iPad an Impediment to Document Innovation
Here is an excerpt of Apple’s licensing limitations:
3.3.2 An Application may not itself install or launch other executable code by any means, including without limitation through the use of a plug-in architecture, calling other frameworks, other APIs or otherwise. No interpreted code may be downloaded and used in an Application except for code that is interpreted and run by Apple’s Published APIs and built-in interpreter(s).
From this we learn that rich, interactive document formats that require scripting must use a language that is already available on Apple’s devices. If that language is not good enough or not tailored to the environment (e.g. 3D scripting) then you are out of luck. If another manufacturer were to have similar rules but supported different languages (e.g. VBScript) then making a cross device/platform document solution would not be allowed.
Apple is essentially killing these formats on their devices, which means the formats are no longer universal. The only workaround is for the formats to avoid interpreted code, which is limiting as well as impossible to do retroactively on already widely used formats (though, as the person responsible for digital signatures in Acrobat, I will cheekily point out that I’d have welcomed a less-interactive version of PDF that was more stable when signed).
Some argue that the iPad is open because it supports native apps. I hope I am showing you that this is not a wide open field for those native apps. The apps being written are mainly lighter weight apps and tend not to be innovative platform applications on the scale of iTunes, Acrobat, Excel or a browser (note the emphasis on mainly and tend).
What we had all hoped for in the mobile market is that these devices would adopt the open PC model. That partially happened with Apple allowing a play-by-Apple-rules set of apps onto mobile. This was so much better then what existed before. Unfortunately what we are seeing is Apple’s not-quite-open mobile model being extended to the PC. This is a scary vision.