One interesting solution to the continuing public battle between Apple and Adobe over Flash support on its mobile platform would be for Apple to release its own Flash compiler, one that would allow a developer to create Flash applications without ever purchasing an Adobe product. Before you laugh, hear me out.
Neither company is open
What bothers me about the whole public fiasco is that both companies have been arguing that they support open formats – Apple in its preference for HTML5 and Adobe in its desire to publish its own applications freely to the iPhone – while both basing their own technology on extremely proprietary and closed formats, as seen in Apple’s recent closing of the iPhone and Adobe’s tight control of its Flash product.
The truth is, neither company wants their products opened for the world to use, but both companies demand the other open their platform. If Adobe was really serious about Flash as a ubiquitous platform, then they should donate Flash to a standards community that would open it to the world. Likewise, if Apple wanted anyone in the world to be able to develop on the iPhone, they would have created it as such and declared it an open standard.
Unfortunately, I agree with Apple
While I personally would love to develop iPhone applications using Adobe’s Flash-to-iPhone compiler (I really would!), I fully support Apple’s right to close the platform. Above all else, mobile platforms must be secure and Adobe’s iPhone compiler seriously threatens that security. The iPhone, like many other mobile platforms, is not open for the world to develop on, nor should it be.
There are many whispers that the government is investigating anti-trust violations over Apple’s blocking of Adobe’s iPhone compiler, but that would be ridiculous, since Apple does not have a monopoly on smart phones. In fact, the Android recently surpassed the iPhone in sales, leaving Apple in third place among smart phone manufacturers. Apple would have to be in first place with a clear monopoly on the market before I would support any government intervention telling Apple what it can and cannot do with its mobile platform.
Apple’s Flash Compiler
Since Adobe believes it has the right to freely develop on the iPhone while at the same time arguing Flash should be supported everywhere, one interesting twist would be for Apple to develop its own Flash compiler and even run-time. That would very likely upset Adobe and lead to a very interesting argument over proprietary platforms. Adobe could claim only they have the right to develop Flash applications, something Apple currently asserts over its iPhone application. On the other hand, Apple could claim that if the Flash platform is everywhere then it should be open for anyone to develop applications on, something Adobe likewise states about the iPhone platform.
And as an added bonus, Apple could develop this compiler as an iPad/iPhone application!