Apple versus developers – this time it's personal

3.3.1 — Applications may only use Documented APIs in the manner prescribed by Apple and must not use or call any private APIs. Applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine, and only code written in C, C++, and Objective-C may compile and directly link against the Documented APIs (e.g., Applications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool are prohibited).

Just days before the official Adobe CS5 launch, with the now widely reported iPhone packager feature, Apple comes out with a new clause in their iPhone Developer Program License Agreement (see above).

This effectively means that any apps with code not originally written in any of the Apple approved programming languages and are translated, cross-compiled would not be allowed for distribution in the iTunes app store. Obviously this not only affects Adobe but other tools out there such as Unity, OpenPlug ELIPS, MonoTouch, XMLVM etc. and potentially even puts into question the use of any form of code generation or WYSIWYG tools.

There are currently hundreds of applications using third party technologies in the iTunes app store and the question is what will happen with these after this new license agreement comes into affect.

In my view this is clearly a malicious move by Apple to wait until mere days before the CS5 launch to make this announcement and illustrates how communication between Apple and Adobe is sadly at an all time low.

I expect Adobe to come out with a strong statement about its position and a plan of action and hope developers across the board send a clear message to Apple that they are crossing a line here. This goes beyond any form of quality control but dictates how you are allowed to write the code for the application you are submitting to them. The level of control Apple wants to have over their application ecosystem is unprecedented and unreasonable by any measure.

To quote Joa Ebert on Twitter: “Apple forcing people to develop in Objective-C is as if Microsoft would tell you to use MS Paint for your design work”.

[update] A first official statement by Adobe: “We are aware of the new SDK language and are looking into it. CS5 will still launch on April 12th.”



37 thoughts on “Apple versus developers – this time it's personal

  1. I really can not believe what happened tonight.. I’m really wondering if solutions like OpenPlug will be banned too, they generate native code and then compile within XCode. If Apple goes through with this it really is pathetic

  2. Andrew says:

    Apple isn’t likely to budge on this unless people start leaving the plantation. Stop buying their junk already. Everybody bitched about the iPad and how much it was going to suck and then the everybody went out, stood in line, and bought one anyway.

  3. […] Peter Elst: Apple vs Developers: This time its personal […]

  4. David says:

    Seriously? How is it possible that Adobe could be so stupid as to bet a new release on this premise without getting ironclad contractual agreements beforehand?

    Who care if CS5 gets released… that won’t be much benefit to developers who get their apps rejected.

    Apple is no saint but Adobe is just ridiculous. I’d even go so far as to say that Adobe deliberately didn’t do their due diligence just to make Apple look bad. Who loses? US.

  5. John says:

    Isn’t it a bit premature to be rallying the troops on something that isn’t confirmed yet on what it really means and before any of the companies that this affects have had a chance to check into this and respond?

    My understanding is that the only thing that changed in the new license from before is this part : “(e.g., Applications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool are prohibited).”

    You can believe the sky is falling or not, but before getting the world in an uproar, seems like we should find out if this really impacts us or not. And i don’t see that happening until at least this summer once submissions for 4.0 are allowed.

  6. Charles Maney says:

    I always thought that Adobe’s producing videos about the “great” the HP Slate just days before the iPad launch was a terrible idea. All Flash evangelists posted the links to the video and ridiculed the iPad.

    It was only a matter of time until Apple played the same game!

    I was excited like many others about Flash CS5. I think some heads should roll in Adobe’s PR department.

  7. Darren says:

    @fortyseven your avatar looks like it’s going to kill someone or eat a baby.

  8. Eric says:

    This is only when targeting 4.0 though, correct? I understand that this is a crappy move, I do understand that Adobe should have checked with Apple before rolling this feature up, etc.

    Time will tell how this really shakes out.

    Jobs was more than pleased telling everyone iAd ads are powered by HTML5. Maybe Adobe should add HTML5 app development to Flash Builder?

  9. Mike says:

    I believe this has more to do with Google than Adobe. Adobe’s tools promise to make it easier to develop an app for multiple platforms (iPhone, Google’s platform, etc). Right now Apple has momentum in the app space. If an app developer is going to sink time/money into developing a new app, they will most likely develop for the Apple platform first and then decide if rewriting the app for other platforms makes sense. Adobe’s tools promise to enable developers to create apps in Flash and with little or no effort, publish to various platforms (although I don’t know how well they’ll deliver).

    I don’t think this sits well with Apple, as it would jeopardize their standing as “the” app platform. Adobe’s tools might level the playing field, so Apple has decided to ban apps built using such tools.

    It’s a very Microsoft-like approach to take, and it will be interesting to see if the industry takes similar legal action against Apple. IMO, it’s justified, as Apple has now moved to using its dominance to squash competition.

  10. […] at the Max keynote)  Peter Elst of Adobe even goes so far as to call the timing ’a malicious move‘ by […]

  11. Aaron says:

    Apple has a lot of nerve pulling shit like this, especially after they launch their ipad that barely works… This is just more fuel for people to buy android phones. The bottom line is that there is no one saying who and what and how apps on Droid can be made… Would someone choose to live in a cage or live in freedom? I prefer to live in freedom, so I guess I might as well get rid of my Iphone because Droid Does Freedom….

  12. graphex says:

    Because of this move, I’m returning my iPad, 10% restocking fee or not. This is a horrible move and seriously and instantly converts this Apple fanboy into an absolute hater of Apple. This is like the 09F9 revolt on Digg that I would suggest lead to the downfall of HD-DVD.

  13. Ain Tohvri says:

    Yes, absolutely outrageous. This is clearly an antitrust case and subject to investigation by European Commission. I assure you guys, Apple will be fined by EC over this one.

    Of course, it should have never gone as far, but Apple’s initiative to block Flash entirely basically introduced it. They’ve just continued to pursue their policies.

  14. virgil says:

    I wish Google would give Apple a taste of their own medicine. Google could just close the API used by the iPhone’s “YouTube app” and thus disallow (most of) the youtube vidoes from playing on iPhone/iPad. They can’t do this for all Google appse (if they’d close maps for instance, people would just start using Bing maps) – but for youtube the’re safe, there is no real competitor.

    Yeah, it ain’t gonna happen, but one can dream, right? 🙂

  15. virgil says:

    And actually, they would have good reason to do so:
    1. “We support an open web, and open platforms. With their latest move, Apple has shown that they want a closed device, where only applications developed in Apple-approved tools are approved. We don’t want to unnecessarily increase the popularity of such platforms”
    2. Of course, less iPhones would probably mean more Android-based phones…. and “no youtube” would be a damn compelling reason not to buy the next-generation iPhone, or the iPad for that matter.

  16. prafuitu says:

    If it was up to me, I wouldn’t release CS5 for Mac.

    Let’s see what Apple would do about that. Offcourse, it would hurt Adobe’s sales for a while, but I think Apple’s sales would hurt even more, since most of their clients are designers or design studios. This would lower Mac sales, increase the PC sales and, also, the Windows 7 sales, giving a reason to Microsoft to help Adobe.
    So, we have 2 giants fighting against Apple until now…
    If we also count Google in, I belive we could safely say Apple is history!

    …but that’s just a (wet) dream of mine! 😀

  17. Charles Maney says:

    @prafuitu … Then history would probably repeat itself. Don’t forget that about 10 years ago, Adobe dropped the Mac version of Premiere and never introduced Mac versions of other post-production tools. We all panicked and were forced to use older versions while the Windows community enjoyed the latest advances. Then Apple introduced its own video/post-production suites. All you can hear now is studios using Final Cut, Motion, Soundtrack, etc…

    The Adobe creative suite apps are bloated. Apple has the resources to develop a competitive suite with leaner apps for the Mac community. Then who knows what happens to Adobe. Young people seem to embrace Apple products more than any other previous generation. This could actually be detrimental for Adobe in the long term.

  18. wonderwhy-er says:

    It is little bit hard to understand how Apple will use this rule yet… Seems like a lot of interpretation and speculation so far. But if this is like it seems it is then Apple strikes at cross-platform development!?!? May be not all of it but a lot of it… And this is just outrageous… I am speechless. Apple just continues in break rules in software development in bad way… This just makes me sick… This is just anti-competitive and thus breaking innovation… But if so may be this is a good thing as this is only worse for Apple…

    @prafuitu: Heh it becomes my wet dream too… Apple makes a lot of enemies over last two years span using very shady competition practices in a lot of levels…

  19. dandare says:

    With a cool head you must admit that from short term point of view it’s a great move for Apple.

    But in long term they will loose the most valuable property they have – reputation and goodwill.

    The famous 1984 ad gets a new point now 🙂

  20. Phil says:

    There was a ton of speculation that Apple would pull something like this and now they have and Adobe is caught with it’s foot up its arse.

    Does it suck? Yes, but it’s Apples platform and they are free to do what they want. In regards to EC anti-trust issue, not even a though since Apple by no means has a monopoly on the cell phone market.

    Adobe should continue to work with their other partners to get Flash on as many mobile devices as they can. At the same time they should work with as many content creators to develop their apps in Flash.

    If the demand for Flash support is there then Apple will ultimately fold. If competitors are offering high demand content that Apple cannot provide then they will need to change their policies.

  21. Audas says:

    What ?
    Yeah – studios use motion, sound track and final cut – yeah ! which studio – the one in your back garage.

    Do you have any idea how many people use Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, Premiere – in fact the entire production suite ? As for Audio production if you are using either of those tools (or Sound booth) then you know NOTHING about audio.


    Macs have been for fan boys for years – they really are, Apple is now taking them for an absolute ride and only the most asinine are refusing to wake up.

    I agree – sell you macs, get over the white / silver case, pay a quarter of the price and open up to a million new applications you never knew existed.

    Flash should be the web standard – it is clearly the best medium for the web – time we ditched html.

  22. philippe says:

    When you think Adobe’s products made Apple’s success….
    Apple didn’t learn from their history, they are greedy, they won’t be fooling people for long.

  23. Charles Maney says:

    @Audas – Apparently, you are unaware of the world outside of the Flash bubble. It might be worthwhile to pick up a post-production / video-editing rag once in a while. Your comments on the Studio product line are unfounded.

  24. prafuitu says:

    @Charles Maney
    Looks like there are other people thinking the way I do:
    What if there are people at Adobe thinking the same way?!
    It’s pretty exciting! 😀 I can hardly wait to see how will Adobe retaliate!

  25. It’s just incredible. Apple’s new mission seems to be to alienate every one of their former partners.
    Enough is enough. Adobe should release CS5 for PC only and Google should block access to their map, search and YouTube services from iStuff. Is that what it will take for Steve to realise it’s better to be part of the community, than against it?

    iAd? WTF!

  26. Charles Maney says:

    This would certainly explain why Jobs’ singled out Google and Adobe during his Town Hall meeting. MS needs Apple in some respect to fend off anti-trust issues. However, I don’t really think Google does. As you say, the next few months will be exciting. I just hope that we, the developers, don’t end up paying the price.

  27. prafuitu says:

    Here’s another nice one from Apple: they have removed the blue lego icon that was displayed where the Flash movies should have been. This would make it look as if the site itself was broken, hidding the fact that the device is unable to show the content.
    Fortunetly, as a statement, Grant Skinner released a blueLego edition of SWFObject! :))

  28. […] are already a bunch of posts and commentary on the Apple SDK update prohibiting applications that link to Documented APIs through an […]

  29. Gregir says:

    Wow, what a bunch of sour grapes and venom. I’m a Flash developer myself, but I fail to see the problem, aside from having to learn something new. I can’t make money developing iPhone/iPad apps with Flash. So what?! Six months ago, I didn’t expect to be able to anyway!

    You can develop for iPhone OS in three different, non-proprietary languages (Objective-C, C and C++) and one non-proprietary scripting language (JavaScript). Sad that our language of choice (ActionScript) isn’t on the list? Boo-hoo. Learn another language, if you call yourself a real developer. Don’t like that you have to have a Mac? Boo-hoo. A company is trying to make money by having you work via their technology to develop for their technology. How unprecedented and unreasonable!

    Adobe is no different from Apple…or Microsoft etc. They want to make money by getting everyone possible to use their tools. Adobe can call it the “Open” screen project all they want, it’s still an initiative to sell as many Adobe products as possible. It’s not a philanthropic free-for-all to spread goodwill.

    Every developer I’ve ever respected looked at a platform, looked at the best tool for the job, and either used it, learned to use it, or moved on. I’ve never seen anything ground-breaking, compelling or substantial that was created through a shortcut, cross-compile or hack.

  30. skierpage says:

    @Gregir, thanks for pointing out the truth.

    The alternative to both companies’ coercive agendas is the open web. Keep making great web sites and in a few years we’ll laugh at the quaint idea of “apps” and “app stores” for particular hardware. In the meantime make a Cocoa app that just creates a UIWebView to your site’s URL for Apple fans that are slow on the uptake.

  31. prafuitu says:

    There go the Cupertino Comment SPAM …zombies! (Borrowed and adapted from here: )

  32. klauzz says:

    Developers! We can change the course of this battle!
    HP Slate and HTC HD2 are in my wishlist.

  33. Yes this is bad from Apple, but Adobe’s business analysts should have forseen this scenario and planned for it. Rather than throwing thir cross-compiler resources at the iPhone feature Adobe could have continued developing Alchemy to give us a finished product with Flash CS5. Alchemy continues to languish as a beta on labs, when it has such great potential.

  34. Audas says:

    adobe is suing.

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