Something which gives us a fairly clear indication of the state of Apple’s relationship with Adobe, and the nuts and bolts behind the controversial Developer Contract clause 3.3.1, is the very differing reactions coming out of two software companies affected by it.
On the one hand we have Adobe, who really seem to be the target of this clause, who are considering suing Apple over the clause. Various sources close to Adobe are saying that the company is seriously considering taking Apple to court over their decision to block cross-compiled apps on the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.
This comes towards the end of a week where various representative and employees of Adobe have attacked Apple via blogs and press releases with varying degrees of venom. There have also been veiled threats of taking this issue all the way to governmental bodies in the US, with the claim that Apple is purposefully trying to do irreparable damage to Adobe’s business.
Clause 3.3.1 when taken at face value serves to make not only Adobe’s new CS5 Flash Deployment tool (aimed at allowing Flash developers to create iPhone native apps from their work) useless. But also to stop developers using tools like MonoTouch and Unity.
Conversely the company behind the very popular cross-compilation tool Unity, which is responsible for many top ten entertainment hits for the iPhone, has a more laid back view. Unity Technologies CEO David Helgason has been very calm about the whole issue, and came out with this update yesterday :
We have no indication from Apple that things are going to change,” Helgason said. “We have a great relationship with Apple and will do everything we can to comply with Apple’s TOS (also, these are ‘beta TOS’, and these easily get changed) so that we can provide uninterrupted service to our more than 120K users.
Adobe and Apple’s history is fairly checkered. Once stalwart allies. Adobe famously undermined Apple in recent history by delaying Intel native apps for OS X, and even advising people that the Apple platform should be abandoned for the PC.
It seems that some of these decisions are now coming home to roost for Adobe. What is interesting is that a relative newcomer like Unity is behaving more the way you would expect an industry corner stone like Adobe to.
My personal opinion is the same as David Helgason’s. Unity have nothing to worry about. Clauses can change, and Apple can decide in it’s own stores how to apply it’s own rules. If a product like Unity is allowing people to produce quality software for Apple’s platform there is absolutely no reason for them to be unkind to it.
I also believe that, although Adobe and Apple have a lot of history causing a breakdown of communication between the two companies, Flash is not suited to mobile platforms at the moment, and Apple’s decision is based on providing the best user experience possible for it’s customers. It’s that simple. Flash does not fit into that plan. Especially the nature of Touch Interfaces and the hardware running mobile devices while Flash is so unstable and resource hungry.
What’s your view on this? Do you wish you could have Flash apps on your iPhone? Are you worried for Unity, or do you think Helgason has taken the right approach to this?
Let us know you thoughts in the comments.