Game talkThe flip side: Apple vs Flash

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Apr 082010
 

I actually knew about this while writing the other post, but it hadn’t seemed to break publicly on the Net yet. Well, now it has. There’s language in the new SDK agreement for iPhone OS 4.0 that appears to ban using any development environment or toolchain that Apple doesn’t like. Most especially, it seems aimed at preventing Adobe from marketing the flagship feature in CS5: compiling for iPhone standalone apps.

3.3.1 — Applications may only use Documented APIs in the manner prescribed by Apple and must not use or call any private APIs. 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).

CS5 launches on Monday, by the way, so this is a huge blow to Adobe.

There is already plenty of speculation as to whether this catches stuff like Unity, MonoTouch, Appcelerator (they had a blog post up about it, but it’s gone now!), and who knows what else. Basically, all cross-compilation tools, which is a large amount of the middleware out there.

This is the dark side of the last post I wrote. Epically closed means, well, epically closed. And in this case, it means creating barriers to content creation that effectively mean it costs more dollars to engage in the market. That’s what happens when you have closed-off production-and-distribution chains: smaller developers lose out.

  49 Responses to “The flip side: Apple vs Flash”

  1. Wow. WTF. It’s effectively a ban on middleware. At least, middleware on the client. Which, as you pointed out, is a LOT of middleware.

  2. Apple is declaring war on all Python, Ruby, JavaScript, Java, C#, Lua as well as Flash ActionScript developers and any other cool language you can think of that’s not Objective C.
    No problem?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stockholm_syndrome

  3. While this *is* Apple’s decsision I do think Apple would have tolerated the other tools – but they couldnt single out Adobe. Some part of the blame must fall on Adobe, they seem unable to understand that Apple does not want their Flash-runtime resource-hog on these systems. Instead of just acccepting this Adobe keeps coming back ever more ridiculous soltutions having its Flash-runtime dressed-up in various disguises. Adobe – you are not wanrted! Go home!!

  4. Edwin, JavaScript is exempt from this.

    Wilhelm, Middleware does not use Flash-runtime, and the resource hog thing is moot on an iPhone that doesn’t allow background tasks, and is only really true when flash can’t access hardware acceleration, which is Apple’s call.

    I thought Edwin was being over-dramatic with his “Stockholm syndrome” comment, but the post below makes me less sure.

    Plenty of people do want Flash-based apps. Apple has every right to lock down their store, but it’s bad for consumers and bad for developers. Apple is living off of marketing, not superior products. They are the new Microsoft.

  5. Jailbreak FTW.

  6. Queue FTC complaint. I expect the FTC to jump in on this one pretty heavily. If Microsoft did something like this, it would face DoJ and EU sanctions left and right.

  7. Jailbreak FTW.

    Actually, there’s a pending decision on whether jailbreaking can be exempted from the DMCA… EFF filed for it.

  8. no surprise.

    game developers/ 3dmedia folks left APPLE dev over a decade ago for similar treatment.

    a generation without any experience or memory ( too brainswashed by wikis and bloggers ) has given Apple confidence to work this way again.
    Even Adobe is guilty of content tie-up in on their ill fated “Web service apps” from 2008.- they ended up changing their TOS.

    Linden has now turned SL into a “open free market on visual IP copying” and is feeling the hate from visual creatives “forced” into a new TOS..-so far. And EFF endorses such “revaluation” of others property. Shame on them.

    Photogs and Illustrators have just filed suit against Google…- good for them.

    None of these companies want anything but monopolies over content creation and distribution.

    So much for any “new” media BS they newsspeak.;)

  9. To be totally clear, I am not defending Apple’s policies here. There’s a staggering amount to take issue to with respect to App Store policies. However, I do think one point is debatable: “smaller developers lose out.” I don’t think that’s true in this case. There are a TON of very small developers (eg, that 13 year old who released an app store game) who do very well using the obj-c/cocoatouch ecosystem. Apple is saying they want iPhone/iPad apps to be written using iPhone and iPad tools rather than ports from other platforms.

    Personally, I think there’s enough crap out there on the App Store that apple should just let the market decide, but saying that “small companies suffer” is not entirely true (especially if you compare to a DS or a 360 or a PS3)

  10. Linden has now turned SL into a “open free market on visual IP copying”

    The client is in the hands of the enemy. Linden Labs have apparently decided to acknowledge that fact.

  11. Xyrrus, it becomes true when you consider that almost no one can monetize successfully off of only an App Store release — especially given the “limited shelf” phenomenon which demands marketing clout. This is why being cross-platform has always made huge sense for developers. And this move effectively greatly increases costs for being cross-platform.

  12. “The client is in the hands of the enemy. Linden Labs have apparently decided to acknowledge that fact.”

    Enemy–lol WHO OPEN SOURCED the Client..lol
    This is always about money value and control.

    All LL has done is attempt to protect themselves further for a sell off and redirection of business.

    To the many who “paid” them and built their “value”- FU.

    nothing new, except the delusion that USERS GEN meant Free value.

    wont end up that way.. never does.. ask ye old south.:)

  13. cube, the point was that there’s no way at all to prevent people from copying visual data, because it has to be displayed on the client; whether the client is open source or not is kinda irrelevant.

    Linden could try to enforce a ban on copying visual data, but the difficulties involved basically make it an impossible task. They’d have to spend a tremendous amount of resources on it, and they’d still end up failing. So they capitulated.

  14. This is why I don’t like Apple.

  15. Xyrrus, small companies who have made investments into Unity3D or other tools that compiled into native iPhone apps certainly suffer. I also feel bad for those developers, who jobs are now in doubt as they have to wait to see what happens.

    Also it now becomes a lot more expensive for anyone, especially smaller companies to make an app that crosses many devices. Adobe and other companies were making tools so that there was less time to port apps to many devices. It still wouldn’t like have become write once, publish anywhere, but getting close to write once and tweak for many devices. Of course this would have made the iPhone and iPad less special if many of the apps were the same and now they have managed to put a stop to this (baring lawsuit).

  16. There are a TON of very small developers (eg, that 13 year old who released an app store game) who do very well using the obj-c/cocoatouch ecosystem.

    Apropos the 13-year-old developer: Isn’t it against the terms of Apple’s ADC for people under the age of 18 to join the program? Minors can’t agree to Apple’s NDA, which leads me to wonder how long until said developer is kicked off the program for being underage.

  17. Wow the business prospects of developing for the iPhone just keep getting better.

    I’d rather buy the top of the stock market rally, at least there it’s clear how much money you’re losing.

  18. Enemy–lol WHO OPEN SOURCED the Client..lol

    Eolirin has already pointed out the flaw in your reasoning. When online-world people say that the client is in the hands of the enemy, they are talking about you. Go ahead and bless one version of the viewer, which DRMs up visual content as much as you could possibly desire, and condemn all the others as untrustworthy. Do you have a plan for preventing those untrusted viewers accessing Second Life?

    Well, first off, you don’t, because you can’t prevent it.

    But let’s imagine you did have such a plan, and now all communication to the SL servers can only be originated from a trusted viewer. Do you have a plan for preventing the computer the viewer is running on from running a proxy, packet sniffer, or memory inspector that intercepts the data the viewer sees, so that it can capture visual data before it even gets to the trusted viewer?

    Well, second off, you don’t, because you can’t prevent that either.

    But let’s imagine you did have such a plan, and now you know that the computer the viewer is running on is completely trustworthy and it is running a completely trustworthy viewer. Do you have a plan for preventing that computer from being on the other side of a router that intercepts all the traffic that goes through it and, completely undetectably by the trust mechanisms you’ve put in place, captures all of the user’s interaction with Second Life for later decoding?

    Well, third off, you don’t. And we can do this dance for as many steps as you can imagine might work.

    The client is in the hands of the enemy. Always has been.

  19. Why people are surprised when a dictator of a closed system closes it further?

    How about developing for WebOS? Palm actually doesn’t treat their developers like steaming piles of cow shit.

  20. No! No, Apple is banning FLESH.

  21. This just goes to reinforce the notion that Apple hardware is not bought, but rented.

    Furthermore, as long as people get fooled into thinking they are buying, when in fact they are actually renting, this lunacy will continue.

    I disagree that smaller developers are losing out. Yes, the iPhone and iPod are somewhat ubiquitous, but they are not the end all. Smaller game houses need to focus on trying to reach a broad audience, and not singular niche ones, IMO. The home computer, the web enable console…these should be the focus. Too much time is being spent thinking about a segment of the market who just does not care one bit about choice. In my experience, gaming is ALL about choice. To that end, the iCrap line of products is really more just a roulette wheel. You could develop and app and hope you win the lottery and get the fortune that goes with it.

    But as anyone knows, you’re more likely to be hit by a car, than win the lottery. =)

  22. Eolirin and other robot parrots.

    its not about “technical” cants… its that LL now has taken it upon itself to, via a changed after the fact TOS, offer a LICENSE to copy and RESELL COMMERCIALLY images within its servers to any logged in user. And offer only a pay for protection(limited scheme based on renting servers space)method that dosnt allow the IP owner to enforce their rights, but another party without those rights.

    i doubt either of you have even read the new or old TOS

    copying has been around since the first images…laws are created for a reason. laws are now ignored by many who think “technology” and “PR” makes the laws- not apply to them – good luck with that pov.

    Howed that investment in Napster and Veoh go?;)

  23. Those TOS changes very likely wouldn’t hold up to legal scrutiny though, so I’m not sure what the point there was.

    They should’ve simply ignored the issue, and said if you’ve got a copyright complaint file a DMCA take down notice.

  24. Wow, that bit of the license agreement really is over the line.

    On the other hand, I’m not particularly comfortable with Flash being the one-and-only standard for game development because it gives Adobe too much power over how well my hardware works. They already make my nice quad core video editing box feel like a 7-year-old machine because the OS X version of Flash sucks. If the go-to solution for iPhone apps was “use the Flash version” then the device would be an unusable piece of crap and Apple would be at Adobe’s mercy. It’s been my experience that Adobe doesn’t care about performance, they care about ubiquity.

    They still ought to let Flash compile native apps though.

  25. Linden Labs is screwing the content makers, Cube? Wow. News at 11.

    Virtual world customers are THE dumbest market in the business today.

  26. At some point, someone is going to zap Apple for its vertical monopoly of iPhone/iPad/iTouch vs. iTunes.

    The targeting of Adobe and its ability to build a Flash executable for the iPhone is pretty egregious, and foolish, for Apple (see other posting). One can quibble about Flash as an embedded web app, but specifying developers language to build iPhone binaries is absurd. Oh, and Adobe is big enough to sue Apple on this and would likely get support from a lot of media companies (once they get over their iPad delusions).

    … no Java either, I guess.

  27. I’m tired of predicting the imminent demise of Apple. It’s been ignoring the fact that it’s doomed for what, thirty years now? I’m chalking it up to some quantum quirk of improbability.

  28. I’m tired of predicting the imminent demise of Apple. It’s been ignoring the fact that it’s doomed for what, thirty years now? I’m chalking it up to some quantum quirk of improbability.

    Eh, I’m still waiting for Facebook to die as I predicted. It won’t happen. :(

  29. len
    howed that vivaty scene of yours go? ;) not so much eh?

    Its about licenses and copyright law.. len. not about another failed “open” file format. Its about ethics in business, not technoolgy.

    all my content built or rededited in SL is backed up as xml- and its already all on a 25.00 buck a month server at Reaction Grid. which works just like any ISp for html content…

    btw- Apple wont die- it just kills its children. its nothign new.-read.

    http://www.fanboy.com/2010/04/is-apple-working-on-a-flash-killer.html

    they own nothing of my work. Thye just rent me space on a server and maintain a network.

  30. I’m tired of predicting the imminent demise of Apple. It’s been ignoring the fact that it’s doomed for what, thirty years now? I’m chalking it up to some quantum quirk of improbability.

    I’m not predicting Apple’s demise, I think they’ve got a very successful vertical monopoly that may get broken up at some point.

  31. It went well, Cube. I didn’t lose a dime or any of my own content. I’m losing a room given to me for free to use to display my songs and YouTube videos plus photos that belong to other people. They have good technology and a lousy business plan. They have a great editor but did little to support the content-generating users. Like Apple, they feared looking bad so they choked the chicken. They had a prime roost but never actually spend time collecting the eggs.

    Without open formats, user-generated content is a work-for-nothing. As Tony points out on the X3D list, a JS programmer could screen scrape the content. Realistically, it isn’t worth the trouble because the rooms would not be that hard to duplicate. I used Jing to video sample the room which for documentation is fine.

    As for Apple’s ethics, that’s been an oxymoron from Apple 1 forward.

  32. On the other hand, I’m not particularly comfortable with Flash being the one-and-only standard for game development because it gives Adobe too much power over how well my hardware works.

    Then it’s the devs and portals you need to blame, not Adobe. Can’t blame the devs for what Apple is doing (unless your answer is to ask all devs to boycott Apple which won’t happen).

    The good thing is that we slowly see game portals allowing iframe integration so it opens the door for Javascript, HTML 5 stuff. Still not perfect but if you’re going for something like Bejeweled people won’t see the difference between Flash and Javascript these days.

  33. Can’t blame the devs for what Apple is doing (unless your answer is to ask all devs to boycott Apple which won’t happen).

    I was astounded by the vote-with-your-feet response to similar moves by devs in the past. With Apple legislating languages and toolkits, any path of least resistence can be a voting booth. It might not be soon or as loud as the protests I’m reading elsewhere, but it can happen. What Apple will do is pursue the so-called thought leaders, make them feel good about themselves, and expect the rest to follow. So far the whole iPad launch has been a classic and lazy Apple operation based on past successes. There is far more resistance to it than I thought possible. They may have stumbled. The culture needs a New Evil Empire and it looked like it was going to be Google. Apple may have inadvertently sailed into the Google’s wind shadow and by adding this language debacle to the iPad launch misstep, accelerated that choice to their own detriment.

    So now it’s shiny execution vs dogged openness.

  34. I’m chalking it up to some quantum quirk of improbability.

    Apple is consistently rescued by Microsoft, which is not only a competitor but also a major investor and partner.

  35. Apple may have inadvertently sailed into the Google’s wind shadow and by adding this language debacle to the iPad launch misstep, accelerated that choice to their own detriment.

    So now it’s shiny execution vs dogged openness.

    Funny thing is that I am way way more worried about the “win state” for Google than for Apple. Apple just wants me to only use their devices. Google wants to know everything about me, and sell it.

  36. yes raph.
    and unlike most- Apple WANTS creative content/makers to be PAID. They have No web2.0 biz plans.;) They dont consider their customers content generators -so far at least;( Though ADOBE DID tried this in 2008 online)

    So as before, last years TECH gurus, will be made obsolete- LINGO to Actionscript–(adobe;) and all will have to spend more time (what you really lost, Len) and money buying and learning new technologies…. so that they can make the next social “content” games..and be ready to SERF the next tech driven bubble.

    Humans follow the machine.

    The machine must spin. too bad some even confuse “open standards” with just
    “valuable standards” still.;)

    Hypercard, Director, Flash, were valuable standards…
    but Apple wants to reset the media clock to 1990… well
    maybe thatll be a “good” thing. What Google’s done with “media” since 2000 hasnt exactly created a “better world.”

    Only a more unequal one.

  37. I’d argue that Apple wants Apple to be paid and is happy to cut anyone else out of the loop and let the content creators price war themselves into the ground. Who cares as long as Steve gets his 30%, eh?

    This move is pretty clearly an attack against Adobe and other tool / middleware creators, but more importantly is an attempt to lock developers in to iPhone.

    It’s clearly in the best interest of developers for their apps to run everywhere — the wider the market they have the better the chance they’re going to make some money. It’s not in the best interest of Apple for apps to run anywhere but their platform.

  38. It’s not in the best interest of Apple for apps to run anywhere but their platform.

    Apple’s changes seem to trend toward the net effect of making development for their platform too costly for independent developers, who I would guess comprise the largest segment of Apple’s market for its platform. I have a feeling that someone at Apple was shocked to learn that and said, “The wrong people are developing for our platform! We need to change that right quick.”

  39. all will have to spend more time (what you really lost, Len)

    It wasn’t that much. Vivaty had easy DD&G tools. I had content. It snapped together like legos. Vivaty’s demise is symptomatic of the larger issue for VR worlds of doing exactly what Apple does: lock-in as a business model constraint on consumers.

    Raph, I agree that Google’s data collection and resale is scarcy. It is as scary as Facebook, but here you’re talking to someone who started ringing that bell back in the 1980s prior to the web being launched when we realized what building integrated open hypermedia on the Internet entailed for privacy. It’s always been bloody apparent where we were going or at least for those of us inside the security conscious firewalls of DoD contracting at the time. As much as I enjoy the openness, I knew what would be done with it. I realized then that whatever I did or said would be collected, sliced, diced and recast in whatever terms a determined party wanted to do with it, so I set my values accordingly.

    It isn’t a philosophical stance; it’s a practical one.

    I worry a heckuva lot more about the implications of having 1 per cent owning 90 per cent of an economy and the class war brewing out here, but that’s an entirely different discussion best held elsewhere.

  40. this is the 80′s all over again. apple chooses “cool” over “practical”. the oncoming next set of business tools are online, and able to access via mobile. just like the microsoft battle, Apple has the lead and will lose it because they still don’t like the free market. they should release an iPud to muck around with the rest of the world and preserve some of their future.

  41. [...] Ralph Koster looks at the war between Apple and Flash. [...]

  42. How are smaller developers losing out? Whether or not you use something like CS5 to create an iPhone app, you still have to pay the $100 to becomes an iPhone OS developer to release your product on the AppStore. Smaller developers can still make apps, they just have to use Apple’s dev tools/Obj. C.

    Maybe that’s giving developers less choice, but it’s not like it’s giving bigger developers more freedom. For that, you could look to another AppStore controversy, but not insofar as the Flash-banning is concerned.

  43. Wyldkard, having to do language ports for each platform is a big barrier for smaller developers.

  44. Having to do ports to multiple languages will increase costs for all vendors, big and small.

    Is the cost of coding/debugging a bigger slice of the budget for smaller developers?

    (I’m prepared to believe that the bigger developers spend a bigger fraction of their budget on sales and marketing etc., and so will be less badly hit by a change that greatly increases how much they need to spend on programming and testing).

  45. D’oh, but a problem of reacquiring content builder skills for some n percentage of content builders is a non-trivial market clot.

    Styles and techniques for fast, professional production are intimately physically tied to the hand-to-eye actions of the content builders using given tools. Habituation is an amazingly dull but real impediment to looking at Adobe and saying “Screw you and your Lickety Street Flash!”

    The Apple bet is the money is all in the big publishing houses and they are willing to help retrain there. It is similar to bets made in early WYSIWYG that all the money was in education of DoD. It was a reasonable bet for the markets at that precise time but that environment shifted radically to smaller shops and independents.

    I’m just an observer to this one, but IME, it’s never been a good idea to short the authors in any hardware-centric business that requires content. It’s like building the best newest finest club on the strip: for a season or so, all the best acts go there but then it’s a bidding war for the acts and someone else has built a bigger room.

    Running up costs to be in either room turns the first room into a pay-to-play. It’s a very West Coast concept.

  46. “education OR DoD”

  47. Susan, the short answer is yes.

    In this case in particular, we are talking most especially about the lowest end of the developer market, where costs hit the most. These are folks without any marketing budget at all.

  48. retrain….at a game studio or publisher? lol my ass.. 20 years..never have i seen any tech based business train anyone inhouse. You live or die by the version number of software you happend to graduate college using..
    within a decade ,either its gone or odds are your gone.;)

    and the cycle loops…just like the code.

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