Adobe Retreats In Flash Dispute With Apple

While Adobe will continue to offer its recently shipped Creative Suite 5 that includes tools for developing applications that can run on the iPhone and the new iPad device, Adobe will no longer add to those capabilities, according to a blog post by Mike Chambers, Adobe's Flash product manager.

Chambers cited Apple's restrictive licensing terms as the reason behind his company's decision. He also said Adobe would now concentrate its efforts on developing tools for mobile devices that use the Android operating system.

Adobe released CS5 earlier this month that with tools for turning Flash code into applications that can run on the iPhone OS. Flash is a popular multimedia technology for adding animation and interactivity to Web pages.

But Apple has fought against allowing what it calls proprietary code running on its mobile devices. In an update to its developer program license agreement earlier this month, Apple re-emphasized the fact that iPhone and iPad applications "may only use documented APIs in the manner prescribed by Apple and must not use or call any private APIs."

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"Essentially, this has the effect of restricting applications built with a number of technologies, including Unity, Titanium, MonoTouch, and Flash CS5," Chambers wrote in his blog. "While it appears that Apple may selectively enforce the terms, it is our belief that Apple will enforce those terms as they apply to content created with Flash CS5. Developers should be prepared for Apple to remove existing content and applications (100+ on the store today) created with Flash CS5 from the iTunes store."

While insisting that Flash CS5 complies with Apple's licensing terms and "there is no technical reason that Flash can't run on the iPhone," Chambers said Adobe is abandoning the skirmish with Apple. "We will still be shipping the ability to target the iPhone and iPad in Flash CS5. However, we are not currently planning any additional investments in that feature," he said.

"The primary goal of Flash has always been to enable cross browser, platform and device development," Chambers said. "The cool web game that you build can easily be targeted and deployed to multiple platforms and devices. However, this is the exact opposite of what Apple wants. They want to tie developers down to their platform, and restrict their options to make it difficult for developers to target other platforms."

Chambers made it clear that Adobe will now focus on mobile platforms other than Apple's. "Fortunately, the iPhone isn't the only game in town. Android-based phones have been doing well behind the success of the Motorola Droid and Nexus One, and there are a number of Android-based tablets to be released this year. We are working closely with Google to bring both Flash Player 10.1 and Adobe AIR 2.0 to these devices, and thus far, the results have been very promising."