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Jobs, Adobe: Future of iPhone flash a mystery

updated 09:20 am EST, Wed March 5, 2008

Future of iPhone Flash

Flash support for the iPhone should not be expected anytime soon, Apple CEO Steve Jobs has indicated. Addressing people at yesterday's shareholders meeting, Jobs insisted that Adobe's current Flash player for cellphones, Flash Lite, is insufficient for his goals. The iPhone needs something comparable to what can be run on notebooks and desktops, but this runs too slowly on Apple's cellphone processor, according to Jobs. "There's this missing product in the middle," he says. "It just doesn't exist. We enjoy a good relationship with Adobe."

Jobs adds that he is impressed with just the current state of cellphone technology, noting, "the fact that mobile devices can play video at all is astounding."

Adobe has yet to mention plans for Flash tailored to the iPhone, which may be necessary to satisfy Jobs, as both Flash 9 and Flash Lite 3 already support video. The company's spokesman for Internet applications, Ryan Stewart, admits that even he is in the dark regarding future iPhone plans. "No one aside from Steve Jobs has any idea if or when it's coming," he said in February. "Everyone I talk to doesn't know anything."

The Wall Street Journal observes that while Apple is not Adobe's biggest client, the addition of Flash support to the iPhone could be financially beneficial, particularly as Adobe's stock has slid 19 percent for the year. Apple and Adobe have however been experiencing strained relations in past years; Adobe at one point delayed some Mac support, and also began introducing Windows-only products. Apple, in turn, made changes to its lines that disrupted the distribution of Adobe products. The companies have since attempted to reconcile most differences.




by MacNN Staff

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Comments

  1. bobolicious

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -1

    Flash seems poor anyway..

    ...based on my numerous poor web browsing experiences, as does java... mac browsing & seeming (in) compatibility with these technologies drives me to more traditional sites, firefox browser or to competitors' websites that work...

    ...many of the 'fancy' sites seem to be so focussed on slick tech use that the info I am searching for is obfuscated or even impossible to find - and flash sites seem to load painfully slowly on dsl for me...

  1. dogzilla

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    It's About Video

    At this point - outside of a few corporate applications built on AIR, the only real irreplaceable niche that Flash holds on to is video. Flash video is a nice delivery medium, in that it's small, easy-to-use, and widely prevalent on end-user machines. No other video delivery mechanism can boast that. However, I seriously doubt that Jobs would be willing to cede control of video distribution to Adobe on the iPhone.

    Outside of video, I just don't see any use for Flash. There's very little it can do that can't be accomplished with Ajax/Javascript/DHTML (and easily now with libraries like Scriptaculous), and anyone who creates a Flash-only site nowadays is an idiot - and why would you want to enter into a conversation with an idiot or a corporation run by idiots?

  1. danviento

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    don't forget the rivalry

    While Apple and Adobe have a number of applications in the same market, their biggest head-to-head is in this emerging market of the photo apps with Aperture and Lightroom.

    Certainly, right now it's friendly competition, trying to out-innovate one another, but the two companies probably won't be walking hand-in-hand for some time.

  1. hayesk

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    re: it's about video

    "Flash video is a nice delivery medium, in that it's small, easy-to-use, and widely prevalent on end-user machines"

    Uhm... have you ever heard of QuickTime?

  1. Mac-a-Bayan

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    its not just video

    Flash is not only video but most important Flash is capable of INTERACTIVITY, plus,animation, and it is easy to develop, its light and its portability. It is great for creating quizzes,kiosks simulations and animation. Flash is now big in eCommerce, elearning and it is expected to provide a key role mLearning (mobile learning). Microsoft is even developing its own version "silver light".

  1. JonathanBadeen

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Video is least important

    It seems obvious to me that Adobe's inclusion of h.264 (apple's preferred format) into Flash 9 is a response to YouTube wanting it which is in turn a response to Apple and YouTube teaming up. Over the next year, you'll start to see all those Flash videos encoded in h.264 which means that with just an extra line or two of code a web page can give you the choice to play the vid in QT or Flash. I'd seriously give it about a year and you won't care if iPhone can support Flash video because you'll watch that Flash video in QuickTime.

    I do see there being a large need for general Flash support on the device. As much as I hate sites (including some of my own) that require the use of Flash, it is an integral part of the web and a device/browser that let's you use the "real" web must support it. I understand the processing/battery constraints though. I think they should include it anyway but make some sort of user approval/notice about running down the battery. I mean I was using flash (not video) on my Pocket PC like 5 years ago so it shouldn't be too much to ask for the iPhone to do it 5 years later.

  1. JonathanBadeen

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    good point

    mac-a-bayan makes a good point about Silverlight. I would like to see it die as soon as possible and supporting Flash on the iPhone (and not Silverlight) would put one more nail in the coffin for it's newborn Frankenstein

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    financially beneficial?

    that while Apple is not Adobe's biggest client, the addition of Flash support to the iPhone could be financially beneficial, particularly as Adobe's stock has slid 19 percent for the year.

    Right, because we know how much money Adobe gets for all those flash plug-ins being installed.

    And maybe someone should point out to the WSJ that Apple's stock has fallen 33% since the beginning of the year, so maybe Apple should hope for an Adobe bump.

    And since Jobs is the one who has apparently nixed Flash Lite for the iPhone ('not meeting his goals'?), one wonders whether he'll be the one reviewing each and every app sold through the iTMS and make sure it meets his goals too.

  1. Jonaziz

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    re:financially beneficial

    Adobe is the one who stands to lose financially if this is the first step in the anti-Flash movement. If the iPhone is the best mobile browsing experience without Flash that doesn't bode well for Adobe. The iPhone marketshare is irrelevant; it's mindshare is dominant. Less developers developing for Flash does hurt Adobe's bottom-line when those developers don't buy the next versions of Flash studio or Flex software or what have you.

    Besides, one other thing about the iPhone supporting Flash is that most of it wouldn't work anyway. The developers usually use a lot of mouse-over events and the mouse-over function has been all but removed in mobile Safari.

    Flash isn't a deal breaker and Apple wouldn't have a stock boost if Flash got bundled.

  1. 010111

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    re: it's about video

    "Uhm... have you ever heard of QuickTime?"

    Flash has a larger browser-install base than Quicktime does. Flash is mid-to-high 90% install base. Quicktime is in the high-70% / low-80%.

    of all the various web plug-ins... Flash is by far the most ubiquitous.

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