The App stores are madness… but I see the method in them.

Just posting this so in the annuls of time there’s a marker to look back at and realise at what time the “open web” died (give or take a year).

With all this hullabaloo regarding HTML5 (and it’s associated technologies, whatever they are on any given day) we’ve somehow managed to remove the single best thing from the web, that allowed unified and immersive experiences, across browser and platform.


Flash is dead. There I said it.


As a Flash developer of the past 13 years (I’m now calling myself a Creative Technologist… whatever that actually is ;-) that’s obviously an extraordinarily hard thing to say. And it’s not because I’ve invested so much of my time into learning it, but because there quite simply isn’t anything to replace it.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to give the bird to all those fuckwits that have rallied around HTML5; thinking it’s the way forward with it’s complete mish mash of javascript frameworks, incompatibile CSS3 and general performance inadequacies.

You idiots.

Do you realise what you’ve done…? Of course you don’t, you’re too busy learning how to cobble together 17 different javascript frameworks to work in a quasi-cohesive manner (in Chrome 34).

You’ve inadvertently allowed the complete opposite of what it is you have supposedly set out to achieve; a truly unified open web. With standards that pervade across browser, device and platform. For the only standard you see, was Flash.

I joined the fray back in the day when the big boys at the time (Netscape and Microsoft) battled for dominance. I really cannot believe we’re right back where we started from, but this time with even more fragmentation and hackery than the first time around.


Which brings me to my point (via a shed load of vitriol): As Flash is now dead, and the open web is dead (or dying) in parallel,  we’ve somehow managed to get ourselves into quite a bind.

With the stranglehold that Apple and Google have over the mobile landscape (I’ll leave Microsoft out of this… for now), where is the incentive for them to push the web forwards, given the fact that they can’t monetise it.

This chart from provides fairly damming evidence that the new breed of big boys (Apple and Google) have no intention of providing a unified web for users or developers. Why would they though, and risk cannibalising one of their biggest revenue streams.

So I ask that everyone (consumers and developers alike) open their eyes up to the reality of what’s happened the last couple of years. And that is that we’ve traded something that was free, expressive and ubiquitous for something that involves choosing one closed platform over another. And having to pay for the “privilege” of doing so.

If that’s not madness, then I don’t know what is.


P.S. I’ll be writing a follow up post to this, suggesting a way forwards for the Flash/Air ecosystem.

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7 comments on “The App stores are madness… but I see the method in them.
  1. Bill Brown says:

    I completely agree with you.
    With Adobe’s latest Flash roadmap whitepaper ditching Flash Next in favour of a web-based virtual machine, I’d say the writing’s on the wall. Even if Adobe can miraculously create all the functionality of Flash on top of a wobbly open stack of WebGL/JavaScript/CSS/etc, there’s no way the big boys are going to produce browsers that perform as well as native or plugins.

    Looking forward to your post about the Flash/Air ecosystem.

  2. Disgruntled Customer says:

    Even worse is that the fuckwits at Adobe are now drinking the HTML cool aid. Thing is they aren’t bothered about whats the best platform for developers, they are bothered about where they can make the most money selling tools.

  3. Flash and AIR is still a powerful approach for general-purpose cross-platform apps. Not only Games and Video. Adobe’s own Touch Apps for example. HTML5 just isn’t capable of doing anything like that. I’m up-to-speed on HTML5, PhoneGap, etc. It’s just not there in terms of cross-platform consistency, features, or performance.

    My worry is that the development of AS3 has been interrupted, as well as the future in AS”next”. Mutli-threading, Language enhancements, and Faster Execution, etc.

  4. Jason Langdon says:

    Right now I’m more concerned about the inability of Adobe to commit to supporting Microsoft’s App store ecosystem with Air and the complete lack of explanation for the back flip.

    Google’s PPAPI Flash implementation coupled with the push towards blocking all plugins by default is also of concern for the Flash platform.

    As I type this I’ve got a C++ tutorial open and CodeBlocks running… it’s an interesting time to be a Flash/AS3 dev that’s for sure ;-)

  5. Brendan says:

    Yes we were all screwed over. And are still being screwed over, even Opera just abandoned their engine to support webkit. The problem is that we are either building apps and websites for utility or games. And the big boys are taking care of the utility for us. Content will be king no matter what the medium or programming language or platform. A great game, software that makes life easier, blah! I have just finished a starling game and air was mobile was great so flash isn’t completely dead. NME gives you the chance to try something new without killing yourself with c++. And the performance is astounding

  6. Jason Langdon says:

    To be honest, Opera abandoning their engine and picking up WebKit I actually see as a win for unifying “standards”. I hope Google Chrome hits 90% penetration so we can cease and desist with the cross browser madness that is now revisiting all the Flash developers that thought they’d put it behind them (7 years ago now for me).

    I’ve been using Starling for the last 6 months now, and am impressed with the results I’ve seen on the iPad 2. Bit of a different workflow to the normal DisplayList, but I’m happy to adapt if I can continue to use a (dare I say it) professional programming language to get the job done.

    Funnily enough I’ve also been looking at C++ (and Object C, C#, GWT, Dart, Xamarin, Titanium, PhoneGap et al) and nothing really compares to the ease of workflow and ability that we have to be creative with Flash and it’s prevalence on the desktop browser as well as the ability to get it onto mobile devices via Air (and TV’s too). Oh well, obviously that’s all for naught… though I really don’t understand why we’re being forced down the path we’re all being forced down.

    I saw a great comment today regarding HTML5 – it’s only good if you’re comparing it with HTML4 :-)

  7. As a flash/air developer i’m booked more than ever and i have to turn down projects.

    These statements are misleading man, and contribute to create problems to fellow flash developers.

    Flash offers too many financial advantages in the app/gaming world to be ignored by clients. It will take a bit more time to obscure Steve Jobs lies with reality. But your post doesn’t help.

    Good luck for your new career.


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