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Apple likely to refuse Flash on iPhone?

updated 09:45 am EST, Tue November 18, 2008

iPhone Flash a no-go?

The iPhone is unlikely to carry Flash even if its hardware technically supports it, a report claims. Although Flash is in widespread use on the Internet, running everything from animation to full applications, Wired notes that section 3.3.2 of the iPhone SDK specifically prohibits the downloading and use of interpreted code in apps, unless the APIs and interpreters are already preloaded. This by definition bars third-party plug-ins, whether from Adobe or any other developer.

Apple is moreover said to have a vested interest in blocking Flash, as while existing web applications are fairly limited, Flash is powerful enough that it could draw business away from both the App Store and iTunes' music and video sections. Apple may feel particularly threatened by sites such as Hulu, which lets people watch ad-supported movies and TV shows through Flash.

It is argued that the only version of Flash iPhone owners may see in the future would be equivalent to Flash Lite, stripped down to essential functionality. This could however be a necessity, as Flash does risk draining memory, battery and processing power. Flash is also a notorious for periodic security holes, which would only add to Apple's troubleshooting concerns.

In spite of this Adobe is known to be working on a version of Flash for ARM processors, which would theoretically allow the technology on iPhones with Apple's permission. The difficulty is that Apple CEO Steve Jobs has insisted on providing more functionality than Flash Lite, but with similarly low demands.

by MacNN Staff



  1. PookJP

    Joined: Dec 1969


    This is getting old

    For something that trumpets itself as an internet browser, Safari on the iPhone is unable to view a shocking amount of the modern internet.

  1. danledingham

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Time will tell

    If Adobe wasn't moving forward with developing a mobile Flash, Apple could possibly feel safe that web developers would increasingly develop iPhone/Touch optimized sites as alternatives to their main Flash based sites. Mobile browsing on other mobile platforms would help encourage this as well.
    Unfortunately for Apple, Adobe is moving forward with mobile Flash and if Apple's competitors adopt it there will be less pressure on web coders to create non-flash mobile versions. Apple may find itself having a difficult time explaining to potential buyers why they can't surf Flash sites on the iPhone while they can on a Blackberry, etc.

  1. dagamer34

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Mobile Safari

    Let's let Apple fix Mobile Safari before Flash adds another "bag of hurt"

  1. ajhoughton

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Flash is a pointless nuisance most of the time anyway. As others have said before, it's a good thing that the iPhone doesn't support Flash. It'll encourage people to use alternative solutions that don't rely on a third-party plug-in, and as an iPhone user I don't particularly want sites draining my phone battery just so that they can do some sort of silly animation that was probably secondary to the point of the site anyway.

  1. Recto Bold

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I'm so sick of this now. The iPhone is trumpeted as this revolutionary device, whereby we have the web with us wherever we go, yet with so much of the useful stuff on the web being Flash based, Apple has deigned that we aren't able to view it. We can't use MMS (ridiculous), we can't see Flash - The company have now become the corporate monolith that they themselves were apparently trying to smash in the 1984 SuperBowl commercial. I'm fed up with seeing good products, crippled and over controlled to the point of it being ridiculous. I can deal with it on the iTMS and iPod, but when basic functionality and usability is compromised it's just gone too far.

  1. Loren

    Joined: Dec 1969


    H.264 is in Flash 9

    Adobe adopted it this year in the Flash architecture. That codec is huge and blows YouTube wide open. The least Apple can do is return the favor!

  1. ZinkDifferent

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Invariably, the ones complaining incessantly about the lack of Flash (touting such verbiage as 'modern internet' and 'real internet' only being complete with Flash), are also the ones most clueless about Flash, or belonging to the lowest common denominator of users (you know, the kind that insists flashy animated adverts are somehow 'cool').

  1. Athens

    Joined: Dec 1969


    cry babies

    I can only think of one site that is not working for me because of the lack of flash. Most good sites are coded to work with flash and with out flash. You just get a broken lego cube picture on some parts of the site. Personally I don't miss it because I don't have to see all the ads on sites any more.

  1. ggirton

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Whenever Adobe adds multi-touch and accelerometer events to Flash, it might be more of a conversation. The "must be a resident plug-in" objection is meaningless -- the player could always be made resident.

    In the meantime, you can't do everything in Flash that you can do on the phone. So, adding Flash adds the ability to play back free or advertising-carrying games that don't go through the Apple app store, but aren't going to be as good interactively? I see a lose-lose situation for Apple to accept flash in its current form.

    My guess would be Adobe and Apple would both like to work together (whether they are or not is another story) to get an improved flash player onto a future iPhone.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Couldn't users just have the OPTION to install it if they want? Oh, right, this is Apple, where they decide what you want (BTW, how come no one is mentioning that Quicktime is supported, so doesn't this basically point to Apple trying to push more people to their software and away from their rivals?)

    And I like the attitudes.

    "Let's just keep it off because those who want it must be idiots, and those who don't know it is only used for ads, and there is no way to do animated ads without flash, so its like ad blocking."

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