Apple: Go Fuck Yourself
Ben Parr reports on a blog post by Adobe Platform Evangelist Lee Brimelow where Brimelow calls Apple to attention in fine, justifiable form.
Adobe has fired back against Apple’s recent ban on building iPhone apps via Flash. And this time, Adobe’s not pulling any of punches.
… In fact, the post was so strong that Adobe asked Brimelow to delete a segment.
However, it’s the last paragraph that is the most striking, although Brimelow makes it clear that he’s speaking as his own man, not as a representative of Adobe:
“Now let me put aside my role as an official representative of Adobe for a moment as I would look to make it clear what is going through my mind at the moment. Go screw yourself Apple.”
Brimelow’s problem with Apple is the latter’s adamant decision to keep Adobe’s Flash player out of Apple’s iPhone OS-based mobile products, the iPhone, iPod Touch and the iPad. Flash has been a bit of trouble on Apple OSX machines (not iPhone OS-based machines), being a primary culprit for program crashes.
Apple has decided to keep Flash away from their mobile devices supposedly for this reason but that’s hardly the correct narrative. Apple has a very closed development system. Much like you can’t open your own iPhone to change its dead battery (you have to mail it to Apple to get the rechargeable battery replaced once it stops charging), you can’t crack any Apple mobile devices on the software end, either. Apple makes a lot of money through their iTunes store; the more apps are purchased through their iTunes store, the more money Apple makes. That’s not a problem and is a great business model but part of Apple’s iTunes success lies in the fact that it’s the only choice.
You can easily make Flash-based applications into applications usable on the iPhone OS-based systems and virtually circumvent the iTunes store. Not only that but Apple has a tendency to ban large numbers of apps from their iTunes store even after they had been accepted and sold through the store for months. Worst of all, they keep banning sexy apps.
Instead of Apple controlling what you can do with the mini-computer you bought, shouldn’t you be allowed to do as you wish with it? You did pay for your product, did you not? This is why Brimelow is pissed off. Apple is trying to make the case that Flash causes crashes and is inherently flawed—and they’re partly correct, Flash is old technology recycled and improved but still old technology that has been used far beyond its original capability—however the fault lies mostly on Flash web developers, not Adobe itself. Software engineer Blake Callens explains:
In 2005, Adobe acquired Macromedia and with it Flash and Shockwave. One of the first things Adobe set off to do with Flash was to create a more traditional and expandable ActionScript language to run it. ActionScript 3 was released in 2006, finally making Flash a fully object oriented platform – great news for us programmers, but bad news for others.
Those others are people who call themselves Flash developers, but are mostly designers and animators possessing an absolutely minimal amount of AS2 knowledge and, usually, no AS3 skills at all. That’s fine if they’re only doing design and animation work, but few limit themselves to those tasks. Many of these folks shop themselves around as if they are fully knowledgeable on the platform, get jobs as all around developers, and wind up making many of the Flash errors that crash browsers.
To make matters worse, does Apple simply assume Flash would cause crashes on their iPhone OS, a completely different operating system than their desktop and laptop operating system, OSX? The crashes in OSX due to Flash are well known and documented (although the ire greatly misdirected) however how does Flash perform on a completely different operating system? Saying Flash is a problem in OSX and as a result will surely be a problem in iPhone OS is like saying a virus that makes humans sick will obviously make any other organism sick. That’s patently false—especially since Flash doesn’t seem to be such a big problem for computers and laptops with using the Windows and Linux operating systems.
In truth, Apple’s banishment of Adobe’s Flash is all money, money, and more money. Apple has decided to put their customers behind their desire to get the dollar bills from iTunes purchases and loves the marketing opportunities they get by saying Apple has sold so many millions of apps through their iTunes store. The greater majority of the web is still using Flash and the lack of Flash on the iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad devices limits browsing and disenfranchises not only the users but also the websites that still use Flash.
Part of Apple’s hope in denying Flash is that websites will be quick to leave Flash behind and adopt HTML5 for their web animations and applications. You can’t take HTML5 content on websites and make them apps like you can with Flash so Apple’s happy with HTML5. To be fair, HTML5 at this point is superior to the Flash player that hasn’t been updated for over a year. At the same time, Adobe is about ready to release its latest update to Flash which improves their proprietary player significantly, adding many features and improving its performance.
The problem with Apple’s hope is that the majority of the web is still access through desktops and laptops far more than through their mobile devices. To think that web developers will drop Flash, something they have been using for many years and are accustomed to—and works just fine except on Apple OSX programs!—is foolhardy at best, and very myopic and stupid at worst. Until the preponderance of web sites shift to HTML5 (and if Adobe’s new Flash update is as good as some say it is, HTML5 adoption rates may drop significantly) and away from Flash, Apple is going to make browsing for iPhone OS users very aggravating and disappointing. It can take many years for people’s favorite websites to shift away from Flash, if they ever do. A lot of the most popular websites, especially technology-based websites, have already shifted to HTML5 a
nd are perfo
rming greatly on the Apple mobile devices however they’re in the minority and will be for some time.
Brimelow is right in saying this:
This has nothing to do whatsoever with bringing the Flash player to Apple’s devices. That is a separate discussion entirely. What they are saying is that they won’t allow applications onto their marketplace solely because of what language was originally used to create them. This is a frightening move that has no rational defense other than wanting tyrannical control over developers and more importantly, wanting to use developers as pawns in their crusade against Adobe. This does not just affect Adobe but also other technologies like Unity3D.
In the mean time, Apple screws their users—and Brimelow’s final comment rings louder and more justified than any claim Apple can possibly make:
Now let me put aside my role as an official representative of Adobe for a moment as I would look to make it clear what is going through my mind at the moment. Go screw yourself Apple.