Greedy Adobe to put profits before developers?

! Warning: this post hasn't been updated in over three years and so may contain out of date information.

At the time of Adobe MAX last year, I wrote a post on the subject of AS3-based apps for the iPhone. Two things caught my attention at the time. First, it would be possible to use a Windows-based PC to develop iPhone apps. Secondly, Adobe would be releasing a version of the AIR SDK that contained the tools needed to build these apps. If you read the post now, and follow the links to the Adobe FAQ, you’d be forgiven for wondering what I was on about. The FAQ makes no reference to the AIR SDK, and instead says “The primary tool for developing iPhone applications using Flash will be Adobe Flash Professional CS5. We are also looking at adding this feature to other Flash Platform tools and technologies.”

Before you conclude the excitement got the better of me and that I simply imagined the bit about the AIR SDK, consider exhibit A: Mark Doherty. On his own blog, he states “The Packager isn’t a Flash Pro feature, it can ship with other products and is largely formed of open source code.” And at FlashBrighton recently he explained the technical process, which involves generating an AIR executable, then passing those files through some tools that turn it into the iPhone app. To see and hear this for yourself, select the Aral Balkan and Mike Doherty talk at and fast forward to the 1 hour, 8 minute point.

So why does the FAQ not reflect this? And why does Adobe – with the exception of Mark – only talk about Flash CS5 with respect to iPhone apps? There seems no technical reason for the FAQ to talk vaguely of “…looking at adding this feature to other Flash Platform tools and technologies”, when the tools do not need Flash CS5. My worry here is that the money men of Adobe have won out against the technical folk. CS5 directly makes money for Adobe, whereas the AIR SDK doesn’t and so from a short-term money-orientated perspective, it makes sense to restrict these tools to those that buy Flash CS5. And those that have no use for Flash CS5 be damned.

Hopefully, I’m completely wrong here and the iPhone-supporting AIR SDK will be released at the same time as CS5. If not, it occurs to me that the CS5 license will require careful reading. Why? Well, if the iPhone tools are independent of CS5 and the license doesn’t prevent it, it may well be possible to obtain the tools for free. I’m thinking in terms of downloading the trial of CS5 to get the command line tools as they may work unrestricted and independently of any time restriction on the Flash CS5 drawing tool.

Clearly there is a lot of speculation here. We’ll know for sure soon when CS5 is released.

5 thoughts on “Greedy Adobe to put profits before developers?

  1. With the open standards crowd jumping on every opportunity to rip on Adobe, a move like this would give them a lot of anti-Flash ammo.

    Hopefully Adobe sees that they’ll make a lot more money in the long run with the good relations a free iPhone packager would give them with the developer crowd.

  2. @Mike,

    I completely agree with you. There is a huge developer market there for Adobe to tap into, but they seem so designer-focused, they seem to struggle with developers.

  3. Hi David,

    We do have plans to make the Packager for iPhone (currently it’s a preview only) available in other tools, this time Flash Pro took priority.

    In Christian Cantrell’s multi-platform demo you can see that he’s using Flash Builder to create his iPhone and iPad apps.

    Patience please 🙂


  4. @Mark,

    Thanks for taking the time to respond. What are the time scales for supporting other tools? Just how patient must we developers be?

  5. @Mark,

    Thanks for taking the time to respond. What are the time scales for supporting other tools? Just how patient must we developers be?

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