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Adobe this morning is making news as they announced the next iteration of Flash – version 10.1, which includes support for the expected personal computers, smartbooks, netbooks and of course… smartphones. Of the list of supported handset manufacturers… one name is (un)surprisingly missing. Apple.

Pundits around the net have long speculated (pretty much since iPhone day one) on when Flash integration would finally happen. Adobe has approached Apple and has been trying to work around the issues involved, and Steve Jobs himself has commented on the topic, saying that Flash Lite (the baby version of Flash that was initially designed to support mobile devices) "is not capable of being used with the web." It simply is not a web plugin technology and only bears fleeting relation to the desktop version of Flash, which Jobs said "performs too slow to be useful" on the iPhone.

"There’s this missing product in the middle," Jobs stated, however with the iPhone conspicuously off the supported handset list, it seems that Flash 10. 1 isnt that product.

Or is it?

Does it really matter what Adode does to Flash? Will it ever get approved on the iPhone?

Not likely – not without serious limitations or controls placed on it by Apple. Flash gives developers something that Apple does not want them to have… a platform for developing games and other applications that are browser based that fall outside of the App Store approval process, out side of Apples financial walled garden, and outside of Steve Job’s control.

Take for example the Flash game below entitled "Parking Lot 3" by Addicting Games.  A basic game that has the player trying to park their car in various positions without striking any objects. As a former resident of San Francisco, I can understand how this can be a challenge to many.

The game can be found, along with many other free, ad supported flash games, at the Addicting Games website.

parkit_flashv

To get this game on the iPhone however, Addicting games has to buy a Mac ($1,000 or so),  register as an Apple developer ($99 – $299), and get Apple’s approval before their app can be released. (This is just to develop free apps!) If they want to distribute a paid version, they then have to give 30% of all revenue to Apple.

Pretty sweet deal for Apple!

iPark It - Available in iTunes (under strict supervision)

It’s hard to believe with all the money being made by Apple because of the App Store, that anything remotely threatening its walled garden will appear on Apples multi-touch devices any time soon.

 

****Update****

At MAX 2009, Adobe showed a number of applications and games for iPhone that have been built using a prerelease version of Flash Professional CS5, set to be released in 2010 with a public beta to be released later this year. This does NOT allow developers to develop Flash programs that work in the browser, however it does provide a shell in which a Flash program can be turned into an iPhone App, complete with the regulations and constraints of the App Store.

Interestingly.. in the question and answer section of the article, Adobe uses some interesting verbiage to answer the question " Will iPhone users be able to view web content built with Flash technology in the iPhone browser?" Their answer:

"Flash Player uses a just-in-time compiler and virtual machine within a browser plug-in to play back content on websites. Those technologies are not allowed on the iPhone at this time, so a Flash Player for iPhone is not being made available today."

Not "doesnt work" , "isnt possible" or even "needs work". Its simply… "not allowed".

 

****

 

 

 


Its not a new concept that major brands have been launching their own branded iPhone apps as marketing tools and new ways for customers to interact. Beth Snyder Bulik at the Silicon Valley Insider has a great post showing some of my favorite winners and losers here.

Today Starbucks announced the release of its second iPhone app, the “Starbucks Mobile Card” app – and I’m here to shout it from the rooftops – this is one of the best uses of mobile technology in the US marketplace today.

Lets take a quick look at some of the features available on the Starbucks Mobile Card app:

1. Check your Starbucks Card balance. While this one is a no-brainer, anyone who has a gift card knows how frustrating it is to use it a few times and suddenly have no idea how much money is left on it. Most gift cards generally have a toll-free number on the back, however its a time consuming process that requires you to type in card number via touch-tone every time you need to check. With the Starbucks Mobile Card app, simply do it once, and the information is constantly at your fingertips.

Fill-Er-Up!

Fill-Er-Up!

2. Reload Your Starbucks Card: No need to be in a Starbucks store anymore to get this done – simply use any major credit card and your account is fulled back up with coffee buying purchasing power. As a brilliant marketing ploy to get consumers to start using this – Starbucks is offering a $5 bonus credit to anyone who adds more then $25 through the app the first time.

3. (And here’s where it gets interesting): Pay with your iPhone. Yeah – that’s right – at 16 test store locations, you can now use your iPhone to create a 2D barcode (looks like they are using the QR code format) that is scan-able at the store register. It makes sense that this is a limited trial – each store had to be equipped with a special scanner that is able to read the unique code off of the phone. If this is a success – its not hard to see every major brand in the country that uses gift cards coming around to implement applications like this in the near future.

Changing the way you get your fix

Changing the way you get your fix

As a general question to Apple and the iPhone development teams.. I still wonder why the integration of RFID for contactless payment systems has not been integrated into the iPhone as of yet. It would allow consumers to store their credit card information into their phones (securely) and with a wave of your phone over a special scanner, make a payment without ever getting the plastic out of your wallet.

Current the 16 stores testing the mobile payment trial are these:

  • 20520 Stevens Creek Blvd: 20520A Stevens Creek Blvd, Cupertino, CA 95014
  • 5180 Stevens Creek Blvd: 5180 A Stevens Creek Blvd, San Jose, CA 95129
  • Mountain View: 1037-C El Monte Ave, Mountain View, CA 94040
  • Shoreline & Pear: 1380 Pear Avenue, Mountain View, CA 94043
  • Castro @ High School: 750 Castro St, Mountain View, CA 94041
  • Miramonte & Cuesta: 809A Cuesta Blvd, Mountain View, CA 94040
  • Charleston & Independence: 2410 Charleston Avenue, Mountain View, CA 94043
  • 1687 Hollenbeck Ave.: 1685-87 Hollenbeck Road, Sunnyvale, CA 94087
  • Key Tower: 700 5th Ave, Seattle, WA 98104
  • Columbia Center: 701 Fifth Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104
  • 1st Interstate / Wells Fargo: 999 Third Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104
  • 40th Floor Columbia Tower: 701 5th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104
  • 7th & Stewart: 1700 Seventh Ave, Seattle, WA 98101
  • 7th & Pike: 1524 7th Ave, Seattle, WA 98101
  • University Village II: 2650 NE 49th St, Seattle, WA 98105
  • Madison Park: 4000 East Madison Ave, Seattle, WA 98112

Currently there has been no word on if Apple takes any percentage of the sale, though I find it hard to believe that Starbucks would agree to that. Then again – it is Apple we are talking about here. Traditionally in-app-purchase has been limited to paid applications (the Starbucks app is free), but utilize the iTunes billing mechanism that this app seems to circumvent.


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