Adobe’s Kevin Lynch talks about HTML5 and Steve Jobs’ recent pronouncements on Flash, which Jobs argues doesn’t play nice with the iPhone, iPad, etc.
Now, believe me when I say that I’m no lover of Flash, indeed I actively dislike it in many ways, but like extremist parties in a democracy I support its right to exist. And in truth, if used well, in the right context, etc, etc, Flash can be pretty cool. But that’s not the point, the point is that if, as Apple argues, Flash on mobile platforms sucks then developers and users should be given the right to reject it, without Apple banning its use.
But of course Steve Jobs is being disingenous in his attacks on Flash. Apple is anti-Flash because it wants to protect revenue from the app store and promote Objective C as a language. It doesn’t want a bunch of free Flash games killing the golden goose.
I understand that Apple is looking to maximise revenues and defend its competitive advantage, but it should at least be honest about its motives. OK, maybe it’s asking a bit much for honesty in the Valley, however, it should at least be open about its motives, after all Apple was one of the first companies to embrace computing as a open platform, c.f. the Woz and the Homebrew Computing Club and the proprietary approach doesn’t sit well with this legacy. Particularly, when you add in the way the approval process works.
Of course, I understand that Apple wins by delivering a brilliant user experience, something it achieves by retaining control. And of course a lot of this is tied up with bigger issues, namely the end of the homecomputing era and the arrival of the wireless era. However, I don’t think that Apple can win the mobile platform game in the long run anyway, as it won’t license the platform. So while they have a hardware marketshare lead in some markets, this year has and will see most of the competition catch up and in may cases surpass their hardware offering. In addition, I reckon platform inertia is less significant than some industry types might think – most iPhone apps are relatively ephemeral things.
So for my money, by acting the way it is, Apple is trading brand reputation for short-term revenue in the app store. Not in my opinion the best deal.