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Apple’s Jobs Defends Flash Claims

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Apple CEO Steve Jobs has given a series of reasons why Apple does not support Adobe’s Flash on its mobile platforms

Mike Sax, founder of Sax.net and an iPhone application developer, told eWEEK: “Steve [Jobs] is saying they don’t want anyone to slow them down. Apple understands that developers drive the platform, and whoever owns the dominant development tool owns a big part of the value and the future of the platform.”

Sax said he believes Microsoft and Apple both understand this very well but have very different approaches in dealing with it.

“Microsoft has invested tremendous resources and talent in development tools,” said Sax, who also said he is interested in developing applications for the upcoming Windows Phone 7 platform. “They allow third-party tool vendors to do whatever they want (and even encourage them) but they compete with their own partners vigorously to make sure Microsoft provides the best set of developer tools.”

However, “Apple has decided to kill the babies before they become strong,” Sax said. “Unfortunately, they ignore [the fact] that tools like Appcelerator, Mono and Flash are becoming popular primarily because of developer productivity, not their cross-platform capabilities. Apple’s mobile development tool set is lacking in developer productivity, with a unique language and no support for basic enhancements like garbage collection.”

Developers need third party tools

In a blog post entitled, “Thoughts on ‘Thoughts on Flash,'” Adam Banks, an editor, writer and designer, said of Jobs’ statement about being at the mercy of a third party:

“Sort of get that. Problem: at the moment, for the thousands of developers and creatives who do have the skills to use Flash but don’t have the first glimmer of a clue how to code in Objective-C, none of the enhancements of the iPx platform are available. The platform isn’t available at all. (I wrote about this in my reaction to 3.3.1.) And the only way it’s ever going to be available is via some kind of third party tool. One with full typographical support. You know, like Adobe TLF.”

Tim Bray, a Google engineer on the Android team, tweeted: “On Jobs’ letter: Flash filled a need, there might not be one on mobile, but Apple [is] shortsighted in blocking it.”

Meanwhile, Al Hilwa, an analyst with IDC, called for a truce. Hilwa said:

“I think what everyone would prefer is that Apple and Adobe should be working together on this and not talking at each other in this way. Apple has to define what it means for applications to be compliant [with] its interface and other platform and development tools vendors should be given the chance to adapt. The translation layer argument is weak. Translated software or software that runs on virtual machines is not necessarily inferior and can be made to be effectively as good while offering specific advantages, namely being able to address multiple devices or platforms with one development effort, one team, one set of skills. We have to remember that some of the greatest innovations in languages over the last 15 years are virtual machines-based technologies such as Java and .NET that essentially translate in real time under the covers. While there may be legitimate technical concerns, technology partnerships are precisely for addressing them.”