Thoughts on Flash

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Carlos Icaza, Ansca Mobile

Three years ago.

That’s right. Three years ago, nobody knew who the heck we were. I would tell people I had started a company and it was a mobile software company, and nobody had a clue as to what I was working on, let alone understand the market the way Walter and I did.

We informally started the company in mid-2008, and began the tireless hustle and sleepless nights of courting VC funding in 2009. Finally, on 09-09-09, we got funded at the tune of $1 million dollars.

That was in 2009. During most of 2010, still, nobody knew who we were. We had an abysmal website with no traffic, hardly any apps made with Corona, no active developer community, and we were burning cash just like a normal, reckless startup.

Then, in 2011, things dramatically turned around thanks to 14-year old Robert Nay of Nay Games, who created Bubble Ball. The mainstream media swarmed at the news of a kid toppling Angry Birds from their #1 perch in the App Store. Suddenly, not only was Robert in the spotlight (including a segment on Good Morning America — the first time an SDK was ever name-checked on a national morning news show), we were on the spotlight too! We were the technology that was used to defeat the fowl juggernaut, slung by a precocious teen with hardly any formal gaming and programming background.

But that wasn’t just a fluke. Later in the year, we had another Corona app, Blast Monkeys by Yobonja, hit the #1 spot in the Android Market. On top of that, the Amazon Appstore has since featured several Corona SDK apps on their store, and we’ve frankly now lost track of how many of our users’ apps have cracked Top 10 charts in app stores around the world.

Supposedly, that now has changed.

Since yesterday, I have received numerous e-mails and tweets from non-Corona developers as to how I feel as Adobe Flash finally catching up to us. Like I said, three years ago, nobody knew about Ansca or our Corona SDK. Yet today, I am receiving flack from Flash developers insisting we are now doomed, declaring that Flash is now far superior to Corona and that I surely must be crapping my pants.

C’mon, really?

So, let me get this straight: Adobe, a $3 billion dollar company with a team of about 200 developers for their Flash/AIR product line, finally catches up to us — and I’m the one who must be crapping my pants?

I think it is the other way around. I like to think of it as how a bunch of seemingly good-for-nothing rebels running a puny startup (funded to what would be what Adobe’s toilet paper budget for a week) has given the Adobe Flash team a run for its money.

And if you think we are afraid of Adobe — ha!

I used to work there, and the one thing I know is that we will outperform, outwit, and ultimately outdo Adobe.  Here at Ansca, our commitment is to our developers, and the best proof of that is how they just nominated us to the Dow Jones’ VentureWire as one of the 50 most innovative startups in the country.

Our #1 priority always will be to give our developers the best tool for the job.

We are a 15-person startup, and have gotten noticed by some of the most distinguished Flash users out there. Heck, we’re even mentioned regularly in the Adobe Compete internal mailing list, where the company executives discuss their most pressing rivals and how to better deflect them!

Adobe took nearly two years to finally catch up to us. But what do you think we have been cooking up during that time? 😉

Bring it on.


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This entry has 43 replies

  1. I am learning Corona says:


  2. Thy Toeung says:

    Rah Rah! Add a little inspiration music, and the corona logo rolling over the adobe icon, and some key snippets of this blog entry, and you’d have a pretty cool video. 😉


  3. Unckmania says:

    For the sake of our studio which is committed to Corona we hope you keep as committed to the devs as you are right now.

    Adobe is mostly looking out to not let Flash developers escape their clutches when they want to create mobile apps and i don’t think they should be getting flamed for this. They are doing what they can in the way they can to stay in the game. Apple pretty much closed the door on them when the mobile apps market was redefined by them and now they are trying desperately to get in any way they can.

    Also, some healthy criticism: You didn’t put out many “Thoughts on Flash” as your title says. 😉

  4. bvac says:

    Carlos eats thunder and craps lightning!

  5. Jacob says:

    Let me come at this from a different direction. I have been working on my Corona app for a couple of months now, and while it is near completion, I spent a week porting it to HTML5 thinking that if I could match native performance in my non-realtime game, that I could use Phone Gap/Titanium to push the game onto the App Store, and still hit markets like Facebook. So after a week of work, my conclusion was that HTML5 performance is horrible, much like that of flash, and those technologies aren’t even close to matching native speeds. (Shortly afterwards, I purchased my Corona Subscription) So sure, Adobe picked up Phone Gap, but even if they approach the HTML5 route for mobile development (as Phone Gap is just an WebKit wrapper), performance will never match that of Corona’s native code. And as everyone knows, flash performance on mobile devices is a joke. There is no good way for Adobe to break into the market, short of having Flash or Air convert to native code – which would be a huge expense, and too late into the game to make a difference.

  6. Americo Savinon says:

    Absolutely agree, good post Carlos.

  7. IronMan says:

    Wow… Adobe has 200 developers for their Flash/AIR product line and Ansca only 15 devs and have a pizza while Adobe devs try coding using Corona SDK and see if they can make somthing like Corona SDK 😀 ( kidding 😀 )…
    Well now who were the one burning cash just like a normal, reckless startup, hehehe 😀

  8. Rich says:

    Wow, how arrogant and unseemly. You just turned me off from this platform.

  9. Matt says:

    Unless I’m getting this all wrong Unreal 3 and other tech is for the PC.

    Adobe Air 3 has accelerated 3D, but on their website is says “*Initial support on personal computers and televisions.” So we don’t even know what it will perform like.

  10. Matt says:

    Judging by the features page it now has a lot of Corona capabilities, but not all.

    In fact if Ansca can get some graphical treats built in to Corona in the near future it will once again be ahead.

  11. No matter what Adobe do, Corona will always have 2 very important features that Flash will never have. Carlos and Walter.

  12. elliot says:

    Attacking other companies is not the best way to get more people to use corona, it doesn’t come accross very well. Promote you’re qualities, don’t put others down. I’m sure they could pick a fair few holes in corona if they wanted to…

  13. Josh Tynjala says:

    Shaders, like Flash’s Pixel Bender and the CSS Shaders that Adobe showed off at MAX. Corona needs them.

    Also, native extensions. This new capability in AIR 3 is pretty sweet.

  14. Vance says:

    It’s a bit ironic that Lua, the language used by the Corona SDK, is sponsored by Adobe.

  15. PaulHMason says:

    I love it! My tweet was mentioned (but I was misquoted, I never said crap). Anyhow, it was a tongue in cheek response to the regular “Flash is going to #fail #lol etc” comments from Ansca. I don’t have much time for Larry Ellison type marketing – criticising a competitors perceived weaknesses while ignoring their strengths (which are probably your weaknesses). I like Corona, but Flash is more than just an iOS/Android 2D game dev SDK – when you compete with Adobes full pipeline – Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, Flex, Catalyst, Dreamweaver, InDesign etc, which ALL target mobile in some way, then start bragging.

  16. inas says:

    Sure, Carlos. You should already know when i compare AIR vs Corona on the forum threads – there are advantage and disadvantage from both tech. Use the tech wisely. Use Adobe Air, Corona, or going full native depending on your needs.

    Now…. how about adding native extension support 🙂
    (i put a smiley so you guys will implement it sooner, ha!)

  17. Bob says:


    Everyone is open to their opinion so I have no problem with your post. But don’t miss out on a good platform over a blog entry.

  18. Lorenzo H. says:

    It took too long to Adobe to listen to their developers. The same people that made Flash so popular in the gaming world had been asking for a decent way to bring their games to iOS (leaving aside the half-assed attempts done by Adobe in this direction) for years – which is forever in the gaming industry.

    Corona listened to their customers; the things they have not added yet is because they are honestly difficult to implement and would change the platform completely, introducing also new bugs and complexity. Corona SDK is amazingly stable and well performing right now, and it is priced honestly.

  19. Is it me or even installing Air3.0 on a FL CS5.5 is a mess?

  20. Rich says:

    @Bob, I’ll use it when appropriate. I meant I was turned off, but not necessarily turned away. (I try to use the best tool for the job.) I just wish all the attitudes on all sides could be ratcheted back. Sometimes I feel like I’m in the middle of a Mac-Win/Dem-Rep/Coke-Pepsi/etc flame war. It’s all so infantile. I enjoy enthusiasm, but we don’t need to tear down.

  21. Will says:

    Nice comebacks!

    Btw, have you guys though about getting together with AppSumo and doing a limited time deal on your subscriptions?

  22. Thank you all for all your comments and for the great feedback you have provided me. I also realized how carried away I got but sometimes it is difficult to get a point across on a blog, but I guess ultimately, my point is that am very passionate about our product and our developers success.

    Being a crazy Nicaraguan, growing up in the middle of a revolution, I always see things in a different light. it is a mobile revolution we are in after all, and nothing excites me more than the passion shown by our developers and even by non-Corona developers alike.

    There is a lot of great gems in the feedback both here in the blog, twitter and personal emails and I want to thank you all for taking the time to read my crazy blog and having the time to really sit down and write a comment or two.

    And, if you think am passionately crazy, just wait until you see what we have in store for you next. Some of you know me by dropping hints on twitter. So keep an eye out for a few hints I will be dropping for some very interesting features. Perhaps, maybe, even a…

  23. PaulHMason says:

    My issue is simple – dissing someone to make yourself look good just makes you look silly and insecure. My first thought when someone does that is to think they have something to hide and are trying to deflect attention away from their own shortcomings.

    I don’t see Flash and Corona competing. Sure, they both target the 2D game market, but Flash is far more than that (and up until now I struggled to even understand why people even used Flash to write casual games, and have great respect for those that do).

    Corona is a fantastic tool for developing iOS and Android 2D games; that’s it’s strength, so stick to that and make it better. If you claim to be better than Flash then you need to be better in ALL respects (full IDE, debugging, full control over your scripting language, server side integration, full RIA support etc) The real competitors are Unity3D (okay, they’re not 2D really, but that could change), The Game Creators, Monkey/Mojo, Garage Games etc.

  24. Amen Paul!

  25. Paul Steven says:

    So Flash has in-app purchases and game center support now? It is news to me if it has..

  26. Mario says:

    These are great comments. Appreciate the views from all sides here. Keep it coming!

  27. PaulHMason says:

    @Paul Steven – apparently yes, when Flex 4.6 is released (soon) – via native extensions.

  28. Douglas Park says:

    Cheer up! I am a big fan of Corona SDK.
    So I am writing how to develop mobile apps with Corona SDK in Korean.
    Anybody who knows Korean language want to learn it, just visit my website and get it out.

    I’m always with you Corona SDK.

  29. chris H says:

    Hi I don’t use corona or flash but I come to this site from time to time, since I read about the 14 year old boy writing his game using corona , and I am still debating whether to start learning corona.

    I am NOT here to start an argument, but just for the sake of my personal education, I have one question :-

    I may be wrong, but my perception is that Corona SDK is being used mainly for games, whereas Flash is used for more than games.

    Is corona used extensively in serious commercial apps (not games related) for example banking apps ?


    • Jonathan Beebe says:

      @chris H: Due to a lot of game-centric features that Corona has, it is used a lot for games, however, there are plenty of non-game apps made with Corona, and it is certainly possible. Corona has a widget library as well as plenty of other features that would appeal to non-game apps (as well as games), such as Async HTTP and other networking capabilities, SQLite databases, native webviews, native textfields (single and multi-line).

      The rule general of thumb that I like to go by is that because games are generally more processor intensive and complex (programming wise), if an SDK is capable of producing good games, then it is more than capable of producing non-games as well 🙂

      Thanks for your comments everyone!

  30. Sheraz says:

    How can I return the CORONA I purchased 3 days ago ? A product whose sample code does not work and lacks enough feedback has no future… Please suggest how to refund my money ?

  31. PaulHMason says:

    @Sheraz What exactly isn’t working? Have you tried asking on the support forums? The samples worked for me, although I must admit I struggled a little to begin with (my fault – I just dived in without reading the support documentation), but a bit of playing around and reading the forums sorted that out.

    I’d suggest giving it a little longer to figure things out…

  32. PaulHMason says:

    @Sheraz Another thing – are you working with a stable build? Sometimes things go a bit dodgy with the daily builds, so you should always check with a stable build (and report any problems with the daily builds).

  33. goosefx says:

    I am realy new to CORONA and while I am still very exited about your SDK. But watch Adobe, because they will release Rage3D very soon for mobile devices and with the power of the Sparkling Framework (a Flash port of the fabulous Sparrow Framework) you will have a true competitor.

    BTW: What about some easy Networking for Adhoc game challenges (using Bonjour on iOS) – that’s really missing in the framework.

    Keep on the good work

  34. Mike R says:

    Personally I would say that anyone who gets Corona now is a lucky sob. They don’t have to waste half their license time learning Corona of they have difficulty with it at first and end up wishing to high heaven that the trail version had been around back then to learn first then purchase ready to develop for release.

    Yes I am sore. Yes this is about the fact it took me longer than most to get to grips with Corona. Yes my license runs out at the end of this month and I have zero way to renew the license by then.

    I am taking a huge risk and this week will be releasing our first game using Corona. Something a bit different to the norm yet familiar enough to many. 😉 I am having to test it to destruction but within the next few days I have to let it go to Apple.

    Pain in the backside as its only now I would say I am comfortable enough in Corona as it is about to run out to be able to create anything and not just concept toys. The concepts are simple the polishing is not.

    Oh and to cap it all my internet went down for hours two days in a blooming row so I could not do any machine testing with later builds because I have to build through the damned servers.

    Grumpy and frustrated. So don’t complain about Corona as you have the option to test it to your hearts content nowadays and it is by far the best language out there bar none.

    Mike (the insane one)

  35. Mark says:

    Maybe keep the blog posts to programming stuff and apps of the week?

    This year I’ve taught Corona App programming to over 100 high school kids and I have been really passionate about Corona – so have the kids

    But any more negative blog posts like this or the Flashfight ones and I’m going to find something else to teach……

  36. KR says:

    i agree with most of these comments. Dissing THE most successful interactive platform on the planet to make yours look good is rather childish. Flash may have a lot more young competitors and have ‘fallen behind’ in recent times, but it’s still more popular than Corona will ever be, because by comparison Corona is severely limited. Which, I guess, is why Carlos had to resort to hyperbole and ranting, rather than write a ‘proper’ article drawing like for like comparisons and explaining where Corona beats Flash. Corona has its uses. Flash has it’s uses. Just Flash has a lot more. And that’s coming from a Corona developer who dislikes Flash.

    Also, imho, hanging the ‘mainsteam recognition’ of Corona on the success of one 14 year old boy and an unoriginal game is an insult to everyone that has worked on Corona and everyone who has developed and published apps with it. YMMV, of course.

    Oh. And your website is still abysmal.

  37. Lee Brimelow says:

    @Carlos I think it is stupid if Flash developers are giving you a hard time. But please don’t somehow associate those statements with Adobe as that is not our view at all. There is room for multiple platforms and technologies when it comes to mobile gaming. I personally mention Corona quite a bit in my presentations as a valid option for mobile development.

    Lee Brimelow
    Gaming Evangelist, Adobe

  38. carlos icaza says:


    Thank you for your feedback and I have seen your presos where you do mention Corona as a viable option for mobile development. Thanks and great job on Molehill.


  39. PaulHMason says:

    @Lee I’m not sure how you came to the conclusion that Flash developers are giving Carlos a hard time (I’m not a Flash developer – I’m just a “developer”, I use whatever tool I feel is best suited to the job), or why anyone would associate “fanboy” type comments with Adobe… The issue was, and still is, overly enthusiastic put downs of Flash which don’t reflect the simple fact that people use Flash for more than just 2D games.

    I’m the first to admit that Corona is my first choice for writing 2D iOS and Android games – it’s a no brainer (and that’s after extensive investigations of various platforms). I did, however, almost dismiss it as a toy after reading certain Twitter comments concerning the future of Flash (I just a tool by more than just what can be done with it).

    The more options I have available the better – I’m sure the emergence of good mobile game development tools such as Corona play a part in driving Flash towards providing better gaming support (like I said, I’ve always thought that Flash is a lousy platform for developing games and I’m constantly amazed at what people manage to do with it).

    Maybe I just get touchy with all the “this is going to die”, “that’s going to die” comments all over the place – they really make life hell when non technical management types read comments like that and question platform choices etc (the downside to having too much choice).

  40. PaulHMason says:

    Typo – “(I just a tool by more than just what can be done with it)” is meant to be ” (I judge a tool by more than just what can be done with it).”

  41. carlos icaza says:

    Paul wrote a great blog follow up to this blog over at his site.



  42. Although Flash has recently added support for H.264, the video on almost all Flash websites currently requires an older generation decoder that is not implemented in mobile chips and must be run in software.