.

    In fact, a ton of games in the App Store, like Digital Chocolate’s Rollercoaster Rush, are actually Flash ports were the developers line-by-line hand-translated Flash Actionscript into Objective-C as if they were cross-compiled anyway.

    The basic problem with Apple is that you could go raise a $500,000 in investment, spend 6 months writing a game, only to have it rejected by capricious decisions, changing T&C policies retro-actively changed, censorship based on content (too sexy, too violent, satire of public figures, etc), it’s just incredibility risky NOT to pursue multiplatform.

    And if you knew anything about game industry economics, you’d know that even in ideal situations, it’s a very very tough market, so putting your eggs all in one basket it difficult to justify, which is why you see so few platform exclusives on consoles these days, as devs target all three main consoles.

    • So we’re seeing a massive exodus of (game) developers from the App Store, right?

      They are all now developing games for some other platform like BlackBerry, WP7, Symbian and Android, right?

      Because console manufacturers totally agree with you and are completely unconcerned about Apple, right?

      After all, Times never reported this, right?

      Satoru Iwata, the Nintendo president, is understood to have told his senior executives recently to regard the battle with Sony as a victory already won and to treat Apple, and its iPhone and iPad devices, as the “enemy of the future.”


  9. @CAK

    From the Urban Dictionary:

    ” Cak-Loj – a word that describes spurious logic meaning that does not make sense. The word was discovered in 1985 when someone said that they could dig to the centre of the earth and was answered with one man saying that it was cak-loj”.

    Other cross reference words are:
    “Shit”, “Bollocks” and “Cack”

    May I suggest that you add the “-Loj” to your moniker to avoid any possible confusion?

  10. Anyone still out there that doesn’t yet realize that Apple has become quite savvy about design, development, marketing and business strategy, is clearly brain-dead.

    Apple will no longer tether itself to any technology that may impede (or potentially impede) it’s innovation and growth. Apple may lose a few developers, but even the angriest of developers here know that this loss will be insignificant to Apple.

    Flash’s days are numbered… HTML5 will be the final nail in the coffin.

    • That’s right. Remember that next time you find a webpage with flash while browsing with your iPhone, and you have to mail yourself the URL to watch it in your laptop later.

    • Or just skip it, as the case may be.

      In other words, as a content provider think about 100 million (of the most engaged, affluent) of your potential customers not accessing your Flash-laden content. Pretty blue, eh?

    • You keep posting this Furi… I admire your persistence I guess.
      For myself, I have been surfing the web on my iPhone for years now and never had to do this or even felt the need.
      Each to his own. Just remember, each of us is only a single data point and it is very easy to slide into error when you extrapolate your own experience as being (surely) that of others.

  11. Seems like at least one angry flash developer buzzed in through the open window! To the assertion that “Apple have given us these 3 amazing devices (iPhone, Touch and now iPad), and given us some amazing tools as well, but is now restricting us in how we develop for it” I would like to say this:

    Apple designed those things for the users, not for you. This shows the arrogance of so many developers. That arrogance, and the lack of guts generally to stand up to it, has caused all these fake ‘cross-platform technologies’ which are really just parasitic additions to a perfectly adequate (and in the case of Apple, lean) operating system in order to save them developers effort, at the expense of the host OS and the users’ utility of their equipment.

    I think, even if only subconsciously, these lazy developers might be seeing the potential end in sight of their dreams of a write once, slop out everywhere world where all chant ‘developers, developers, developers’ in time with monkey boy.

    they think it is their right, and that consumers are there to serve them. It’s not just the retarding and obstructive middle-man products like flash and the java VM (why should I need a virtual machine when I have bought a real one already?) that are threatened here.

  12. Another great article Kontra, but it seems like you might want to close off comments altogether based on the drivel and hate mongering going on on this one.

    I’d just like to add one thing which is that I keep seeing people mentioning Unity development and then adding the tagline “In in doubt” or “may be affected” etc. to bolster the argument that we are not just talking about crappy Flash “apps” here, and it just seems totally unjustified to me.

    As I understand it, Unity outputs an Xcode project that can then be loaded into Xcode itself and published to the app store. I know Apple hasn’t explicitly stated what the status of an app created with Unity is, but it seems very unlikely to me that an app written using Unity would have any problem being accepted. I think it’s disingenuous of people to constantly lump Unity in with Flash’s tools.

    This is really about Flash’s middleware layer, and the generally craptastic nature of Flash apps and games. It’s not really much to do with serious developers using the tools they need to get to get into Apple’s submission queue. Apple is not going to ban all EA games just because they don’t want BoxerJam in the app store.

    • Ok, so you we have a guess from you, whereas even the people at Unity are concerned about this issue. David Helgason on the Unity weblog:

      “Unity learned of these changes with the rest of you just last Thursday and today, there remains a great deal of uncertainty about these changes being final and what we may need to do to comply.

      We’re meeting with Apple next week to discuss the matter, and our engineers have been discussing possible technical solutions as well.”

      And I am not just talking about two tools, Unity and CS5, I am talking about lots of tools, all the tools developers like me have used to create apps.

  13. When in Rome do as the Roman do. Americans drive on the left but not all countries do what the Americans do. In many countries traffic flows on the right. So if you think that as an American, you are always superior and right in what you do, will you ignore another country’s traffic laws? That would be tragic. In China you would be shot for your impertinence.

  14. It is laughable when you point out that Google is there to drive hardware developers to compete on price. Apple is there to exclude, compete with and kill those same hardware developers, and key software developers too, which is fine, it’s just not a check mark for Apple OS.

    Apple is not being asked to be suicidal, they are being asked to drop some eggregiously anti-competitive practices. The oft-despised Microsoft were never this evil w.r.t. anti-competitive restrictions. All this does is highlight that Apple is not just another Microsoft on the business front, they are significantly worse.

    History will look back at this debacle and see how Apple squandered it’s opportunity and platform advantage by tying their customers to deals with a single carrier and being eggregiously restrictive and capricious on software development and publication. Developers are loyal to Apple now in the same sense a galley slave is loyal to the ships captain, and Apple only has itself to blame. Keep cracking the whip Apple and see how much they can take.

    Apple is clearly afraid of competition in the mobile space, both for certain classes of device, several classes of application and for platforms, but they have taken the path of short term gain and anti-competitive practices.

    It will be entertaining to watch the outcome.

    • “Apple is not being asked to be suicidal, they are being asked to drop some eggregiously anti-competitive practices.”

      Not excluding technologies whose obvious and stated purpose is to commoditize their host platforms to the lowest common denominator status can only be described as suicidal. That’s the promise of ‘write-once-run-everywhere’ gimmicks.

      “Developers are loyal to Apple now in the same sense a galley slave is loyal to the ships captain…”

      I’ll try to assume here that you don’t know much about the history slavery, instead of being purposefully daft and obnoxious. Nobody put a gun to developers’ head to join the App Store. And nobody’s holding them in bondage there. They are all free to leave and join Adobe’s app store clone.

  15. Great article Kontra. Yes, Apple is at the top of their game – especially in the mobile space – to the point that they have very few stratgetic dependancies anymore. Great comments too.
    I think a few people have a problem with Apple for reasons they wish to conceal. I think Cak is far from too dense to see that Apple’s self interest is manifesting itself by promoting and strenghtening it’s brand, it’s products and most importantly it’s platforms. For Apple’s mobile products this has resulted in a very, very desirable platform to develop for. Cak knows at least these things based on his dogged efforts to at once both ignore and to also argue against, to the point that he/she cannot even admit to these as mere possibilities. The only mystery is why.
    Apple is basically forcing any developers that are not writing their Apps natively to begin doing so and at the same time this exposes all the new  and old API’s for use. No need to wait for say, Adobe to update their xplatform tools to allow access for the developer. This is middleware not controlled by Apple and the reason for prohibiting. Its simply not in Apple’s best interests to allow this and indirectly not in a developers best interests either assuming the health of the platform matters. As a bonus perhaps or simply collateral damage, Adobe finds itself looking through a fence at one of the biggest, greenest backyards in silicone valley. And yes, its quite closed unless you are invited and even then there’s rules your host will ask you to respect.  Its almost a no brainer that Cak knows all this too but its just that none of it resonates for reasons we can only guess. Or, maybe Cak is just disagreeable and frequents places like this for no apparent reason.  

    To Eric Gen and others – thanks for your perspectives. I like the ironies in many of them.

    Sent from my iPhone

  16. Apple is a hardware company in times of a commodity hardware, of course it has to make it hard to write programs that doesn’t care where they run.

    If they will fail – their hardware will become interchangeable with others and their margins will shrink.

    But to say it is in interest of the clients – that’s bullshit.

    • Meanwhile, the reality:

      Apple has the best-selling desktops (iMacs) and notebooks (MacBooks) in the market. They utterly dominate >$1000 market. They have the highest margins of anyone. Yet they have no restrictions on these at all. You can write in Flash and any number of other languages/frameworks/runtimes/etc and port to and from Macs. Yet the Mac ecosystems is thriving and gaining market share along with the industry’s most compelling user satisfaction story.

    • The Mac ecosystem is thriving but it could be much better if developers more quickly took advantage of new apple tech. Adobes CS products do not take full advantage of the platform and part of that is because it is a multiplatform product.

    • As an iPhone and iPad user myself, Apple’s decision couldn’t be more inline with my interests.

      I want a high barrier to entry for developers. I want developers who have a passion for the platform and are focused on what makes the iPhone/iPad ecosystem unique. Not only do I want a walled garden, I want snipers atop the walls.

      I don’t want developers looking for shortcuts to get on the iPhone.

      I firmly believe that attitude will create the most customer satisfaction with the product. Maybe both Apple and myself are wrong and we’ll lose in the market, that’s an adult, informed, business decision I can abide.

      (and, actually, polemics aside, I’m fine with developers looking for the easiest way on the iPhone OS with no restrictions whatsoever – it’s called a web application.)

    • Very nice. Remember that next time you find a webpage with flash while browsing with your iPhone, and you have to mail yourself the URL to watch it in your laptop later. ***Priceless user experience***

  17. Interesting how when Adobe discontinued their Premier video editing software for the Mac we were told “it’s a business decision” and no Apple employees suffering from arrested development published embarrassing nerd-rage diatribes. I don’t remember an Apple lawsuit either.

    Yet Apple makes a wise business decision with their users interests foremost in their minds and all of a sudden “cross-platform development” is the cause celebre for a bunch of people who don’t even code?!

    Seems terribly… convenient (for those with an axe to grind against Apple, that is)

  18. Jean-Louis Gassée said it best in his website (

    Who, in his right mind, expects Steve Jobs to let Adobe (and other) cross-platform application development tools control his (I mean the iPhone OS) future? Cross-platform tools dangle the old “write once, run everywhere” promise. But, by being cross-platform, they don’t use, they erase “uncommon” features. To Apple, this is anathema as it wants apps developers to use, to promote its differentiation. It’s that simple. Losing differentiation is death by low margins. It’s that simple. It’s business. Apple is right to keep control of its platform’s future.

  19. I keep a log that I have not published as yet. I find that we are often on the same page – particularly in this case with respect to Apple’s determination to avoid the commoditization that Microsoft has foistered upon its “partners” (if “Laptop Hunters” was not an exercise in commoditization, I don’t know what is).

    And Kontra, this “cak” character has truly demostrated that the subtleties of the business Apple has built for itself are lost on him, and yet you patiently tried to explain it.

    • “(if “Laptop Hunters” was not an exercise in commoditization, I don’t know what is)”

      WTF does that even mean? Nothing that is what. Yes, MS has followed a different path to Apple, but are you suggesting that Apple are going to get even more rigid? Perhaps you would be happy if they banned all other languages from Mac OS X as well? Well, it probably wouldn’t affect you, you have the rabid fanboy writings of someone who has never actually created anything in their life. Why don’t you try to explain these subtleties, I thought I did have a grasp on what makes Apple unique? Or does that include never questioning anything they do? Don’t worry, I won’t tell them you what you said.

    • No, it means plenty. You just don’t get it.

      Every year Microsoft’s hardware partners struggle to move huge numbers of units to generate profits because the margins are razor thin and shrinking.

      Apple, with it’s tiny marketshare makes far, far more profit than any of MS’ hardware partners.

      And how does Microsoft respond? With a laptop hunters ad campaign that says very clearly to consumers, “Hey! Just buy whatever is cheapest! That’s what matters, right? It’s all just Windows anyway!”

      His point was clear: Microsoft is perfectly happy to commoditized their hardware partners right out of business (as they have done twice already with MITS and IBM) just as long as their margins remain fat.

  20. Kontra, you say above that the reason this makes business sense is because :
    ” Having an intermediary layer that by definition guarantees multiple platform parity and thus lowest common denominator user experience as well as myriad technical platform maintenance problems is more than cause enough to reject Flash. ”

    But even Steve Job’s linked to a post on HackerNews where someone explained that it’s about maintaining exclusivity for IPhone apps – so that the base of iPhone apps doesn’t become easily available on other platforms.

    That is to say, its about hurting developer interests (ability to distribute across multiple platforms, ability to leverage existing skills) in order to further’s Apple interests (exclusivity advantage). Of *course* developer’s are going to be pissed off. The calculation that Apple is making is that average developer loss of value (LV) in developing for iPhone (with these new rules) + amount by which they are pissed off (A) is less than perceived (PV) value the developer can gain from taking the time to develop in Objective C. That is, that PV – LV – A > 0.

    My calculation is that if I can increase the general amount of pissed offedness at Apples underhanded, selfish move here it will improve the way that folks like Apple treat deevelopers in future.

    • it’s about maintaining exclusivity for IPhone apps – so that the base of iPhone apps doesn’t become easily available on other platforms.

      That isn’t quite right.

      Apple would have no problem if you wrote an app for the iPhone and then also made it available on another platform without any Apple IP carryover in whatever language or framework you want.

      What Apple rejects is the notion that you write an app on another platform, say in Flash, and port it to the iPhone and expect it to work. Why? because Apple has had a decade of hell wherein it couldn’t innovate fast enough and couldn’t even transition to another OS or CPU architecture in a timely manner because ISVs like Adobe, Microsoft, Avid, Quark, etc., couldn’t be bothered with Apple-specific support. They tried to slow down Apple to Wintel level of ineptitude and commoditization, to guard their own interests.

      Why should Apple’s innovation curve and platform maintenance costs be indexed to some 3rd party like Adobe that has repeatedly treated Apple customers with apathy and disdain over a decade? Can Flash developers create native content for, for example, Microsoft or Sony game boxes? Where’s the outrage?

      If Flash developers need to vent off at all they should look no further than Adobe that has been telling them that they can use CS5 to create apps for the iPhone when it damn well knew that’s not what Apple wished or would allow.

    • Thank you Kontra.

      Your sagacious observations should be declared as significantly important and hence conspicuously displayed across the “front page” of the internet and all newspapers and magazines forthwith.

      Now that you have touched on this Adobe CS5 debacle could you pen further thoughts in regard to Apple’s principle rationale behind 3.3.1

  21. Nice article.

    “A few years later, Steve Jobs took over Apple and today it’s the third most valuable company in the U.S.,”

    Please cite this. As of 2009 they were in the 70s in the U.S. Fortune 500. Giant sure, but third? Wal-mart, Chevron, Microsoft, I don’t see how they can be third.

    • As of closing this past Friday:

      The top five U.S. publicly-traded companies:
      1. Exxon Mobil (XOM) – $324.63B
      2. Microsoft (MSFT) – $266.10B
      3. Apple (AAPL) – $219.25B
      4. Wal-Mart (WMT) – $207.01B
      5. Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA) – $199.66B

    • Thanks!

      News to me. (Fortune 500 orders by revenue, whereas this is by market cap, but yes you are correct).

  22. @Mitch Stone

    I’m not disagreeing with you. But, I think “making and selling the complete product”, while essential, is still only part of what makes them successful. By constraining the total number of different products that they sell, and also the number of permutations of those products, Apple’s upper management is able to be consciously aware of every product that Apple sells.

    This actual daily knowledge of their products brings an awareness in upper management that few companies of any size, and no companies approaching their size have. If they take an action in any product, it is usually released in one product or product line where its effectiveness in the market is tested.

    If it’s a success, it’s relatively easy to roll it out into the other product lines and thereby accomplish substantial economies of scale. If it’s a flop, they only risk the product that they tried it on. Again, if it’s a success, they win across their entire product line.

    Often the market, and their competitors, do not understand that this is happening. The MacBook Air is a perfect example of this. The pundits and Apple’s competitors all went, “Oh look! They’ve made a crippled, expensive, lightweight notebook.”, without really noticing that one of the key things that happened was the test flight of the unibody aluminum frame.

    Once Apple was happy with the results, the MackBook Pro line suddenly came with aluminum unibodies and everyone else’s notebooks suddenly felt like flimsy plastic garbage. Without missing a beat, the iPad arrives with an aluminum unibody frame that makes every other tablet look and feel like garbage. They even were able to leverage the design into a unibody plastic frame on the less expensive MacBook.

    They tested the entire concept on a new product but won across much of their product line, all without anyone really noticing. These sorts of things tend not to happen accidentally. Upper management’s knowledge of the entire product line, due to its relatively small size, is essential to things like this. But, as you say, it also wouldn’t happen if they didn’t design, build, and sell the entire enchilada.

    • I agree completely.

      Look at trackpad in their macbookspro experiment and you will see them testing a big touch screen way before the ipad.

      Everything Apple do is a test. it takes a lot of work to design the production of aluminum mechanized computers, but they started with the mac pro, and have a lot of years of experience. Same with screen scratching when you touch it, and don’t cover it.

      Having bought an imac, looking at laptops in the the store they look like “fake”. Anyone that wants to copy them needs to spend a lot of money in new factories and they don’t know if they will recoup the inversion.

      As an App store dev myself, I would love competition on the App store market, but they are not more open than apple(Android forces you to use java, you can’t do low level programming as you can with the iphone).

  23. I don’t see why anyone is surprised by Apple’s move. This is the company that has had closed eco-systems for how long now? The company that has introduced its vision of the future through a closed device, the iPad.

    At the end of the day, this is really just about Adobe spending like $80 million on a dev platform in CS5 that all of the sudden is worth zilch. So of course they are pissed.

    So of course they called their Lawyers, etc etc. Meanwhile and people are still buying iPhones and iPads and Macs and black mock turtlenecks.

  24. “3/4 of Android users are male.”

    Anecdotal, but I’ve only seen maybe 10 Android phones in the wild, mostly owned by men. One was an acquaintance with a G1 who wanted an iPhone, but her husband “made” her get a G1. Another female G1 friend was a long time Sidekick user and wanted something comparable.

    Two Droid owning friends are male, “bro dude” types that wear Oakleys and are into cars. This fits Droid’s mechanized, sci-fi, macho, “features and specs” marketing.

    I always ask to play with Droid owning friends’ phones, asking about their apps and usage. They usually have very few apps installed and don’t really do much beyond basic text/email, web surfing, photos, and Twitter/Facebook.

    When a group of us get together, the iPhone people are constantly engaging with iPhone, taking pictures, Twittering, and most important, demoing apps to each other: “Show me your apps, which are your favorites?”

    A side product of the App ecosystem, this social angle is a huge advantage that iPhone competitors will be hard pressed to replicate.

  25. The other sign of the iPhone & Co. snowballing success that I believe is underreported is the number of apps being developed as add-ons to services provided by non-IT companies – insurance & diet plans are among those I’ve seen advertised in the past 24 hours. They ARE NOT developing for Android or any other mobile platform.

  26. It never fails to surprise me how poorly executives at so many technology companies understand the lessons of the recent past. They continue to try to recreate Microsoft’s success with operating systems without recognizing that this was, fundamentally, a historical fluke, a series of events that cannot be replicated. Palm tried it and failed. Apple tried it and failed. Even Microsoft has tried to duplicate their own success, in the mobility space, and failed. Now Google expects to succeed where nobody else has since 1982? Good luck with that, as they say. They will continue to chase that Lorelei, with predictable results.

    That said, Apple’s tightly integrated, end-to-end model will break down, some day, for reasons that probably nobody can predict today with better than guesswork odds. Still, it should be recognized that Apple’s approach is hardly unconventional — it is just very expertly executed.

    • Yes, Apple executes very well. And, as you say, it’s hardly unconventional. But, no one else seems to have the vision to simplify things to a manageable level (number of products, number of ports, …) and then the consistent discipline to maintain that simplicity.

      At each level of everything they do they consistently provide themselves with a better base to stand on (cash on hand, supplier dependencies, etc.) and limit their risks while repeatedly doing multiple things that would be “bet the company” events at other companies. Because of their preparation and because each product they make or action they take leverages each previous thing they’ve done, Apple’s risks aren’t bet the company risks.

      So far, they haven’t grown complacent. They consistently cannibalize themselves before anyone else has a chance to and they have consistently maintained their discipline. That may be hard to maintain over time because the people will change over time. But for now, their focus is nothing short of amazing.

    • The deep, dark but truly non-secret fact is, Apple is really just doing what every other consumer products company has done since the beginning of time — at least, before Microsoft’s serendipitous success with operating systems persuaded a lot of otherwise intelligent people to become credulous believers in the idea that Microsoft had reinvented everything. Make and sell complete products? That was “yesterday’s model” — now companies make the pieces and license them to others who make and sell the rest.

      The hangover from this belief is hard to lick, which is why I think we still hear criticisms of Apple’s approach, such as “walled gardens” and “closed,” as though these terms have any real meaning, relevance or import. They don’t. They are artifacts of the belief that Microsoft’s (and now Google’s) approach is more “open” and therefore more consumer-friendly, and more likely to succeed. These arguments are predicated on the idea that Microsoft’s success in operating systems was not a historical accident. False premises don’t often result in correct conclusions.

      Apple hasn’t grown complacent, not yet. But I am always on the lookout for changes in herd direction. Apple has been able to lead and direct the herd with remarkable skill over the last ten years, but as Apple grows larger and more omnipresent, I’d expect some portion of the herd to cut in another direction. This will present Apple with some major challenges because they are no longer a small company with a narrow target market.

      In the past, Apple’s risks have often bet-the-company risks. It will become steadily more difficult for them to take these long gambles, or to make them pay off. The next few years will be very interesting.

    • Mitch, wonder no more!
      Look up Dunning–Kruger effect effect on wikipedia.
      a cognitive bias in which “people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it”.

      Basically, they find that the ability to accurately judge your competency in something depends on your competency in it. If you’re bad at something, you’re unlikely to know just how bad, or even that you are bad. A good illustration they give is that “skills that enable one to construct a grammatical sentence are the same skills necessary to recognize a grammatical sentence, and thus are the same skills necessary to determine if a grammatical mistake has been made”.

    • “They continue to try to recreate Microsoft’s success with operating systems without recognizing that this was, fundamentally, a historical fluke, a series of events that cannot be replicated.”

      Praise Jebus!

      The number of people who thinks Microsoft’s success was planned or that their business model was “open” is hysterical to me!

      As you astutely intimate, the hardware makers in Microsoft’s early dealings (MITS and IBM predominantly), simply did not realize what parts of the fledgling PC industry were actually important and valuable in the long run. Frankly, I’m not even sure Microsoft did themselves.

      And as Larry Ellison has pointed out, IBM simply gave away a third of it’s business to MS and a third to Intel. Barring IBM’s fundamental lack of understanding of their own product, MS would be a fraction of it’s current size peddling Office for a small profit at best.

      The number of even tech folks who believe that Microsoft pioneered some open model that can be replicated is idiotic.

      IBM threw it all in the air and Gates wisely caught it. Apple clearly has no intentions to sell the farm with the mobile space and it’s made the guys who sit back writing software and never invest the years and billions necessary to create a hardware platform very, very angry.

      “But IBM gave it all away! Dell is perfectly happy to scrape out pennies on hardware while MS and bathes in cash! Apple is cheating!”

      Tough canolis, kid. Steve Jobs is not Frank Cary and Apple ain’t IBM.

  27. In the 90s Apple was almost completely at the mercy of MicroSoft, Adobe, Avid and even CompUSA, Sears and Circuit City. But Apple learned their lesson and in the last 15 years has strategically built software and services to break any strategic dependencies. That’s why we have Safari, iWork, iLife, Aperture, Apple retail, iTunes, Final Cut, iCal and the App store. Those companies still add value to the Apple ecosystem but they do not have a strategic chokehold on any aspect of the ecosystem.

    And that’s why, when companies like Palm, promote a product using anther company’s software (without permission, no less) as a product feature, I can only shake my head. Or when HP touts their upcoming slate as being “great” because it has Flash and Windows 7–i.e. they are totally dependent on the quality of other’s products for the success of their device–I can only shake my head.

    Apple is simply making sure they are not dependent on anyone else for for a strategic part of their ecosystem, so they have created their own dogfood, or used open source/open standards dogfood. I don’t know why that is so hard for many people to understand. Any company that doesn’t try to follow that same strategy is just shortsighted.

  28. Another great article, Contra. You raise a very interesting point: if not the App Store, then where? A few disgruntled developers can go elsewhere, but that’s not where the action is.

    You have to give Jobs credit for the “experience” factor he wants to present to users. That means closing some doors and ruffling some feathers. But to Jobs it’s all about the experience for the customer. That’s the focus. Other hardware vendors can’t control that, and the software people can’t control the hardware. I have an iPhone and I couldn’t care less what Jobs decides.

  29. As I commented over at Roughly Drafted, there’s a logical inconsistency in Adobe’s attack. Adobe claims Apple is slapping Apple’s developers in the face. However, Apple’s developers are already using the iPhone OS SDK since the SDK is how you get apps onto an iPhone OS platform. Flash has never been supported (though there are apparently a few transcoded Flash apps already in the store – South Park?). Since Apple’s developers are already using the SDK, this change will have little effect on them and therefore couldn’t possibly be a “slap in the face”.

    The main people being slapped in the face are the Flash developers who hoped to casually port their Flash apps onto the iPhone OS platform without ever bothering to learn and properly develop for the iPhone OS platform. I don’t see how Apple can be faulted for wanting apps in the iPhone ecosystem to be developed for and take advantage of the complete feature set of the ecosystem without being arbitrarily limited by some other tool set.

    Perhaps this is a poor analogy, but what Adobe seems to want (and, yes, I have a sense of why they want this) would be like a person arriving at some arbitrary country’s border and saying, “I want to be a citizen of your country with all of the associated benefits. I know almost nothing of your country’s laws and customs but I’ve learned to be a generic citizen of another country with generic laws and that ought to be close enough. I see no reason I should be required to learn the laws and customs of your country. Now let me in!”.

    • You are wrong, a lot of Apple developers use other frameworks, for example EA make a lot of use of Lua, which is now banned according to those changes. There are other frameworks, like Unity3d, PhoneGAP, etc… which are already used by 100 of Apps, some of them very popular, that this change now brings into question.

      Sure, you might say it is unlikely Apple will ban these developers, but are you willing to bet $100,000 on it? Your business? Your house? This is the problem.

    • Clearly, you’re not a developer either, since you don’t understand the difference between a framework and private APIs or “intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tools.” 3.3.1 does not prohibit developers from writing their own frameworks (which are basically just libraries with specific behaviors) or using frameworks written by others as long as they don’t call any private Apple APIs and are written in Obj-C, C or C++.

      Apple is not saying that you can’t write your own software or use other people’s code, just as long as its using the rules. Otherwise, projects like 320 wouldn’t exist.

    • Apple is not obligated to modify its business model to guarantee your lifestyle.

      Business is, and always has been, a gamble.

    • Steven, thanks you for offering up one of the more idiotic statements I have ever read. I am going to believe that you are 12 yo, anything else suggests you might actually be mentally challenged, and I wouldn’t want to make fun of people for that.

      Yes, correct, business can be a gamble, but why make it harder that it has to be. I just don’t see the sense in why Apple is doing this, and I have read a lot about it, even Gruber has tried to justify this. This does not affect me, I stick to Objective-c, but can completely understand the frustration a lot of other developers are feeling.

    • Part of the reason, I believe, is that if Flash cross-compiled apps are allowed in they will most certainly be generated for multiple phones (Android, BB, WP7, etc). That is strike 1 since it doesn’t differentiate the iPhone or motivate developers to focus on the iPhone vs. other phones.

      The second reason, though, is a little less immediate. Suppose that lots of flash apps get built and that there are a lot of them that are good and popular. If and when a new iPhone and OS are released it will be incumbent on Apple to make sure the Flash cross compiled apps are compatible – both to keep popular apps available and to keep up with Android et al. That gives Adobe a LOT of leverage and power, opens up more people that need to know the advance plans, etc. etc.

  30. Hey Contra,

    Nice piece as always. I seldom see this kind of clear thinking at this time around the web. Interesting how a lot of people who call them selves “professionals” at this time feel compelled to bash Apple.

    I am serious wondering why there is this much agrasion towards Apple, – are Google, MS, Adobe etc. rely that scared?…

    Is it rely possible that there is no orchestrating in the momentum of hate-feelings from the blog “society /professionals and amateur evangelists”?
    It has been seen before that this kind of “bad PR” is not just self-accumulated – but in some degree “sponsored”. (Sorry for no referral).

    Thanks for the data regarding Apples pipelines as iPod user-groups percentages vs. Android etc. – put into content, rendering insights showing some of the strategic decisionmaking behind Apples thinking.
    And not only focusing on a biased “output” which we certently see enough of at this point.

    Interesting it is however, where it will lead. I mean, seems to me that the bashers at some point over time will wear thin, or at least as You pointed it out, “normal” people (not IT Professionals) dont care about the bashing, they care about getting a product/service package that delivers.
    – So will it just die out slowly, or will the – at this time “Appel-wannabe-nemesis” – three evils GOOG/ADBE/MSFT and/or their apostle find other fronts to strike on? Surely things are not getting more friendly any time soon.

    Regards Henrik

    • Wow, what a explosion of ignorant thoughts, thanks for your rant.

      There is a lot of anger at Apple, because of the changes they made to their SDK limited what programming languages can be used to develop application for the iPhone platform. NEVER before has this happened, has someone told us developers what language we HAVE to write in. You are clearly not a developer, but it is like asking designers to only used Blue Crayons for all their work from now on. And there is no good reason for it, there are already lots of rubbish apps in the app store.

      Now, Google and Microsoft may want to get in on the iPhone game, but in no way is Adobe an Apple wannabe. That sort of stupid statement makes me think you are so disconnected from reality you might actually be a danger to small animals(Just kidding!).

      A lot of frustration is coming from the fact that Apple have given us these 3 amazing devices (iPhone, Touch and now iPad), and given us some amazing tools as well, but is now restricting us in how we develop for it. Most developers just want to produce a great product, using whatever frameworks and languages are best for the job, and now Apple is stopping us. Grrr.

    • “NEVER before has this happened, has someone told us developers what language we HAVE to write in.”

      Game console makers called and would like to have a word with you.

      “And there is no good reason for it”

      There is. It’s called ‘business.’

    • I am not intimately familiar with the console development market, but even I know that they use a lot of frameworks and 3d engines. I would be surprised if console makers cared what language you develop in, as long as the final product was good. But even if it was true, that console makers were so stringent, that is not a good path to follow.

      Maybe you could explain to me how it is good for business? I can understand Apple wanted to get back at Adobe for messing them around years ago, but actually having less apps on the Appstore does not help Apples business at all. They don’t sell their dev tools.

      I expected a better response that that.

    • “I am not intimately familiar with the console development market…”

      And yet you found it appropriate to make categorical statements, in uppercase no less. Let us know when you can start coding in, say, Obj-C or Flash for gaming consoles.

      “…actually having less apps on the Appstore does not help Apples business at all.”

      You really are clueless about how Apple does business, aren’t you? Apple has removed thousands of apps from the App Store for a variety of reasons, including copyright/brand violations, porn, geo-location harvesting, access to private APIs, etc. Anything that Apple thinks will dilute its brand and cheapen the user experience it promises with its products.

      Having an intermediary layer that by definition guarantees multiple platform parity and thus lowest common denominator user experience as well as myriad technical platform maintenance problems is more than cause enough to reject Flash.

      Finally, having more of something/options is no guarantee of good business results. In fact, it’s often a recipe for confusion and failure.

    • ““I am not intimately familiar with the console development market…”

      And yet you found it appropriate to make categorical statements, in uppercase no less. Let us know when you can start coding in, say, Obj-C or Flash for gaming consoles.”

      Ok, are you? Why do you not address the rest of the sentence? Why do you ignore the bits that you can’t answer. Console development relies on 3d engines and frameworks?

      “Apple has removed thousands of apps from the App Store for a variety of reasons, including copyright/brand violations, porn, geo-location harvesting, access to private APIs, etc. Anything that Apple thinks will dilute its brand and cheapen the user experience it promises with its products.”

      Yes, this is the right way to restrict apps. Get rid of the shoddy/ bad apps. Not arguing with Apple on that one, and think they should even be more agressive.

      “Having an intermediary layer that by definition guarantees multiple platform parity and thus lowest common denominator user experience as well as myriad technical platform maintenance problems is more than cause enough to reject Flash.”

      This is only party true. There is already a huge number of crappy apps in the appstore. The tools a developer has available have little to do with the crappy apps. There are some amazing flash developers. Also, it means if a flash developer wants to get an app in the app store, they can spend more time making it better, than learning a new dev environment/language/api.

      “Finally, having more of something/options is no guarantee of good business results. In fact, it’s often a recipe for confusion and failure.”

      Well, one could argue Apple have already chosen this path, with >180,000 apps in the store. There are a myriad of ways they could improve quality, restricting tools is not one them.

      Especially when you consider that some of the biggest apps in the store, the highest ratings and the most popular, use frameworks that already violate that rule. Or maybe you have not heard of EA, since you seem to enjoy avoiding responding to to that little issue.

      Please don’t bother responding if you are going to cherry pick the easy parts of my text to respond to. Come on, get your head out of the sand.

    • i’m a coder in the games industry. all sorts of languages and tools are used to make console games. the menus for mass effect, for example, were developed in flash. i didn’t work on the game personally, and neither did my graphics specialist friend who blew my mind with that tidbit, so we may want to get some verification. i’m sure i could rustle up a citation if it were worth the effort.

      that said, at some level languages are forced on every single machine. the processor which makes the whole thing go understands some particular assembly language, and that’s it, because the ability to interpret the instructions is burned into the silicon.

      more than a level or two above assembly though, generally it’s anything goes. apple’s stance is highly unusual in this regard and i sincerely hope it’s retracted; but if not i will probably toe the line because that’s the mobile platform that is most worth targeting.

    • @cak – just one comment from a non-coder. This may seem like a small quibble but I think it’s really big: “… it is like asking designers to only use Blue Crayons for all ….” I think your metaphor is off. As a designer, I’d suggest that this looks more like telling designers they have to use Adobe CS Suite, and can’t use their favorite design tool. IE: Freehand vs Illustrator, Quark vs InDesign. Or to use your metaphor: it is like they are mandating that everyone must use Crayola crayons, not Rose Art, not chinese (lead filled) knockoffs – Crayola.

      Why do I think the metaphor matters? Apple is specifying the tools and you already own a set that you like. You don’t want to switch. Their tools aren’t exactly the same, different pros and cons, and yes there is a learning curve – but they aren’t buying the write once deploy anywhere mindset.

      You last sentence is incomplete: “Most developers just want to produce a great product, using whatever frameworks and languages are best for the job, and now Apple is stopping us. Grrr.” For that statement to be accurate you have to add “they think”. “….using whatever frameworks THEY THINK are….”.

      Other comments in this thread plumb the issue that even other programing environments with restrictions don’t restrict the entire toolkit – libraries, etc. My understanding is quite shallow here – but I can’t argue. Phil’s last graph, however, is probably exactly what Apple thinks too.

    • Brad, while you might not be a developer, you seem to grasp the problem a lot better than most of the people here. Just to expand on your reply a bit more, it is not so much that I want to use a particular framework (or design suite), it is just some are better for some tasks than others. You would not use Adobes CS Suite to build a 3d model, you would use another tool.

      For example, in creating a 3d game, most developers are not going to write a 3d game engine in XCode, they are going to use an existing product, like Unity, oolong, or one of the many other products. Some of these, like Unity, are now banned according to a strict reading of the license change.

      Thanks for actually trying to understand the problem.

    • The fate of Unity (for iPhone) is not yet decided. As far, as I know, they have a meeting with Apple next week. Lets see how that turns out before we jump to any conclusion.

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