This Means War! Today, Adobe launches the highly anticipated Creative Suite 5 (CS5). The most anticipated feature of CS5 is the ability to develop applications using Flash technologies and compile the application so it will run in Apple’s iPhone. The great thing about this, from Adobe’s perspective, is that it allows hundreds of thousands of Flash developers the ability to develop iPhone, iPod, and iPad games, as well as other applications, using Adobe Flash (instead of Apple’s Objective-C) to develop those applications.
The CS5 launch comes just one week after Apple released the new iPad to rave reviews. Apple already dominates the Mobile Device Applications market with their iPhone and iPod Touch apps. Later this month, Microsoft will be launching their new .net 4, SharePoint 2010, Silverlight 4.0, and VisualStudio 2010, along with Office 2010. They will also be launching the new Windows Phone 7 platform later this year.
Here’s where it gets interesting, after working together for 2 years to develop the CS5 compiler, Apple and Adobe seem to have come to a parting of ways last Thursday, with agents of both companies tossing verbal artillery rounds at one another. From Apple’s perspective, Adobe wants Flash, rather than Apple’s Objective C, to be the de facto standard on the Apple platform. Apple’s response to Adobe’s bare-handed grab at domination: a change to Apple’s Terms of Service agreement for the iPhone Developer Kit. On Thursday, hyped by the success of the iPad release, Apple banned the use of a third-party compiler, i.e. CS5. The 2 years of collaboration was at an end.
In a PaidContent.Org article, Steve Jobs was characterized as saying the reason for Apple’s decision to ban CS5 iPhone development was that “Apple doesn’t want apps to work the same across devices; it wants iPhone/iPad apps to be singular and best used on its own devices.” The article describes an e-mail conversation between Apple’s CEO, Steve Jobs and Greg Slepak where Steve Jobs compliments the coverage of John Gruber’s Blog posting explaining why Apple Changed Section 3.3.1 of their Terms of Service agreement for the iPhone Developer Kit.
What about Adobe? Were they trying to steal market share from Objective-C and make Flash CS5 the de facto standard, or were they just trying to be responsive to the marketplace? Lee Brimlow, Platform Evangelist for Adobe, had this to say on his blog, “Adobe and Apple has had a long relationship and each has helped the other get where they are today. The fact that Apple would make such a hostile and despicable move like this clearly shows the difference between our two companies. All we want is to provide creative professionals an avenue to deploy their work to as many devices as possible. We are not looking to kill anything or anyone…” Brimlow ends his post with the following: “Go Screw Yourself Apple.”
Anyone who has been in the tech industry long enough knows that it’s an industry where rules are made to be broken, and, in this Mashup mobilized world that we techies inhabit, if there is any rule to which we expect our tech trailblazers to adhere, it is this: Don’t be evil. Those three simple words encompass two decades of geek-class shenanigans that would hot flash Shirley Temple curls bone-straight. Contrary to the thinly sprayed exterior of nerd gloss, the tech world is filled with evil genius. World domination is only a by-product of outplaying the next guy. These are chess moves, done in increments, so it’s only a matter of time until your opponent upends the playing field with disruptive tech.
So yeah, Apple punk-whacked Adobe, blasting the collaborative partnership in the process. Apple not only aimed and fired, they fired with timing, making their announcement of the CS5 ban the weekend of the CS5 launch. It’s Apple, people. Just because a new generation thinks that Apple is cool, doesn’t mean that Apple is also nice. Another thing to remember about Apple is this, for all that they like to put on the “We’re-just-like-you-only-cooler” act, if you’re a twenty-something developer raised with an open-source mindset, they are not “just like you.” Apple is old-school brawl. They cut their baby teeth on Bill Gates’ thick dome and Larry Ellison’s faux zen. They wear desktop mentality like a high-powered weapon, meaning they have always held a closed platform view with proprietary application development policies. The only thing that has changed is that they have gotten big enough to matter. Beyond Apple’s platform view, rumblings of Apple’s discontent with Adobe have been reported as early as January 2010. In a Wired article, Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, reportedly said this of Adobe: “They are lazy. They have all this potential to do interesting things but they just refuse to do it . . . Apple does not support Flash because it is so buggy. Whenever a Mac crashes more often than not it’s because of Flash. No one will be using Flash. The world is moving to HTML5.”
It’s Your Move, Playa:
With all the furor over the Apple / Adobe rift, it’s easy to forget that there are other players in the Mobile Device and Applications Development Platform business. The two biggest are Google and Microsoft. Like Adobe, Google has also recently entered the Application Development market. Like Apple, they have introduced their own operating system and mobile platform, Web OS, which runs on the Android phone. Unlike Apple, Google is utilizing an open platform strategy. Their goal is to lure programmers away from Apple by offering openness and flexibility in opposition to Apple’s proprietary control. There are very few limitations on Google’s Android phone, and developers are free to develop apps any way they choose.
Finally, there’s Microsoft, which has been competing with Adobe Flash through their Silverlight product. Microsoft has also been competing with Apple and Android in the mobile phone and Appliance Device markets.
A good fight is fun to watch, but Who Wins?
It’s a geek throw-down, but don’t get caught up in the drama. For the rest of us, the focus should be on the marketplace. GetJar statistics shows 6 major leaders in the mobile phone market: Nokia, Sony-Ericsson, Samsung, LG, BlackBerry, and Motorola. Combined, the top 6 command 80.53 % of the market as of April 6, 2010. Nokia has nearly 51.99% of the market, almost 40% over Sony-Ericsson, the number 2 player, which has 13.08% market share. The iPhone only has 0.1% of market. Google has less than 0.01% of the market.
As for the Application Development market, or as it is now called in the web age, the Rich Internet Application market, it’s all about adoption rates, and according to Stat Owl, Flash has the full support of the marketplace with an adoption rate of 96.11%. Oracle’s Java is in second place with an adoption rate of 79.14%. Microsoft’s Silverlight is in third place with a 47.25% adoption rate.
This is a fight over which tool kit developers are using to develop applications, particularly mobile applications. With the iPhone, Apple created a new beast. It is not one thing or another. It is a personal device that does a lot of what people want it to do. That’s why it’s such a phenomena. It is a category all its own with integrated music, movies, phone, notes, etc. With its Apps store, Apple has made it’s platform the “gold rush” for developers trying to become programming millionaires. It’s an opportunity unlike anything seen since Microsoft was minting millionaires in the early 80′s. To develop Apps for Apple, you have to learn Objective-C, but that’s not the real problem. The real problem is that the only thing you can do with Objective-C is what Steve Jobs wants you do to with Objective-C. Adobe called foul on this totalitarian view, ostensibly for the sake of their hard-earned 96.11 % market share.
So who wins? Microsoft. Here’s why…
Why Microsoft Wins:
In the Application Development Tools Market, Microsoft is already the winner and has been for a decade. They dominate the desktop operating system market, and business applications tools development. Adobe and Apple have always been playing catch up to Microsoft in the applications development market. Granted, Microsoft fell behind when Apple leapfrogged them with both their music player and their phone / mobile operating system. They also fell behind Adobe when Adobe leapfrogged them with Flash, allowing non-programmers to build business and marketing applications. However, Microsoft has been coming on really strong over the last year on a number of fronts.
Microsoft Silverlight is in the 4th year of development, it’s now a viable development and user platform that blows Flash out of the water. Adobe has been playing catch up to Microsoft since 2008 because of the advances in Silverlight version 3, and now 4.0. Adobe has been struggling to deliver an integrated “Managed Code” development environment.
In terms of the mobile devices, Microsoft is a huge winner with the introduction of the Ford Sync product. Also, Microsoft is just announcing their all new Windows Phone 7 platform that will run on Nokia, Sony-Ericsson, Samsung, and LG phones. This means that Microsoft will be in a position to dominate the mobile phone OS battle because they’ll have their operating system on the phone manufacturers which currently dominate 80% of the market.
Microsoft’s new Windows Phone 7 OS allows you to play music and video, and run applications, just like the iPhone. Plus, it runs on a Silverlight-based operating system for a rich internet application experience. The Windows Phone 7, Silverlight OS, allows for codecs and DRM encoded streaming media, animation, motion sensing, multi-touch interface, location awareness, and push notifications. In other words, it has every feature the iPhone has and several new ones.
One other thing: Windows Phone 7 also has support for high performance gaming through the Microsoft XNA framework. XNA is a game development platform that will allow developers to build very complex interactive games for mobile devices. The XNA framework also allows users to interact via their Xbox Live account for multi-player gamer experiences.
Apple, Adobe, and Microsoft all have huge releases coming out this month. While Apple and Adobe are fighting about Flash iPhone Applications and trying to get Flash to play on the iPhone and iPad, Microsoft is quietly leapfrogging them both. I believe that Microsoft will emerge as the ultimate winner of the Application Development Platform of choice.
For the record, I own 4 iPhones, I have 3 Macs, and 4 PC’s. I had a Windows Mobile Smart Phone until the iPhone came out, then I converted.
Do you agree or disagree? I’d love to hear your thoughts.