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.
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!
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.
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".