Google’s burden of Flash

Vic Gundotra spent over 15 years at Microsoft, becoming General Manager of Platform Evangelism to lock developers into that company’s proprietary APIs. In 2007 he joined Google and is now Vice President of Developer Products.

At Google his job is to get developers to support Google’s search and advertising businesses — which are anything but open or transparent — by promoting “open” technologies that lock into Google properties in somewhat opaque but forceful ways. A layer of misdirection has to be carefully laid out and Google has to be seen on the side of angels so that developers and consumers alike must not spend too much time thinking about just how un-open Google’s search and ad cashcows really are.

Things that interfere with this business model must be dealt with decisively, even if it costs billions. For example, on Microsoft driven mobile devices Bing is the likely search engine or on iPhone OS driven devices native apps are the direct conduit to information, both denying Google the ability to monetize search. Not good.

The holy fight

So Gundotra spent much of 2009 promoting the general proposition that the days of desktop software, proprietary technologies, native mobile apps and any number of development and deployment strategies that can have potentially adverse impact on Google cashcows were unholy [emp. mine]:

• Classic Gundotra evangelism from Google’s I/O 2009 developer conference:

Bet on the web…Its rate of innovation has dramatically accelerated over the past 12 months, giving rise to an open web platform that’s fundamentally more capable and more sophisticated than even a year ago. The combination of HTML 5, a vibrant developer community, and the pervasiveness of modern web browsers is delivering a programming model and an end-user experience that will surprise and delight people.

• Pitching HTML5 to Tim O’Reilly at Web 2.0 in 2009 (midway in the video) by showing how Google turned an iPhone native app via HTML5 to an Android web app:


• Gundotra’s Google I/O 2009 keynote clearly had an effect on O’Reilly:

Never underestimate the web,” says Gundotra…he goes on to tell the story of a meeting he remembers when he was VP of Platform Evangelism at Microsoft five years ago. “We believed that web apps would never rival desktop apps. There was this small company called Keyhole, which made this most fantastic geo-visualization software for Windows. This was the kind of software we always used to prove to ourselves that there were things that could never be done on the web.” A few months later, Google acquired Keyhole, and shortly thereafter released Google Maps with satellite view.

“We knew then that the web had won,” he said. “What was once thought impossible is now commonplace.”Google doesn’t want to repeat that mistake, and as a result, he said, “we’re betting big on HTML 5.

• During a panel at Mobilebeat 2009, Gundotra was unambiguous about Google’s long(er) term open vs. closed strategy:

We believe the web has won and over the next several years, the browser, for economic reasons almost, will become the platform that matters and certainly that’s where Google is investing.”

Stuff happens

That was then, this is now.

Google’s platform Android is now competing against Apple’s iPhone OS platform, currently as an underdog. It appears that Google needs a checklist of items that Apple devices don’t or won’t do to differentiate itself and solicit developers’ attention. Flash to the rescue!

So Google brings in another actor to the stage, Andy Rubin, Vice President of Engineering on Android, with a post at Adobe Featured Blogs no less:

Partnerships have been at the very heart of Android, the first truly open and comprehensive mobile platform…Google is working to enable an open ecosystem for the mobile world by creating a standard, open mobile software platform…Google is happy to be partnering with Adobe to bring the full web… [emp. mine]

Which neatly echoes what Adobe’s Mike Chambers was orchestrating the same day:

I think that the closed system that Apple is trying to create is bad for the industry, developers, and ultimately consumers, and that is not something that I want to actively promote…We are at the beginning of a significant change in the industry, and I believe that ultimately open platforms will win out over the type of closed, locked-down platform that Apple is trying to create.

Alice in Wonderland

We’ve come full circle: Google positions itself as the champion of “open web” (because it’s good for its own business), promotes HTML5 (because it’s the vehicle to get there) but comes across a formidable competitor in Apple and finds itself at a disadvantage. What to do? Why, let’s promote the very un-open and proprietary Flash, as a purely cynical competitive bludgeon against Apple. Never mind what our General Manager of Platform Evangelism Gundotra has been telling the world for the past year. Business is business.

This, of course, isn’t the first time we’ve witnessed naked displays of Google’s hypocrisy. Despite all sorts of criticism at the time, Google did go into business in China for commercial expediency, then feigned shock for having discovered there was censorship. Just like when it grafted the intrusive Google Buzz on top of the widely used Gmail without opt-in to quickly build traction even if it knew it would expose millions of users’ privacy, then blamed it first on users’ lack of understanding and subsequently on lack of external testing.

Comes a fork

Indeed, “we are at the beginning of a significant change in the industry” as Adobe’s Chambers says. And Google has a historic opportunity and responsibility (to its own incessant “open web” rhetoric) to let Flash die on its legacy vine. We do not get progress by blindly (and in Google’s case expediently) catering to legacy. That’s precisely why Apple is unique in the industry. It introduces and promotes new technologies by “killing” the old: from floppy disks to physical keyboard and stylus on mobiles…and now Flash.

This isn’t news to Google, however. It recently killed the IE 6 browser. Google knows “full web” is not the same as “open web”. Surely, there are tens of millions Microsoft IE 6 and Silverlight users on the web. A “full web” would require support for those as well as myriad other technologies. How come Google is not promoting Microsoft properties in the name of “full web”? Obviously, Adobe/Flash poses little competition to Google, unlike Apple/iPhones and iPads or Microsoft/Bing and Office.

As the most important web company on the planet, Google has been given a unique chance to display leadership: does it really want an “open web” or is it just interested in promoting a momentary “competitive” advantage against Apple? Does Google believe in what its General Manager of Platform Evangelism has been selling developers? Or are we back to “Don’t be evil, as long as it’s profitable”?

Google’s final embrace of Flash will tell.

45 thoughts on “Google’s burden of Flash

  1. “It would be like expecting a film company to produce a US movie, but not distribute it internationally, or sell DVDs after the box office closes.”

    As an Australian, I can attest that this happens regularly here. I can’t buy the TV series Dollhouse here for example, or any number of Indie US films because of the distributors not seeing a market.

  2. Well, they would certainly like a licensing deal that is not totally one sided, where Apple is indemnified for up to a maximum of $50 in damages if they do something which breaks your App and causes your customers to drop you (you have no recourse if you lose say $100k in revenue), but you have no limit to damages you could be penalized for if your App screws something up.

    Here’s the thing you don’t seem to understand. 1) many iPhone *game devs* are coming from console markets where they already maxed out their sales and are simply trying to resell / port their content to milk more money. Why? Because where do you think 100k OpenGL-knowledgeable C programmers would suddenly materialize from?

    2) Digital downloads are easier than mastering DVDs or cartridges with shelf packaging. Apple’s main innovation here (although Valve, Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo) all had it first, was to make publishing easier and somewhat automated. The major console platform publishers still have too many humans in the loop. I can’t just one-click submit a game to the XBox Marketplace.

    But you are kidding yourself if you think this is a steady state situation. Devs which have developed games for the iPhone will have an almost irrresistable urge to port them to other platforms (android, nintendo, etc) as soon as the sales cycle runs out. The vast majority of games do not recoup the costs of development in sales on the primary platform they’re developed on.

    It would be like expecting a film company to produce a US movie, but not distribute it internationally, or sell DVDs after the box office closes. Apple is trying exactly this, to lock devs onto the iPhone and prevent multi-platform, they want everything exclusive, and it just won’t work, the economics of the game industry don’t allow it.

  3. Right, like I’ve got a list of 10,000 people who signed their name and given anti-T&C quotes? Are you a sophomore in college?

    You do understand that Apple’s licensing agreement is protected by NDA and in fact, developers aren’t even supposed to discuss the terms in public, which is why most criticism of the T&C has been done anonymously. On top of that, there’s always the wrath of Jobs.

    Let’s just boil it down to logic. We don’t need to take any polls, we just need to read the fine print.

    “. Applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine, and only code written in C, C++, and Objective-C may compile and directly link against the Documented APIs (e.g., Applications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool are prohibited).”

    According to Unity3D, which produces a cross-compiler for iPhone/iPad in which you write C#, 12% of the top 25 AppStore titles are written in Unity.

    Now, my question to you in this, should Apple ban these titles? Their own rules clearly state that they won’t accept games not written in one of the approved languages. Do you think that contracts should be clear and concise? That they should be enforced fairly, justly, for all? What is a guy, who maybe writes his game in Pascal, supposed to think as his App is banned, but a flood of C# games are in the market?

    Are you just constitutionally unable to take off your blinders and see any wrong in Apple’s policies?

    Now, if you want an argument by authority, or by anecdote, I will tell you that I have personally spoken to indie iPhone developers at both GDCs in the last 2 years who are thoroughly paranoid about iPhone development and are not loving the new iPhone 4.0 SDK agreement.

    But yeah, the fact that there’s 200k devs registered clearly means, all developers love the T&C, no matter what revisions Apple makes to it. That makes perfect sense, as people who experience oppression instantly quit their job, strike, protest, leave abusive relationships, as a matter of standard practice. No one ever keeps their mouth shut in a shitty situation. Right…

    • “But yeah, the fact that there’s 200k devs registered clearly means, all developers love the T&C”

      No, it means they haven’t found anything greener on the other side.

      I’m sure your “thoroughly paranoid” developers would also like, say, 50-50 split on revenue, better placement for their apps in the store, no-$99 policy, no Mac-to-develop requirement, Flash, Silverlight, Java, JavaFX and a side order of black beans too.

    • I feel sure developers can form their own opinions and make their own decisions.

      I feel sure that consumers can form their own opinions and make their own decisions.

      I feel sure that users (as distinct from consumers?) can form their own opinions and make their own decisions.

      I feel sure that readers of this coloumn can form their own opinions and make their own decisions.

      Your style and rhetoric probably does not promote the arguments you espouse.

  4. Besmirch? You mean like you’re doing with Google and Adobe. I’m a developer, developers don’t like Apple’s T&Cs, they don’t oppressive NDAs, hilarious bug trackers that shield you from seeing other people’s reports, arbitrary AppStore enforcement policy, and so on. There is LEGITIMATE criticism of Apple’s policies towards developers. Case in point, if Apple wants to ban Flash, why not just say it, instead of writing T&C language that says you can’t write apps that where’s “originally” written in Objective-C, whilest completely ignoring the fact that some of the top games in the store which help sell phones are actually “originally written” in C# and cross-compiled.

    It is a double standard, it introduces needless uncertainty into the development process. Factual and totally legitimate target.

    The somewhat strange human powered porn filter, which bans satirical works of art, but allows lingerie apps, is just icing on the cake.

    If I’m besmirching anyone, it’s this blog and commenters, who don’t seem to have a clue (except for Cak) of what’s really going on.

    • “developers don’t like Apple’s T&Cs”

      I asked you to cite at least 10,000th of the 200,000 App Store developers who are objecting before you make absurd (and yes besmirching) remarks. I can’t respond to your imaginary scenarios.

  5. There’s a dangerous set of wrongheaded assumptions in this article and associated comments, which is that to be open, means to deny the proprietary. This is the Richard Stallman vision of ‘free software’, that “freedom = removing choice = force”. Thus, die hard Linux fans not only assert that things should be open source, but that you shouldn’t even create Linux distributions that contain *ANY* proprietary code.

    But openness means CHOICE above all else. It means surrendering centralized platform control. To simultaneously claim you support a vision of openness, but allow implement both HTML5 and Flash is perfectly consistent — freedom to view whatever content you want, not what’s “approved” by some Jobsnian Polutburo.

    And that’s the central problem I have with Apple, and not Google. I love Apple’s industrial design, but hate their attitude. I do not need Jobs to filter content for me and deliver me “freedom from porn” as it puts it. I do not want to live in a walled garden, a potemkin village, a Disneyland ESCOT-Ozzie-and-Harriet world of perfect cleanliness and order, as ruled by Jobs tastes.

    I want the messiness of the web. That’s true openness. Not forcing one technology to win over another, but by putting choices out there, and letting the market decide.

    As for Steve Job’s BS about not using Flash. Every one of his reasons apply equally to Objective-C. A terrible language, un-garbage collected on the iPhone, App Store full of crashy apps with memory leaks. Meanwhile, Jobs looks the other way as Unity-based games dominate, which are written in arch-rival Microsoft’s C# language running on MonoVM. So much for fairness and consistency in applying the AppStore’s terms and conditions.

    • “I want the messiness of the web.”

      Great for you.

      100 million people think otherwise and are happy with their Apple mobile devices. And perhaps need no lecture from you about Politburos, Disneyland and attitude. Have you ever considered that? Do you have a problem with their choice?

    • Flawed argument by authority on so many grounds:
      1) Apple still is a small minority in the 2 billion device market. I see your 100 million, and raise you the other 1.9 billion who decided not to buy an Apple device. Does that mean non-iPhone purchases are buying because they protest censorship? See next point:

      2) Implication that people specifically purpose iPhones because censorship is the buyer’s motivation. That’s like saying Digital Rights Management is the primary motivation behind DVD and BluRay player purchases.

      No one has yet conducted a study on what motivates these purchases. In all likelihood, it’s a simple network effect. Critical mass market, draws critical mass of content developers, which feeds into consumer demand. Which was long the justification for why you had to own Windows, because that’s where most of the software was.

      Does that mean the huge numbers of people who want PCs were choosing the ‘messiness’ of Microsoft’s platform where MS had no ability to veto what content was sold on store shelves?

      You are drawing conclusions on what is obviously blind product loyalty. My problem is not with their choice. I’m an atheist and I don’t have a problem with people going to church either, be it Christians or Jobs worshippers.

      What I have a problem with is the ludicrous arguments you’ve presented.

    • So, when cornered, you claim “No one has yet conducted a study on what motivates these purchases” meaning you have no idea why people buy or don’t buy Apple devices, but you have zero compaction about besmirching a company with a litany of derogatory labels? And you want me to take you seriously?

  6. If I had reservations about the average Joe understanding a complex situation fraught with misinformation it was greatly relieved by Steve Jobs ‘Thoughts on Flash’ open letter. I hope I don’t get creamed for using the O word just now. Adobe’s weak response and Google’s inaudiabe mumblings point to an air tight case by Steve for Apple not using flash. Google shouldn’t either now that the differentiation there were looking for is pretty much revealed to be idiotic to everyone who cares. We’ll see.

    Sent from my iPhone

  7. How about this: consumers should be the ones who get to choose the technologies they want to use, and companies like Apple Microsoft and Google should not be using their dominant market positions to attack and undermine their competitors.

    If Google decided tomorrow to stop indexing all Microsoft Windows related content because their products have a lot of security and performance issues, would you be similarly supportive?

    • James- if you has a ship loaded with consumers and each has a steering wheel that could influence the rudder the ship would go no-where because of all the conflicting input. If anything ever did align, without at least a lookout the ship will eventually run aground. You need a Captain, even if it’s Kevin Lynch – every ship needs a Captain.

  8. I find it interesting that when people were promoting Linux as an “open” alternative to Windows and Mac OS, they were shot down because it was not “practical” (too much legacy non linux software out there). Now, these same people (Apple+Microsoft) are claiming that “open” really means an outright ban on software that is, right now, in heavy use by a huge number of people world wide.

    How about we agree on one thing: consumers should be the ones who get to choose the technologies they want to use, and companies like Apple and Microsoft should not be using their dominant market positions to attack and undermine the work of their competitors.

    • Maybe I’m mistaken, but I haven’t heard anybody say that Google needs to ban all proprietary software. However, if they’re going to preach how they’re the champions of open standards and what not and then work to promote a very unopen standard, then they are hypocrites. If Apple were to preach on how open is always better and how they are the masters of openness, people would call them out too.
      As for consumers, if the iPhone’s success proves anything, it’s that they don’t care about “technologies.” They just want the stuff they use to work well. They’re even willing to accept some sacrifice if it works incredibly well without any tinkering. As Windows vs Linux has proven, people prefer something that works well, relatively speaking, to something that has 40 different MP3 players, even if the latter is free as in speech and beer.

  9. The more interesting, and revealing move to wait and see is whether Google will allow Silverlight to run on Android or Chrome OS, what reason it may give for its stand, and in the long run, what proprietary plugins
    will do to those Google platforms. These are the watershed moments for
    a company. Microsoft’s free browser won its battle with Netscape, but
    IMO the integration of IE into every MS software became its eventual
    weakness, or burden, to paraphase Contra.

    People can debate about definitions to words all they want and never
    reach satisfaction. What Apple products and platforms provide for
    users and developers is Clarity, something lost to a lot of tech
    companies and gurus and advocates in all the rhetoric. Apple is clear
    about what it does – keep creating new products that people want to
    pay for, and sell tons of them to gain customer base and fund new cultural changing innovations. Meanwhile Google is clearly already matured into the MS-style copying phase in most of its product development.

  10. So Vic Gundotra is a brilliant lockdown specialist whose current focus is, but not limited to, google search. His objective is to capture developers and users alike into a platform so closed that they would never see the light of a non-google day again. iPhone in-app ad’s are bad and Google and Gundotra will go to whatever lengths necessary to destroy or malign, at least until they have that threat under control – by buying admob and other such measures as needed – no matter the cost. And for the past year or so Gundotra and now Andy Rubin (with help from Adobe no less) have been working to marginalize Apple’s progress, enabled in large part via open standards and technologies, by subverting these into it’s own closed google world in such a way that ‘Open’ backfires for anyone else; especially Apple. Because there is actually nothing wrong with Apple’s business model (in fact it is enviable) one of the great lengths Google must go to is; using an ‘up is down – black is white’ method, publicly persuade developers and end users that Apple is closed and hostile while portraying google as open and harmless. This of course requires a carefull but extensive redefinition by Google of the term “Open” in the context of systems and platforms in a way that simultaneously obscures their real objective while helping acheive it, which if we need to be reminded has all along been a locked down closed Google utopia. All true of course but really hard for the average Joe to understand much less believe. My apologies, I realize it’s a bit late in the ‘Comments Cycle’ of this article (I doubt many will read what I am writing at this point, most having moved on and all). But I had to read your article a few times to really get it and then think for quite a while longer. At first I (and maybe a few other readers) thought you were inferring this Gundotra fella was being ignored by Google. But I see now that you are actually explaining how, amoung other things, he is part of the Up is Down method. There is ample evidence for all this provided just in your article, there’s actually plenty more, but it smacks of ‘Conspirisy Theory’. And I have to remind myself to do reality checks along the way… quite often.  But it only gets worse. I am reading that Google has an insider track to the Obama’s Tech policy advisers and has helped European legislators write laws governing Internet access. And in what appears to be a more and more devious way is also trying to re-write copyright law accross the globe. The catch-all internet blog site ‘The Register’ has long ago nicknammed Google ‘The Chocolate Factory’ and it’s making sense now.  At this point I’m in way over my head. If I wake up one day to find that the only way to find the Internet, my news, my books, and pretty much everything else is with the generous helping hand of Google, I’ll probably believe I’m lucky to have such a large and powerful friend and likewise believe I’ve never been happier. And that freedom and chioce as brought to us by Google were all we ever really needed.

    Sent from my iPhone

  11. Wow, the mere mention of Apple’s name nowadays sends the shivers through the pants of the Windoze and Android camps. They tremble, curse, holler, supplicate and call out to heaven for cover; and to prevent the march of the Apple juggernaut. Incredible how the phoenix has arisen from the ashes of defeat just 10 years ago.

  12. One thing Google should be forced to answer is if
    iPhone is close and apps are taking away from open Web
    then Why is Google copying iPhone with Android.
    Instead it should just a SuperPhone with web browser just Chrome OS.
    Why not just go with Web and Web Search instead of proprietary
    Why is Google continue to create Apps that bypass the web
    after all web is open and HTML5 can do everything for you.

    • Obviously, there is a difference between Apple and Google. When Apple does it it’s “walled garden”. When Google does it, well, it’s choice, freedom, openness, you know, the full web experience.

  13. Imagine Google had taken the opposite approach and blocked flash on Android. That wouldn’t be very open would it?

    Why wouldn’t it? Since when is blocking a closed/proprietary tool considered an aggression on openness?

    Google is going out of its way to promote Flash, to the point of having its head of Android group write a blog post (see above) at Adobe’s site peddling its virtues by butchering the meaning of ‘open’ and ‘full’ web.

    • Openness (at least to me) means giving those that use and build on your platform the freedom to do what they want, including things you don’t agree with.

      Hint: if you have to ask permission, then it’s not open.

      I’m not defending Google’s promotion of flash here. But if Google tried to block flash then it wouldn’t be open either. AT&T’s upcoming Android phones which have Yahoo instead of Google demonstrate Android’s openness and lack of Google lock-in.

    • “Hint: if you have to ask permission, then it’s not open.”

      Here’s another hint for you: Let’s start at the very beginning. Try using the word “Android” in your product and watch Google’s lawyers give you a definition of “open”.

    • This post exemplifies the real problem. Some developers think that computer systems are built for them. Apple’s point of view is they’re not. They’re built for endusers. By your definition Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines made even the earliest Macs “not open”.

      I don’t live in a world of programmers. And in the world I do live in (photography) people are switching to Macs in droves just as designers of all stripes did before them. Why? Because they’re easier to use, they get their work done quicker and there is less messing about just to keep the system in good nick. Why? Because of things like Apple’s HIG and the consistency that doesn’t exist in Windows and Adobe Air.

      As an end user I’m relieved that Apple only makes systems which are by this definition “closed”.

      Creative people in the arts will always tell you that there is no such thing as pure freedom. Everything starts with limitations and its those very limitations that force the creative person to create. If you can’t create an exciting and usable app for the iPad because it has no flash then perhaps you (generically speaking) need to turn your focus elsewhere.

    • ‘Here’s another hint for you: Let’s start at the very beginning. Try using the word “Android” in your product and watch Google’s lawyers give you a definition of “open”.’

      This is nothing unusual. Linux, Firefox, etc, are all trademarked. If you want to fork Android, just call your version “RobotOS” or whatever.

    • By that definition, Windows and OS X are “open.” Heck, even the iPhone is open: it can be jailbroken, and Apple hasn’t bricked phones that are jailbroken; they haven’t even bricked that phone on which somebody installed Android, which means that the iPhone is altogether a truly open device.

      Google doesn’t have to block Flash or join forces with it; as you wrote earlier, they can act completely neutral to it: Adobe would be allowed to write whatever code they want for the system, while Google can still promote open standards that do not perpetuate proprietary solutions. That’s what’s done on Linux: Flash is on Linux, but Linus and company aren’t partnered with Adobe or anything. Of course, to them, the O word means something more than just a buzzword meant to fool the naive into actually thinking Google cares about anything besides Google.

    • “they [Google] can act neutral to it”

      And there in lies the problem. Google wants to differentiate itself and have a one-up that Apple doesn’t. Selling Android phones requires marketing, feature points, and items that would make a potential buyer purchase Android over Apple/Palm/BB etc. And at the moment, the major differentiator that they have (that the average user can understand) is Flash. Google is not going to silence its trump card here.

  14. Imagine Google had taken the opposite approach and blocked flash on Android. That wouldn’t be very open would it? You would still write a blog post about Google’s hypocrisy over openness.

    I suppose the least hypocritical move would be to neither block nor promote flash. This wouldn’t be showing the kind of leadership you are looking for though, and the end result would still be flash on Android!

    This sounds a lot like the old GPL v BSD argument. Which license is more “free”? The GPL because it only allows “free” derivatives or the BSD license which also allows “non-free” derivatives?

  15. Good insights.

    but even Google can’t save Flash. nothing can.

    and this must really bug Gundotra. in the meantime Flash worsens Android’s fragmentation/complexity issues – it’s biggest real problem. looks like the marketing guys are calling the shots at Google too.

  16. Nice article..I have witnessed this over last 3 years. Google was first to mention that native apps are just a fad and soon web apps will take over on mobile devices. It did not happen. They know they were losing ad battle on mobile and acquired Admob when they realised that most of the Ad impressions were coming from native apps and not web apps. MoreIn a way, this is good strategy from Google. Eric Schmidt, says in next 5 years mobile ad revenues will surpass PC web. If flash wins on device, Google wins too because it dominates the web. If native apps continue to win, google wins too because Admob serves 95% of the native Ads. They are hedging brilliantly..Meanwhile guys in Redmond are sleeping. I was thinking Admob should have been acquired by Microsoft. Apparently, they did not learn from their failure to acquire Macromedia (makers of flash)..

  17. Great article. Thanks, I hope it gets wide distribution.

    Despite what many believe, esp geeks, no real competing company is fully open or fully closed.

    For me, the key is that every competitor is trying to monetize and profit off of different pieces in the ecosystem/chain, and trying to commoditize/neutralize everything else. For each, the pieces that they monetize and profit off of are clearly protected and not open.

    The pieces include at least the following: hardware devices, OS, native apps, app development tools, web apps/services (such as search, ads, content stores, navigation), web development tools, cellular/broadband networks, and content creation (like music labels; TV/movie studios).

  18. Prehaps it is useful in the debate of Google, Apple and Adobe´s “statements” to clear the more or less deceiving part, by looking at what their drivers are. – Where do they make their money. Often this gives some insights in there “true agenda”.

    In that context I am sure that Adobe would consider it a win if Appel did not exist, not that they don´t like Apple, but it would make their lives much easier. And especially now that it seems that a lot of companies are following Apples lead, in declaring Flash for a “retired technology”. The momentum is building.

    Regarding the one part promoting “being open”, “not being/doing evil” etc. I came across this chart which gives a clear view and supports your analysis of what Google is about.

    As one in the comments of the chart mentions; Google is “merely” an ad-company – desperately in search of new revenue streams, also as you mentioned; strongly guarding search (AD revenue). With the iPhones in-app ads, Google is cut out. And as we have learned from Apples second quart results, Android is not destroying the app-stores momentum, – not at this time anyway.

    • You’re making the assumption here that Flash is the only thing that Adobe produces. There are plenty of other Adobe products, Photoshop/CS5 for example, that make a large chunk of money for Adobe out of the Apple ecosystem.

      That has been a big irk for me over this entire Adobe row, people make the judgement that all of Adobe hates apple because of this Flash hoo-haa. In fact, it is a very noisy few within Adobe’s Flash team that are spewing venom.

  19. I certainly agree that Google is being neither honest nor consistent in their rhetoric, but then I think it’s unreasonable to expect any corporation to behave in way which involves verity or honesty. Set that expectation aside and be a happier person, is my suggestion. The best we can hope for out of corporations is that they make useful products and don’t harm our interests along the way. Measured by that yardstick, Google sizes up perhaps a little better, even as we know they will try to baffle us with BS.

    Speaking of BS, “open” has to be one of the most abused words in the technological dictionary. It seems to be used as a synonym for “good” by those who claim their products to be “open,” even though the actual working definition of the term is almost entirely fluid.

    In the end, why should anyone really care whether a product can be called “open” — even if we could agree on what that word meant? The vast majority of products we buy are utterly proprietary, and yet we are untroubled by them. It’s worth considering that the “open” concept was born as the alternative to Microsoft’s hegemony of proprietary products — which was a problem not because Microsoft’s products are proprietary, but because of their hegemony. The advocates of openness convinced a lot of otherwise sensible people that open was the only solution to Microsoft’s domination. It was never really true, but it sure sounded nice in an idealistic sort of way.

    So now we are living with the residual of the Microsoft v. Open debate. The concept that only open could save us from domination has been laid to rest, but the term survives — with corporations trying to claim it as their own, since it still sort of sounds like a good thing. I’d have to challenge the significance of this. I say, file it under “new and improved” and “with secret ingredients” as yet another fundamentally meaningless advertising claim, and get on with the business of deciding which products actually deliver.

  20. If HTML5 is better than flash, then perhaps HTML5 should kill it on its own merits, instead of playing platform lock-in games to kill it?

    • Here’s an exercise for you:

      1. Google the date Apple killed floppy disks
      2. Google the date Dell killed floppy disks
      3. Let d = #2 – #1
      4. Name anything innovative that came out of Dell in d years: there’s your answer.
      5. Just like tending a garden, if you don’t actively cull old technology, new tech doesn’t flourish.

    • Great rethoric Kontra, as always.

      Next time you have to send the URL of a flash site to watch it in your laptop because you can’t in your iPhone, think about your contribution to technology culling. Or gardening. Or something.

    • But the whole point is that the people whose Flashed web pages can’t be seen on the iPhone right now are worried because they’ll soon be unviewable to 100 million upper middle class iPhone OS consumers. Nobody is using Flash because its great, they’re using it because there haven’t been options. The real innovation that we hear everybody decrying is happening in bedrooms and garages and cafes across the world *right now* as people figure out open solution alternatives to Flash *because Apple is forcing them to*! The transition is going to happen far more rapidly than some realise.

    • Furi, you nincompoop. Your entire contribution to this website across several posts has been this you-can’t-browse-flash-sites-on-iPhone crap. Nothing else.

      Please share with me, what fantastic phone platform you use to browse flash websites. Furi=Cak.

    • HTML5 is in the process of killing Flash, every day there’s a new release by someone doing something cool with HTML5 that used to require Flash. What you call platform lock-in games is Apple’s desire to keep Adobe from locking Apple in to Adobe’s control of their platform. And the reason for that is because Adobe has had a veto on how quickly Apple can innovate by Adobe’s slow pace of developing Flash. Parroting the party line will leave you in a cage with a lot of other dead parrotts. This argument against Apple’s so called closed anti innovation mentality has become very tiresome. Apple continues to be one of the most innovative companies on the planet. Do I need to cite examples?

    • To ts. Google and Apple teamed up early on and helped establish open standards like HTML 5 to enable themselves and anyone else to use these to compete against some of the most formidalbe companies you can imagine (one was even a monoply). Without any viable open standards widely deployed there is no alternative really Go home and pout about all those propriatory gates.
      But Apple and Google together managed to make incredible headway. HTML 5 was one of those open standards. And one of the gates it let’s one bypass is flash. So it is inconsistant for Google to side with Adobe. Except that iPhone has made both Adobe and Google miserable. And misery loves company. Ergo, the awkward couple. And the ministry of truth. And why HTML 5 could use a little help.

  21. Big companies tend to recruit people who like to work for “Big Companies”. These guys feel comfortable with leveraging the power of a big company. And when a big company is loosing market share to a new upstart company these guys simply change office and follow the money. That’s how small upstart companies eventually become “Big Companies” and loose their innovative power.

    I think naming Vic Gundotra is a great illustration of the principle.

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