28 Comments

Summary:

The ongoing back-and-forth between Apple and Adobe over Flash on the iPhone is well-documented. First it was, then wasn’t, then was, then probably wasn’t again a possibility. If we take Apple CEO Steve Jobs at his word, then the problem lies with Flash being too heavy […]

The ongoing back-and-forth between Apple and Adobe over Flash on the iPhone is well-documented. First it was, then wasn’t, then was, then probably wasn’t again a possibility. If we take Apple CEO Steve Jobs at his word, then the problem lies with Flash being too heavy and Flash Lite being too insubstantial. And as it stands, Flash appears to violate the existing terms of the SDK, an area where Apple seems unwilling to be flexible.

The latest move in this complicated chess game is by Adobe, and it’s not a direct retort. Instead, MacNN reports the multimedia powerhouse is announcing today that they will be rolling out an ARM-optimized version of Flash 10 in 2009, while not mentioning any specific phones by name. Of course, iPhone followers will know that the current processor for Apple’s cellular device is the Samsung ARM 1176, meaning that it would benefit from Adobe’s proposed optimization.

Flash Lite, which until now has largely stood in for Flash on handheld platforms, doesn’t pack anywhere near the punch of its full-fledged sibling, which is itself sluggish on the iPhone. The proposed new ARM-optimized Flash would use OpenGL ES 2.0-capable hardware and newer, faster processors to allow complex apps and advanced video to come to portable devices, without sacrificing speed and usability. The move could also see the introduction of Adobe AIR applications on smartphones, which would be a first.

While it is positioned as a move which encompasses a wide range of devices, the optimizations described fit the iPhone’s current hardware capabilities perfectly, and seem tailored to Jobs’ comments regarding Flash’s suitability for implementation on the device. Adobe seems not only willing to make concessions, but to eliminate any possible excuse Apple may have not to use the updated software. Combined with the decision to offer AIR and Flash to developers without royalty, which will definitely increase adoption, the optimized version will be hard for Cupertino to pass up. Or, if they do, they’ll have an even harder time explaining why to consumers.

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  1. Perhaps they should optimize it to run on the Mac, first.

  2. I agree with Galley, but I’d also say that it’s going to require more than Apple simply approving a “Flash Player” application on the App Store. For the kind of integration Adobe needs for it to be viable, Apple would have to modify Mobile Safari so that it could either A: support inline plugins, or B: have the ability to launch another iPhone application to handle inline content (like Flash). Neither one of those seems likely to happen. Mobile Safari barely runs on the iPhone as it is (it is clearly CPU-limited), and running another app on top of it seems unlikely to work. On the other hand, Apple can’t build Mobile Safari to support plugins and justify not supporting plugins other than Flash.

    In the end, this is all immaterial. Flash runs an ActionScript interpreter and that’s expressly forbidden by the SDK agreement.

    Personally, the only time I miss Flash is when I visit a link with Flash video. So far as I’m concerned, Flash video needs to die. Give me real video files in a standard format like H.264 any day.

  3. Jason Terhorst Monday, November 17, 2008

    I also wouldn’t miss Flash. Now that animation/transitions can be done in Javascript (through a few different techniques), there isn’t really any point. And H.264 can pull the slack in video.

    Just a moment ago, I had to wait a minute and a half for the Star Trek movie site (built on Flash) to load, only to get a link to the Apple trailer site for the trailer I wanted to see. Kind of a waste.

  4. Flash does support H.264, why it needs to die?

  5. seriously, who the hell cares?
    Personally I’m really enjoying the web without banners yet still being able to view things like YouTube and BBC iPlayer

  6. Flash sí, Flash no, vuelve el culebrón | Zumo de Iphone Tuesday, November 18, 2008

    [...] Visto en TheAppleBlog. [...]

  7. So port it to run on Android with Webkit.

  8. I hate Flash. Keep it off the iPhone, please.

  9. “I also wouldn’t miss Flash. Now that animation/transitions can be done in Javascript (through a few different techniques), there isn’t really any point…”

    Obviously this kid downloads jQuery and suddenly thinks he’s some sort of JS-jedi who can do anything with javascript. These are the kids who talk about the capabilities of flash as if it were restricted to only showing pictures or or making the navbars that only a rook would make in flash anyway! And they’ll tell you – “I know all about flash, I use flash all the time”…they mean in the CS interface

    Kid, go read a book and ACTUALLY learn a programming language.

    …tool.

  10. I wonder if an online petition from the people would help encourage Steve Jobs to put aside his ego and listen to what the people want for a change. The internet is broken on the iphone and touch until it gets flash. Hopefully with the google phone getting flash it will provide incentive for flash to finally come to the iphone.

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