Of course, Adobe can sue Apple – if you can file a $54 million dollar lawsuit for some lost pants, certainly, Adobe can sue Apple … but Adobe will lose.
The most obvious precedent is that if you sell a device, you have EVERY LEGAL right to decide what ‘software’ runs on it – the most obvious example are video game consoles. You must get a right a license for the right to put it on their format disc. Microsoft, Sony & Nintendo has to APPROVE your game before its available for sale. In the cartridge days, you actually had to submit the code for them to convert it onto a chip – further controlling distribution. Even your DVD player does NOT play every 5″ format available and is usually REGION-LOCKED. But all of this is plainly announced and shown so YOU decide whether you agree or NOT agree to buy this device.
Drilling down deeper, Apple might have many motives to not wanting Flash or Flash-based programming on its devices – some of it is technical, some of it security, some of it logistical and perhaps even personal but that does NOT matter because it is NOT illegal.
It would be anti-competitive and possibly illegal if Apple owned the C (or more specifically Objective C) programming language or HTML5 and insisted you use their proprietary language but that is NOT the case here. Both Objective C and its variants and HTML are not owned by one company AND Apple does not sell any programming applications – you are free to use any software to encode your iPhone app as long as it’s in Objective C or HTML. Any argument about being anti-competitive simply doesn’t even pass the basic test.
If anything, Adobe is testing the boundaries of irony here – they are insisting that Apple include their PROPRIETARY programming language on an Apple device – and they are the only company selling programming applications for Flash (or anyone selling Flash programming kits has to license Flash from them). Apple does not insist you buy any programming language they own nor do they even sell a programming application specific to Objective C or HTML.
To put it more plainly, Abobe is saying – don’t use an open language, use ours which we own the programming shell, application and language.
So, good luck getting any headway on a lawsuit – unless they are planning on suing Apple because Apple is being mean to them.
It should also be mentioned that consumers do not really care. They care that they get to see videos or play mini games at work but do they really care that Flash is the shell? No. Maybe Adobe should have done a better job of branding so people would insist on it but now, too late.
Bottom line – to the consuming end of the internet, Flash pretty much means nothing. If a video doesn’t come up, people just presume their company blocked it or it’s not loading correctly. And if it’s not available to play on YouTube, all you have to do is search for another video site. Flash games were once much more important as most people cannot load apps at work and certainly not games so Flash served its purpose in allowing people to play casual games but now, smartphones are taking that over – especially the iPhone.
Or the worst case scenario – a Flash site requires an OPT OUT or SKIP INTRO on the front page? Like spam email? Nice association. Think about that, it’s so annoying it requires a SKIP THIS CRAP button – kind of like those grifters standing in front of a retail store blocking the sign that reads NO SOLICITING ON OUR PROPERTY. Flash is ‘that guy.’
Again, since Adobe never really bothered to do any branding – that’s the price you pay for not bothering with a basic tenement of business. On the consumer end, Flash means a guy in red tights who runs, really, really fast.
Part of it is Adobe posturing in hopes that Apple comes to the negotiating table … anyone really thinks saying or actually suing Apple is going to make Apple change its mind? Anyone?
Programmers have a vested interest – they have spent thousands of hours learning a proprietary language only to learn that going forward, it is incompatible with a leading edge device – of course, they are going to complain so good luck with that. But 100 million using ipads/iphones & touch do not really care and when the VP of Marketing wonders why their website has a big whole, as a third party vendor or product manager, you really going to explain that Apple is being mean to Adobe or are you actually going to make sure YOU don’t look like an idiot to that VP by making sure it looks correct on their iPhone?