Steve Jobs and Adobe Flash: Our thoughts

The failure of business shown by global network connection in hand of businessman is broken

I wanted to provide everyone an update on the issues related to the iPhone 4.0 Terms of Service. While we have yet to receive any formal word from Apple as it relates to Titanium, this morning, Steve Jobs posted some thoughts on why Apple is banning Flash on the iPhone/iPad. The focus of the article is on making two important arguments: how to ensure a high-quality iPhone experience and the importance of using open technologies. Based on his piece, we have a few followup points as this news relates to Appcelerator Titanium.

– If there was any doubt, Apple’s specific target is Adobe Flash.

– At the crux of every one of Jobs’ points is one overriding theme: ensuring application quality. More specifically, Apple wants to make sure that applications written for the iPhone/iPad are developed using all the great features in the iPhone SDK and that they should not be developed using a lowest common denominator approach. We couldn’t agree more. Split views, popovers, cover flow views, native table views, native maps, native tab bars… There are over 2,000 methods and properties available to Titanium developers to customize their applications with almost every native Apple UI or feature imaginable. And if something isn’t in there that you need, it’s easy to extend the platform by building a native Titanium module. This extensible, native architecture is probably the reason you chose Titanium in the first place. One of the most common statements we hear about Titanium: “You built *that app* in Javascript. Wow!”.

– As it relates to adoption of new iPhone capabilities, we rev our product very quickly. In fact, next week, we’ll introduce support for iPhone 4.0 application development with Titanium 1.3.0. And we’ll continue to add new APIs as Apple finalizes the 4.0 OS. This has always been the case with our stance on updates to the underlying operating systems that we support. In all cases, we are working with Apple APIs under NDA before they’re finally available to the public and we’ll continue to do that as normal.

– Apple has a clear preference for open technologies, specifically HTML5, CSS, and Javascript. Here too, we are in alignment. Titanium developers code in Javascript as executed by the Webkit engine (eg: the kind that Apple prefers in its ToS), and web content can easily be displayed using HTML5 and CSS through a web view. We’re big supporters in these technologies and ourselves have contributed to WebKit (Martin Robinson, one of our desktop engineers, is a WebKit committer).

– We’ve had over 50 applications approved for the App Store over the past 3 weeks under the new terms (which every developer now needs to agree to). Not a single one has been rejected for being built on Titanium. We even updated our own test app, Snapost, after accepting the new terms.

In summary, Apple is targeting Flash (mission accomplished) and Apple wants to push their platform forward by having only high-quality, native applications in the App Store.

We couldn’t agree more. Native application development with open technologies is in our DNA and our continued vision for Appcelerator.

– Jeff


  1. Great posts, both on Steve’s and your parts. I’m glad to hear that things have been moving along in terms of application approval, as I was envisioning Titanium being a good stepping stone into development on my part — and I would have hated to see it take collateral damage from Apple vs. Adobe. Please keep us updated of any hiccups!

  2. But you are obviously aware that every app built with Titanium is literally in contravention of the terms of the new agreement, even if Apple is choosing not to enforce those terms for these apps at the present time. And I presume you have no written agreement exempting Titanium apps from conformance to sections 3.3.1 and 3.3.2, or you would surely announce that.

    So are you proposing that developers considering Titanium should blithely ignore the terms they have—must have—agreed to?

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Josh Helfferich, Kontra, Kontra, Appcelerator, Jeff Haynie and others. Jeff Haynie said: My thoughts on Steve Jobs Flash post this morning: #appcelerator #stevejobs #iphone […]

  4. THanks Jeff for the update and your continued efforts on this.

    Not so – don’t forget each SDK has it’s own terms.

    Also, certain terminology is lacking definition; and in its absence meaning is subject to interpretation. Appcelerator is taking the wholly logical approach and seeking clarity where it is lacking in print.

  5. Could not agree more. I love Narayen’s response that Flash is an open specification, but fails to note anything about their proprietary runtimes (Player/AIR) that use that specification.

    Sorry, I don’t want an operating system inside of another operating system.

    I keep losing respect for Adobe every day.

  6. Shouldn’t the consumer be the final judge of quality? Sure, Apple can and should enforce a high standard of quality on all fronts on software that Apple itself specifically provides, but I feel that they should provide the platform and the tools and then step out of the way.

    The way the App Store works now, Apple is the final arbiter of what the consumer puts on their iPhone in every possible way imaginable, short of jailbreaking it. For that level of control, they should be charging a rental fee instead of a purchase price for the hardware.

  7. @Albert Freeman – Apple controls and decides what is in their store, you are correct.

    Guess what… so does Walmart. So does Sears. So does Best Buy. So does Amazon. What are you saying? That Apple should run the first store in the history of commerce that doesn’t have control over the products it stocks?

    Or are you implying the people who buy iPhones are somehow blissfully unaware to the fact that you load apps on it through the app store when they buy it, and so it is unfair and mean of mean old Apple?

    To people who find the current situation objectionable, the solution is blindingly simple – buy a different smartphone & load whatever CPU crashing, battery eating junk you want on it.

    If you go on to say that you want an iPhone because its the best smartphone, then you’re missing the point – the reason its the best smartphone is because it doesn’t run junk.

    The reason it doesn’t run junk is because… oh, well, you get the idea.

  8. The difference is that Walmart/Sears/Best Buy/Amazon, etc., don’t dictate to me what I can do with my purchase after I get home (unless I want a refund). If I want to pull the lawnmower engine and drop a supercharged V8, the only thing stopping me are the laws of physics, civil & criminal law, and whatever sense of self-preservation I may have.

    And I’m free to purchase that engine from anywhere. Or any other parts I may need.

    Sure, it’s violating the warranty, but the warranty is an agreement against defective merchandise, not a EULA.

  9. @Jeff, “Languages/tools don’t make great apps. Developers and designers do.”. Not really true.

    It’s only true when the statement intends to mean: A language/compiler does not write anything by itself, they need a dev to do anything.

    An more true statement is: “Better designed Languages/tools helps developers/designers do better apps AND in less time.”

    The proof? Try this: get 2 great devs, experts in their different languages/tool. One is very proficient in Fortran/77 and the other in Delphi/2010. Ask both to write the an Agenda graphical GUI app with 3 reports accessing a PostgreSQL database. Let’s make it easier, no need to generate PDF this time. Give both the same laptop with windows XP and their tools/languages. Give them 24 hours and check the results.

  10. After deep thinking, I will stay with Titanium !

    I don´t think Apple will ever give a statment on Titanium or other 3rd party softwares, they will just seat on the TOS and will pull it out when they feel like it.

    All I know is whatever happens, Titanium´s goal is to stay on top of mobile Smart phone technologies, so whoever are the actors doesn´t matter, for me using Titanium is an insurance to have an easy to develop tool which will follow the fluctuations of the mobile software market.
    If Apple decides to stay alone, well, I will resale my Iphone and get an Android that´s all.

  11. All I can add to this is that I have had two applications approved since these new terms came out, with no issues.

    My apps run fast, look as good as any other app out there and so far not one person has noticed it is coded with Titanium and that includes users and clients I have polled.

    So far I am happy, although like everyone I would be happier if we could tie apple down, but this is apple! 🙂

  12. Same here. Two apps approved since new ToS came out. Third will come out next week. I didn’t even had iPhone 2 months ago. All thanks to Titanium and Appcelerator!

  13. The fact that Unity 3d is so confident that they are not going to be targeted by the new ToS changes, and that they actually went out and met with Apple, gives me some confidence that Titanium will be able to ride their coattails through the new ToS.

    Or the ToS will be modified to somehow allow tools like Unity 3d (and hopefully titanium), to be officially allowed, and still somehow exclude Adobe flash.

    Last possibility is that they leave the ToS in place, but they just don’t enforce it unless they feel like it, i.e. Adobe tries to push a flash-based solution through.

  14. I really like Titanium too, but unfortunately without concrete approval from Apple, it just sounds like smoking in a “non-smoking” area hoping that you will not get caught. Sure you maybe OK now, but there is no peace of mind. At this moment, I have no choice but not to use Titanium for full iPhone development.

    I will still consider using it for quick prototyping. I will also continue to use if for Android and BlackBerry app though as it is a really really great tool.

  15. It may be true that Steve Jobs is targeting Flash specifically, but after reading his note I don’t feel like Titanium is in the clear yet.

    The only way for Apple to win any anti-trust arguments is to stand firm against any application developed through code interpreters. If Apple allowed a select group of vendors, like Appcelerator, then Adobe would have a case for being singled out. My bet is they won’t make any quarantees and will choose to use their new terms as they see fit.

    My question as someone who hasn’t submitted an app yet is whether anyone can even tell that Appcelerator Titanium was used. Does it leave any references to Titanium in the code itself?

  16. Because of NDA, I can’t give any specifics at this time. Naturally, we have been in contact with Apple.

  17. I find it a little strange how Phonegap received a “clear-to-go” directly from Apple a couple of weeks ago, but the guys here at Appcelerator have been very quiet lately. We need to continue developing on the iPhone (as well as Android). If that means moving to Phonegap, then that’s where we’re going. We prefer the Titanium environment but from the silence are hear, we believe Appcelerator may have been kicked in the rear end by Apple. I mean if the guys at Phonegap got an ‘ok’ two weeks ago, why hasn’t Appcelerator already?

    • I can’t say anything about phonegap’s “clear-to-go”. No definitive information from them was provided beyond they had talked with “someone”. We’re erring on the side of caution and transparency here. We’ve had many apps approved in the past 2 weeks and no issues and we have had conversations with Apple. From what I can tell, Apple doesn’t “approve” _any_ platform outright. Apple approves apps on an app-by-app basis as always. Think about it for a few minutes. 🙂

  18. Fair enough, Jeff.
    Just wish we would hear something a little more assuring already from Apple in regards to Titanium before moving on with more iPhone/iPad development using Titanium. Has the Appcelerator team contacted Apple regarding Titanium and the ToS to see where we stand?

  19. I don’t see how any serious developer can proceed with iPhone development without having a definitive word from Apple. Yes, some Titanium applications have gotten through and more still might, but it seems that this kind of “arrangement” is a pretty shaky foundation to build a business on.

    When you get down to it, Apple’s TOS are pretty clear, and, IMO, they pretty clearly don’t allow for technologies like Flash _or_ Titanium. Imagine that you have a successfully deployed popular app built with Titanium and some competitor wants to come in and take over your turf. All it would take is for a widely read blog or other industry pundit to mention that Apple is not being ‘consistent’ with the application of the TOS wrt this app and the clearly disallowed Flash technology. Apple would probably quickly jump to correct this oversight (of course leaving so many others standing) and there go your plans. Ouch!

    Really what needs to happen here is for companies like Appcelerator and other tool vendors to band together and make Apple see this for the BS it is, and come up with reasonable terms. ‘Hoping’ that Apple will leave you alone if you tiptoe just right seems the wrong approach here.

    • Our inability to comment on these issues shouldn’t cause anyone to assume that nothing behind the scenes is happening or we’re just waiting around for something to happen.

  20. I understand the issue in communicating whilst under NDA. But do you have any idea when you’ll be able to give a formal yes/no as to whether Appcelerator apps are in the clear going forward? I love the development platform, have plenty of clients eager for apps – but am holding off because, as you must understand, it’d be irresponsible to deliver something to a client where there’s a high chance of it being pulled from the app store in the near future.

    • I understand everyone’s predicament – having invested literally $5 million dollars on the platform in total – we’re in the same boat. 🙂 The fact is that things are happening behind the scenes, Apple continues to approve apps built on our platform in large numbers and you always run the risk – without or without a platform like Appcelerator – of getting your app rejected by Apple. Believe me, we’re as frustrated as you. :!


    “Reports surfaced on Tuesday, however, that indicate Apple may tweak the terms of its iPhone and iPad application developer agreement to dodge the antitrust investigation. Details of how Apple would change the agreement to avoid the probe were unclear Tuesday.”

    Hopefully they make it clear it this time!

    This was on the front page of Google News so it’s defiantly getting the attention!

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