Chatting with Apple Fanboys

Looking for commentary on the current ugly Apple versus Adobe confrontation on the banning of Flash from the Apple Mobile Lite lineup of products [currently, iPod, Ipad, iPhone] I Stumbled on the Cult of Mac website. Cult of Mac had the returning shot across the bow by Adobe Flash Product Evangelist Lee Brimelow after Apple’s Steve Jobs had ruled out not only Flash but also programs generated from a just-to-be-announced Flash bridge tool that generated iPhone and IPad compliant Objective C code from Flash files. Here are Brimelow’s remarks:

What is clear is that Apple has timed this purposely to hurt sales of CS5. 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. […] 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.

Given that the Flash to iPhone bridge was one of the key features of the upcoming CS5 launch event one can understand the vehemence of the concluding remarks. The idea this posting will advance is that Steve Jobs may have done exactly that.

The Reaction Among Cult of Mac Readers

Here are some comments made by Cult of Mac-ers. It has the flavor of some Democrat vs Republican trash talks. But also there are some very revealing observation which I have highlighted in green.

I think Apple is going a little overboard here, BUT by sidelining Flash again here they are pushing developers away from Flash, which can only lead to less Flash use in open web development, which, in turn, bodes better for Apple’s Flash-free platforms… and the open web itself. When Flash finally dies it will be a good day for the world. There is little I dislike more than Flash.

I’m not Adobe’s biggest fan but they’re right in this instance. It’s extremely arrogant of Apple to do this and certainly without offering any alternatives. I’ve recently had an idea for an iPad app that I was getting excited about making. I’ve been doing some research on how to build them. I can’t now. I don’t code. I’m a visual person and through experience I’ve learn’t that I just don’t have the head for coding. At the very least, Apple could offer an alternative program where one can build an app and the code is generated `under the hood’ by the program. Carn Steve! If you’re gunna carry on like this, at least have the decency to offer some alternatives!!

Apple is NOT out of line, come on people, try and see the big picture. Apple is the only tech company out there with REAL vision and a focus on creating a better experience for it’s users. Do you really think we’re going to be running stupid Flash wrappers on rich content along with other ancient computer concepts (too many to list here) in 10 years? If it wasn’t for Apple and it’s innovations, we’d all be using crappy HP computers bought from idiots in blue shirts running bloated Windows and all of the crapware that goes with it. Sorry to say but Adobe is part of the problem.

Apple have made the same mistake they made in the 90s. They are capping their potential.

Someone totally forgot about the designers point of view in all this,I am not a great fan of Adobe or Flash but I would love to be able to make make Apps for iPhone/iPad myself with a compiler of some sort….

WITHOUT the ever square and backwards thinking of Programmers stomping down on every great idea with their “that can just not be done” and “well, this is the way it HAS to look in the way I write code”I want more design innovation and less anal retentive programmers bull built into Apps

Yes. Apple is out of line with this one for sure – and Apple will likely loose in court if push comes to shove. But c’mon Adobe….you should be killing of flash before anyone else…cs5 shouldn’t be generating iPhone apps…it should be generating html5/javacricpt/etc. Do this and ignore Apple !

Steady Adobe . . . just clean up that monster resource hog, Flash, and the problem will be all but over.

I don’t see why people do not get the bigger picture of this. They’re not excluding just Flash, but any cross compiler that is not in house or Apple approve. So what about those startups that have to use those tools to get their apps out? Apple has basically said deal with it or get lost.

The reason I see Apple doing this though is because of Android development. This made it easy to make one app and have it go on all platforms easily (Adobe Air being a example), but with this declaration, it effectively gives developers an ultimatum. Either labor to make two apps with many a different tools, or just make one and forget about the rest.

I understand business, but this is dirty. Apple is seriously getting scared and seeing the past happen again, so instead of truly just making better products, they strongarm developers and sue manufacturers to basically deter them by way of fear.

What become obvious from this stream of comments, is that users are a)riled about Flash performance on the Mac [especially video performance] and b)concerned that Apple is cutting off alternative approaches to iPad/iPhone development, especially for non-programmers.  The non-programmers reason that if  Flash to iPhone generation is cutoff so too could be UnityAd, Lua, Lazlo, Silverlight and other generator systems not yet explicitly rejected by Apple. So the critical issue appears to be i)Flash performance on Apple MacOS plus Phone OS software and ii)legitimate use of alternative software generation techniques.

Flash Reliability and Performance on the Mac

Flash is alleged  to be a less than stellar performer on the Mac for speed, resource usage , security and reliability. My own first hand experience is that performance of Flash on the Mac goes as follows:
Freestanding Flash apps are faster than any other browser than Safari-based  Flash apps where Safari Flash apps are slowest. Safari, of course, is Apple’s browser.

In comparison freestanding Flash video is faster than any browser based Flash video but QuickTime video outperforms Flash. Also, it is reported that World of Warcraft when run on a BootCamped MacPro machine using Windows XP and then MacOS, Windows runs 6fps faster than MacOS. This is the same machine, same gaming software, different OS. In video performance is MacOS less capable. ? But what does this mean about iPhone OS performance with video?

Benchmarks done at the Streaming Learning Center from early this year seem to confirm my overall experience and the Warcraft observations. Clearly Apple MacOS does not run video as well as Windows. But access to hardware acceleration, 64bit operation and GPUs are some of the many issues at play. However, my Mac Safari observations are not confirmed in this study.

However, the observations that graphics performance for video is faster in Windows than Mac appears to be confirmed but the precise advantage is subject to more complete and comprehensive testing.

As for reliability and security of Flash on Mac – this is a dogs breakfast. There are allusions from Apple that their biggest hit rate from error reports by users is “plugins” but Google searches do not confirm this. So Wikipedia appears to be the most “controlled” observers of reliability and security questions on Flash Player. From this source security appears to be a continuing problem while reliability, as in the case of  performance , appears to be platform dependent – Windows best, Apple and Linux trailing behind.

And this constant, second fiddle position of Apple versus Windows in many of the performances measures of Flash Player may be one source of chagrin for  Steve Jobs. But as noted in the remarks from Cult of Mac, another may be the the fact that Flash Player on the iPad/iPod/iPhone opens a potentially large rival to the iApps Store.

Post at Cult of Mac Blog

For what it is worth I made this post on the Cult of Mac website:

Apple has chosen to impose  a very closed development system and approval process ostensibly to guarantee the quality of apps on its rapidly evolving Mobile Lite Line-up of devices. All well and good.  However, there are many who would say the quality among 160,000 iPhone +iPad apps has a large number  that are a cut below the Normal Curve in performance and innovations or  are primarily ads for business services.

But the bottom line  Apple has certainly pioneered some of the key innovations in this new Mobile Lite market that Wired has praised profusely. Others like Palm, Casio  and Apple’s own Newton were close. Others like Microsoft’s Tablet were too constrained.  To Apples  iPhone, Apple has lead the way on.

But remember 3 salient points. One, Steve Jobs initially opposed the idea of apps on the iPhone. Two, others have had this vision too with the likes of Kindle and other eReaders, increasingly innovative Netbooks, Palm and Android devices, plus game consoles becoming Web and media presentation devices.
Three, Apple is  taking a high risk with its  closed ecosystem:
i – “Thou shalt develop only with our tools”;
ii – “Thou shalt only be able to release apps that meet our approval including the draconian ‘no apps with functionally similar to any other’ which only we get to decide upon the degree of similarity”;
iii – “Thous shalt sell those apps and media only through our stores/outlets”
Apple closed system for “quality insurance only” has some  It is setting itself up for a possible quick fall either by:
1)There are already  many  competitors entering the market as the Steve’s vision has been shared by many others. These competitors may be able quickly match features while  pricing lower than the premium margins charged by Apple;
2)Apple may quickly tripping off legal or antitrust action as it employs techniques of exclusion more predatory than those that got Microsoft in the federal courts in 1998 to 2000. R;
3)Apple may just fall behind in big Mobile Light innovations as it cuts out design ideas and process improvements engendered through Flash, Java, Silverlight and several other generator technologies which have been declared “persona non grata” in the iOnlyKnowtheBestDevelopmentTechnologies designated by the guy who originally rejected 3rd party Apps on the iPhone [Steve can make big design mistakes].
And we have no better proof that Apple can and has fallen seriously behind the Mobile Lite innovation curve with the announcement of iPhone OS4. Most of its “features” are really “Me too,  catch up” fixes to the iPhone OS like multitasking, support for files and folders, uniform mail inbox, different background colors and/or images attachable to different workspaces, security and VPN enhancements, etc.
And for those who suppose that Apple’s Mobile Lite lineup has an unsurmountable lead look at what is happening in the Smartphone marketplace:
1)Android in November 2009 to February 2010 gained 5.2% to 9.0% while Apple dropped slightly by 0.1% to 25.4%;
2)Android had 9000 new apps added in March. If this rate of Android Apps development is continued for a year, Android will have an App catalog as big as Apples;
3)There are dozens of new Android powered devices due out this Summer and Fall. Now quantity is not quality; but there may be a few Droids, EVOs and Nexus Ones in those Dirty Dozens.
However Android is not the only entrant. There is Google Chrome OS based Mobile Lite Devices; a flock of very good eReaders++; a wave of Taiwanese and Chinese Mobile Lites powered by Snapdraogons and Nvidia Tegra 2s; the HP Slate Touch PC, and game consoles gone Web and media connectors.
The bottom line is that Apple does not have a 2-3 year lead in the Mobile Lite marketplace but more like 2-3 quarters if that.
But the most serious concern is that Apple and Steve Jobs have fumbled big innovation leads before [think Apple II and Lisa/Mac]. By taking the high risk approach of a closed development and content marketing system, Apple is sewing the seeds of its own products destruction yet again. Cutting off Flash, Java, Silverlight and a host of other development software means that some great ideas will not just be missed but also will likely appear first in competitors products that are more open to development tools.
But there are other losses as well. Software companies whose tools have been rejected will not be happy campers and will likely strike deals with competitors. Developers who have found that their work done on these tools are “out of bounds” will now likely defect to competitive platforms.
In sum, iPod/iPad/iPhones closed and proprietary may indeed engender innovative products plus massive sales growth and profits in the intermediate term but long term they could spell downturn or even a Palm-like disaster. Now the problem for Steve Jobs and Apple is that in the hyperaccelerated world of mobile, gadgets and computing, the long term is at best 1-3 years.

Apple’s Steve Jobs appears to have slammed the door too tightly on closed development and exclusive marketing for his Mobile Lite Lineup of iPod/iPad/iPhone. He has already scuffled with Google over Google Voice. [Google will force a test of Steve’s good intentions because Google has created an HTML5 workaround for the previously rejected Google Voice iPhone app. HTML5 is the solution Steve has suggested Adobe use to make its Flash apps acceptable on iPhone etc]. Steve Jobs has openly and harshly insulted Adobe for its Flash Player on the Mac with mixed credibility on investigation. Steve took this action despite Adobe bringing the creative community to Mac with its Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash and 7 other Creative Suite programs. There is now rumored to be an Adobe lawsuit against Apple[becareful, the anti-Adobe vitriol is caustic] over the issue of Flash exclusion from the iPad and Apple Mobile Lineup. Finally, not just Adobe Flash but a bevy of software developers that use Flash or program generator technology are also on the outside looking in. And those company’s millions of developers and users are also on the outside on Apple devices but not Google, HP Slate, and dozens of Netbooks, eReaders and other rapidly evolving smart and touch-easy-to-use devices. And to think, Apple has enough cash and marketable securities to easily buy Adobe at 30% premium and have done with “the problem” with Flash while owning the creative software world. In sum, maybe Steve Jobs has gone and done Adobe’s Lee Brimelow exactly the favor he asked for.

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