Flash coming to the iPhone? I wouldn’t bet on it

Sun, Feb 1, 2009


Bloomberg recently ran a story about Adobe’s efforts to get flash onto the iPhone, and quotes Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen as saying:

“It’s a hard technical challenge, and that’s part of the reason Apple and Adobe are collaborating.  The ball is in our court. The onus is on us to deliver.”

From there, people started speculating about the extent of Apple and Adobe’s ‘collaboration’, with some already predicting a cross between Flash and Flash Light being developed and ready for the next iteration of the iPhone.  While Flash on the iPhone would be great, I remain skeptical for a few reasons.

First of all, and it might all just be a coincidence, but the word ‘collaboration’ is often used when Apple wants people to think that it’s actually going to do something when it actually won’t.  Remember the spat between Cisco and Apple over the use of the ‘iPhone’ trademark, which by all accounts actually belonged to Cicso?  Well, as part of their settlement, Apple and Cisco agreed to collaborate and cooperate on a number of issues and opportunities that, two years later, seem to have never even gotten off the ground.

Second, the App Store is fast becoming the key selling point of the iPhone, so why would Apple enable flash on the iPhone as it would only create an avenue for users to entertain themselves outside of the app store.  Why pay and download iFart if you could attain the same functionality for free from a flash app online?

Third, once you introduce flash, a number of potential problems arise that would inevitaly affect the user experience, something Apple will never compromise on.  Even if Adobe is able to clear some of the technical hurdles it faces, when happens when iPhone users trying to view a flash enabled video on the web get an error message saying that they don’t have the most recent version of flash installed?  Inevitably, they’ll attribute the ‘glitch’ to the iPhone.  Apple, as with all its products, likes to control the entire device, and loathes the idea of relying on other companies to complete part of the user experience puzzle.

Taking all of the above factors into consideration, I don’t expect to see flash on the iPhone anytime soon, even if Adobe and Apple are, in fact, ‘collaborating’.


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