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Adobe gives up on the iPhone

Ain't gonna work with Steve no more

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Adobe has said it won't be developing any more versions of its packager, which allowed Flash applications to be recompiled for the iPhone.

Instead Android will be its focus in the future.

Apple doesn't want Flash on the iPhone, so Adobe fitted its development platform with "Packager for iPhone" which compiles Flash apps into iPhone applications, so Apple changed the rules to say that developers must work in "Objective-C, C++ or JavaScript". Adobe was reduced to screaming abuse, threatening vague lawsuits, and now stomping off in disgust as the Flash product manager explained in a blog posting:

"We will still be shipping the ability to target the iPhone and iPad in Flash CS5. However, we are not currently planning any additional investments in that feature."

Apple really doesn't want Flash on the iPhone, and will go a long way to prevent that happening. Steve Jobs claimed that Flash was too buggy and slow for his baby, and now it seems that even applications developed in Flash, but executed natively, won't be up to scratch. So Apple is banning any such cross-compiling through changes to the iPhone developer agreement:

"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)."

That also hits cross-platform-development companies such as Titanium, whose Appcelerator can spit out applications for iPhone and Android as well as desktops, from a single set of source code. It also prevents anyone creating compilers for alternative languages.

Such things are probably collateral damage to Apple, who clearly intended the changes to hit Adobe's Flash. The success of Apple's application store owes much to the lack of Flash on the iPhone; users pay for novelty apps they'd find embedded in a web page on any other platform. But Adobe's iPhone Packager still leaves Apple in control of distribution so it's harder to understand why Cupertino is so against the idea.

Flash applications are easily ported to other platforms, so there's some logic in Apple wanting to create a homogeneous developer community who've invested in learning Objective C, making them more likely to stick with the iPhone. It seems ironic that a company so associated with graphic designers and artists should demand that applications be developed in proper languages, but perhaps there's value in that too. ®

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