posted by Thom Holwerda on Sat 10th Apr 2010 10:47 UTC
IconThe backlash is starting to show. The most recent change in Apple's iPhone developer agreement isn't going down well. The change is clearly aimed at increasing lock-in, and seems to have little to nothing to do with anything else. While individual developers are hit hard, Adobe as a whole has been hit pretty hard too, giving rise to sentiments on the web that Adobe should abandon Mac development. I have the sneaking suspicion this is exactly what Apple is aiming for.


There's a lot of discussion going on about the recent change in the iPhone developer agreement. Apple specifically prohibits the use of any non-Apple approved programming language; if you want your application in the App Store, your application must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript. This means that tools like MonoTouch, Unity3D, or Ansca's Corona can no longer be used for iPhone development, and several other tools are problematic as well.

Unity3D hurts specifically since I believe Colorbind is one of the best iPhone games ever made (and yes, I've finished all levels, without looking up solutions on the internet).

While that in and of itself is bad enough, Apple's move seems almost specifically designed to rain on Adobe's parade, who is about to release CS5, which has as one of its main features the ability to produce iPhone applications similar to how some of those other tools work. Since Apple (or Jobs?) dislikes Adobe, they had to do something to prevent CS5 from having this functionality.

While Apple's dislike for Adobe is one reason, another is of course that of platform lock-in. Apple does not want you to develop for the iPhone - they want you to develop for the iPhone and nothing else. Apple does not want cross-platform development where developers can easily target Android, the iPhone OS, webOS, and others, all at the same time.

Android's growth is exponential. We already saw that in the US, Android has almost overtaken the iPhone OS in mobile browsing share, and a few days ago the news hit that Android's Market Place is seeing enormous growth as well; last month, over 9000 new applications were added, and this number is growing rapidly every month. Android is clearly a threat to the iPhone, and Apple acts accordingly - which includes suing HTC.

Adobe's response

In the meantime, Adobe isn't particularly happy about this situation. Even though Lee Brimelow, Platform Evangelist at Adobe, spoke on his own accord, it would be understandable if his sentiments are prevalent throughout the company. "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," Brimelow writes, "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."

"I am positive that there are a large number of Apple employees that strongly disagree with this latest move," he adds, "Any real developer would not in good conscience be able to support this. The trouble is that we will never hear their discontent because Apple employees are forbidden from blogging, posting to social networks, or other things that we at companies with an open culture take for granted."

"Speaking purely for myself, I would look to make it clear what is going through my mind at the moment," he says, "Go screw yourself Apple."

At this point, Adobe plans to ship CS5 with the iPhone cross-compiler built-in anyway. "We are aware of Apple's new SDK language and are looking into it," Adobe told The New York Times, "We continue to develop our Packager for iPhone OS technology, which we plan to debut in Flash CS5." Since CS5's release is planned for next week, this only makes sense.

Adobe should cease Mac development

This is a sentiment that is starting to rise from the fallout. If Apple time and time again purposefully screws over Adobe, maybe Adobe should bite back and pull the rug from underneath Apple? The Mac only has a 5% world wide market share, so you can't say with a straight face that Adobe makes most of its money through Mac users. There's no inherent reason why you should run Photoshop & Co. on a Mac, other than it has always been that way.

Brimelow has already stated this is not a very likely course of action. "Many of Adobe's supporters have mentioned that we should discontinue the Creative Suite products on OS X as a form of retaliation," he states, "Again, this is something that Adobe would never consider in a million years. We are not looking to abuse our loyal users and make them pawns for the sake of trying to hurt another company. What is clear is that Apple most definitely would do that sort of thing as is evidenced by their recent behavior."

Despite Adobe's understandable reluctance, after discussing this issue with Eugenia, I have been convinced this is exactly what Apple is aiming for: Apple wants Adobe to ditch its Mac products. The reason? Apple is working on a Photoshop competitor. If that's the case (we're just speculating, after all), it would benefit Apple greatly if Adobe ditch the Mac.

"In fact, I would not be surprised at all if Apple is working on a Photoshop replacement already for years now, in secret," Eugenia speculates, "If that's true, the clever thing for Adobe would be to not abandon the Mac platform." Again, let me reiterate we're just speculating.

"Although the Final Cut Studio (FCS fills up the functionality of Premiere and After Effects) and Aperture competition thing is not speculation, it's fact," Eugenia adds, "The only other interesting apps in the CS4 suite are Photoshop and Illustrator. It's possible that Apple might see the loss of Illustrator as an acceptable casualty for their platform (for now), but for the Photoshop thing, I think they might already be working on a replacement app. The rest of the CS4 apps don't really matter."

This is an interesting theory, but of course, there's no way to test its validity other than to just wait and see. It does sound plausible, and fits in perfectly with Jobs' mindset.

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