That being said, I can't say that I agree with most of it. Indeed, I feel like James is missing the point and misrepresenting the point of view of well-respected members of the Objective-C community by cherrypicking individual tweets. The fact is, I agree with both tweets referenced in his blog post, even though they come off as a little crass and even elitist without context and given that the authors had only 140 characters to make a point.
To highlight my main difference with James' opinion, let me respond to his concluding paragraph that he seems to think no reasonable person could have a problem with, and tell you my problem with it:
It boils down to this: if MonoTouch and Adobe’s Applications for iPhone platform are no good, they will die. Developers who use them will sell fewer apps in the App Store. Objective-C developers will carry on developing apps in their preferred style and creating apps that sell well. But if the rival techniques are sound, everyone gets to write great iPhone apps, and the result is happy users, and an even wider adoption of the iPhone platform.Here's the key point missed. It doesn't boil down to that. If MonoTouch and Flash for iPhone are no good, they won't die for a reason James himself pointed out earlier in the same posting: the users don't know or care how the application was created. If MonoTouch and Flash applications are slow and crash or use gobs of memory or break under future versions of the iPhone OS, the end users aren't going to take away a negative impression of Adobe or Novell, they're going to think "Apple Sucks". They're going to blame the iPhone. It will affect the users' opinion of the individual developer, sure, but first and foremost it's going to affect the users' opinions of the iPhone as a platform.
I'm pretty sure Apple will have a problem with that. If one app sucks, it's no big deal. If there are hundreds or thousands of apps that all break or perform poorly, that's going to impact the overall perception of the iPhone.
I, personally, have a problem with a developer who feels entitled to be able to develop for a platform without investing the time to learn the language or frameworks that platform was built around. Languages affect design. Objective-C has greatly affected the design of the iPhone application frameworks and, indirectly, the experience of iPhone users. If you can't be bothered to learn that, to understand the iPhone experience completely, that tells me that you just want a piece of the pie. You see something that's been phenomenally successful, and you want to be able to take advantage of Apple's success to make some fast money, but you're not willing to understand at even a superficial level the engineering that underlies that success.
This is vitally important on an embedded device. On a desktop computer, we can tolerate Flash because we have crazy fast processors, gobs of physical RAM, and full virtual memory. On the iPhone, the processors speeds are about ten years behind the desktop, we have a fraction of the RAM, and volatile memory won't get paged out to swap, so memory use and processor use are vitally important. Yet I should be "okay" with someone who wants to develop for the platform and is either ignorant or cavalier about these things? I don't think so.
A few paragraphs earlier, James says
Like me, many developers will welcome the chance to learn a new language and a new platform But many will just want to write an app and get it into the hands of their users as quickly as they can. (emphasis mine)Exactly. That's exactly what I have a problem with. Getting an app into a users hands as quickly as possible is not a virtue. Getting an app to the user when it's done, and good, and well-tested, and performing well is. I don't want this mentality. I want developers like Snappy Touch, who obsess over the user experience. I want developers like Imangi, Flipside 5, Tim Haines, and the countless others who cared enough to dive in and learn the platform, learn the language and tools, and deliver great user experiences on the iPhone despite having to learn to do it. I want developers who care. Developers who care, care enough to use the right tools and invest time learning about their platform and about the users of that platform.
Part of the iPhone's success is exactly because there is an obstacle to entry for developers. It's not insurmountable, in fact it's pretty darn low, but it has tended to keep out the worst of the opportunists and hammer developers, and that's been a good thing. It's not a perfect environment, but it is pretty awesome, and it's a darn sight better than it would be if flooded with people who can't be bothered to learn a bit about the platform that they want to milk for all it's worth.
Here's another thought. Even with just Xcode and Objective-C available for building iPhone apps, the app review team at Apple is completely swamped and overrun and has a very difficult job. Do you think flooding the app store with iPhone ports of every crap Flash game in existence is going to help that situation? Hell no. It's going to make the situation so much worse. Now, try and tell me with a straight face that that isn't going to happen the second Flash 5 is released to the public. Of course it is. Every Flash developer is going to raid his or her portfolio for stuff they can quickly throw up on the App Store to try and make a quick buck.
Yeah, gosh, how could anybody not want that? That will make things so much better for iPhone users.
I don't know what Apple's going to do, but if it were me, I would let Adobe know, in no uncertain terms, that Flash apps are not welcome on the App Store and that Flash developers are more than welcome to come learn Objective-C and Cocoa Touch. If I were Apple, I'd be pretty darn annoyed at Adobe's insistence and willingness to resort to borderline unethical behavior to steal a piece of the iPhone and App Store pie, and I would take steps to protect the quality of the user experience on the iPhone, even drastic steps if necessary.
But, I'm not Apple, so only time will tell.