Wednesday, March 11, 2009

iPhone vs. Flash Player smackdown

Developing for the closed iPhone ecosystem is similar in many ways to Flash development. The graphics capabilities alone make it a superior platform. It doesn't have to be that way. I'm proposing three bold moves that would enable Flash to extend it's current lead in the RIA space and attract even more developers to the platform.

1) Explicit 3D graphics card support
Adobe can sandbox it all they like, but access to native high speed 3D rendering is one of the things that is making the iPhone such a hot platform. All that is really needed is to be able to pass on projection matrices, interleaved vertex buffer data, lighting and material settings to a graphics card and let it do it's thing. Make it detectable so developers can have a fallback if it's not available. Instantly web games become 1000% more possible.

2) A Javascript bridge a mile wide
ExternalInterface can get you where you need to go, with a lot of effort. Can you make it easier for us Adobe? I've taken the FABridge code, fixed some bugs (try passing the string \" from JS), and enabled the EarthBrowser plugin to be completely scriptable in Javascript. If Adobe could sit a few people down and nail down support for all browsers (including using VBScript to fake property getters and setters in IE7) then you could in effect create any Flash app completely in Javascript. This would open up a whole new world of possibilities for developers to create on the fly code that wouldn't have to be precompiled into a SWF. This would be HUGE.

3) An app store like iTunes
Along with great hardware, sleek design and serious developer tools the iPhone has a way for developers to monetize their creations. Adobe should do this for AIR apps and Flash plugins. Make a marketplace of website widgets and AIR apps that can be purchased for a few bucks. I have to administer my own servers and integrate a purchasing system with credit card companies, renew and manage a https certificates and deal with a lot of technical support not directly related to my software. It is a very small percentage of developers that are willing and able to spend the kind of time and money that it takes in order to sell stuff online. Apple has managed to create a system that does all of the heavy lifting of e-commerce and takes a healthy 30% cut for itself, but it's worth every percentage point.

Adobe has a spectacular platform that has a lot of room to grow. Flash market penetration is unreal and it is time for Adobe to get out of their overly cautious mindset and really create something new to help us developers create. Hire me, I'll direct the development.


Anonymous said...

I totaly AGREE with you Matt about an "Adobe App Store"

That would be so easy and GREAT!

komodor said...

how fresh ideas you have :)

1. flash has support for 3d accelerators

2.. if you can use it, there is more or less good cooperation with js - in and out

3. there is exchange at, where you can buy half and there is other place, where you can find air apps

so, i understand there is not everything perfect, but sorry, you are discovering full colonized america

good luck

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