I’ve not said anything on the Apple Store policy change restricting developers to certain toolsets. To be honest, it doesn’t affect me directly. I don’t own an iPhone or iPod touch or iPad. I’m not a Developer. I don’t use Adobe tools much. But I am following it out of intellectual curiosity. I can see both sides, and see the merits of arguments on both sides. I like the idea of Adobe making it easier for developers to create great applications. Or even just making it easier for someone to become a developer. I like the idea that Apple is setting standards for apps, and that I can expect some measurable level of quality by not having ported apps.
To quote John Gruber of Daring Fireball,
“That’s exactly what’s going on. Apple is testing whether a tightly controlled and managed app console platform will succeed or fail based on its own merits, as determined by customers. There are different levels of competition. Apple has made its choice about how it wants to compete, and there’s nothing Adobe can do about it — other than proving Apple wrong by shipping compelling excellent software for Android.” (daringfireball.net…)
Except that this isn’t testing. We’ve seen this before. Tons of times. On almost every game platform out there. 20 years ago games had to be up to snuff to get a Nintendo Seal of Quality. And games were developed using official developer toolsets. That were produced by Nintendo. And that’s not to say that a Developer couldn’t try to create a game some other way, but I’d be willing to guess that road didn’t work so well. Sony did the same thing with games on its consoles. Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised of Atari worked that way. And we’ve all seen complaints about games that are poorly ported from one console to another – cases where the graphics and sound don’t take advantage of the capabilities of the platform, or where a game simply dumps some portion of content because the discs don’t hold the same quantity, or some platforms have a built in hard drive and others don’t, etc.
So a large part of the conflict comes from the perception of the iPhone. A lot of people, developers especially, are viewing it as a mini-computer. And from their perspective, it kind of is. It runs a modified OS X Darwin system, it uses fairly standard Objective-C, and it is a fairly accessible system to developers, and it lends itself to a wide range of unique applications. Game consoles tend to, well, run games, and not much more. Now, if you start thinking of the iPhone as a console, it works better. Limited channels of production and distribution, which, to be honest, is still more than cell phones of yore (where everything came -only- from the manufacturer), restricted access to hardware (funny how no one really complains about protected memory in the modern OS), and capabilities that vary from device to device. And as Gruber points out, if you want a platform that behaves very much like a computer platform, there’s always Android – which has an even wilder future in front of it if the hardware platforms keep forking the way they’ve been doing lately.
Originally published at lebor.net. You can comment here or there.