Today’s big announcement is that Flash is getting an update to 10.1 that will bring support for full Flash functionality to a lot of mobile phones — except, of course, for the iPhone, which remains staunchly Flash-independent. Google Android, Symbian, and now BlackBerry are all signed […]


Today’s big announcement is that Flash is getting an update to 10.1 that will bring support for full Flash functionality to a lot of mobile phones — except, of course, for the iPhone, which remains staunchly Flash-independent.

Google Android, Symbian, and now BlackBerry are all signed on with Flash to work together on the Open Screen Project, which is designed to bring the full-fledged Flash experience to all platforms, including HD video and Adobe Air applications. Apple looks to be missing the boat, but just what kind of seafaring vessel is it really passing up here?

Granted, Flash 10.1 promises to deliver big improvements in the way devices handle YouTube, which is a real, tangible benefit that everyone can appreciate. But what about the rest of it? Adobe Air apps on all platforms? I don’t like Air on the desktop, and I already avoid it at all costs (which basically means I don’t have to use it as long as I don’t have to use Windows). And aside from Air, what has Flash really done for me lately?

There are two instances where I notice the lack of Flash on my iPhone while browsing. The first is when visiting some band and many big-budget movie and game sites. The second is when I run into some instances of online advertising (really, both are promotional tools and could probably fall under the “advertising” blanket category).

With movie/gaming sites, I sometimes make a note to check it out at home if I really care, or I just shrug my shoulders and check out something else. I don’t spend the next 10 minutes swearing softly to myself and cursing Apple for keeping me from my pre-packaged corporate promotional material. Nor do I feel as though I’m now somehow worse off than my friends with Flash Lite-enabled devices.

Add to this the fact that CSS animation and other dynamic HTML effects are making exciting strides, and that these will likely be included in future W3 specifications and eventually bypass the need for things like Flash altogether, and my level of envy would dip even further, were that actually possible.

So am I terribly upset that Apple won’t be taking part in the wonderful new world of Flash 10.1, which should ensure that shooting the duck to win a prize in an annoying animated banner ad will be the same edifying experience on my desktop and on my mobile device? In a word, no. In many words, I’m glad that Apple continues to adhere to its policy of staying away from a tech that may be widespread, but in point of fact offers very little value.

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  1. what has flash done for you lately?

    60 million people are playing Farmville ?

    1. I can’t imagine it would be easy to play a Flash game from within a multi touch web browser. How would you possibly be able to tell the browser the difference between scrolling within the page and moving things around within the Flash game?? I think that would be incredibly frustrating.

  2. “I don’t like Air on the desktop, and I already avoid it at all costs (which basically means I don’t have to use it as long as I don’t have to use Windows).”

    Care to explain why? I find Air ok, except that it doesn’t have OS X style keyboard bindings.

    1. That alone should be reason enough to stay far away from it. If they can’t even do something so basic right…

    2. I think this is a classic Mac apologist statement. “Apple doesn’t support it” – hence it’s bad!

      Why we need Flash in iPhone? Cause there are many important, interactive (and USABLE) dashboards and Flash video sites (apart from YouTube).

      BTW – all of my ‘computing-devices’ are from Apple – iPhone, iMac, and Macbook Pro.

  3. My thought on this is that Apple does not want to contribute to a company’s growth if they don’t have to, the less 3rd party dependent features that they offer the more chances they get to develop or have developers make everything else work for Apple stuff, for them… good move, for the user… not so good, another example like that is, the purchase of a Maps company back in July of this year.

    My prediction: Google is going to become the largest entity world wide for web-based everything: Search Engine of course, OS, email, Phone provider, Health Care, Mapping, Banking, Billing, Social Networking, etc. just wait and you will see.

  4. Hello! It’s not about flash games for the iphone, it’s about HULU, and its many cousins which are flash dependant…

    1. Exactly, we want Hulu, or Hulu should do like youtube: throw any format at you based on device…

  5. I for one, have a great dislike for flash. I find it bulky, and extremely over used. Prior to web 2.0 I understood its purpose and its use, but as you said with the strides from CSS and DHTML, the purpose is no longer there imo.

  6. The OSP terms are not easy to digest. Announcing membership and alignment with OSP does not imply they will ship products….
    I am also not sure if Flash Video support is really differentiating.

  7. I think it makes sense that Apple won’t include Flash … and yes I think it’s in-part due to some of the annoyances you mentioned, but mainly because it would allow free (AIR) apps to become available to the iPhone and fundamentally break the app-store model.

    You mention that you don’t like AIR but don’t mention why. I’m curious, as you seem fine with DHTML … and Apple obviously :) AIR uses the WebKit engine (the same one used in Safari), plus AIR apps can be built using JavaScript alone (http://www.aptana.org/air) so I’d be interested to know what particular problems you have with AIR?

    Most complaints I’ve seen about Flash Flex & AIR focus on aspects of poor application implementation and are little or nothing to do with the technology itself. However, when apps are developed well they can be of great merit. Check out http://www.hobnox.com/audiotool , http://www.lovelycharts.com/ & http://www.balsamiq.com for decent examples. Really! Spend a bit of time with each one and I’d love to hear some genuine feedback on what you do &don’t like about each one.

    Any technology can be misused and the more powerful it is, the more the scope for misuse … with HTML5’s new tags such as Canvas I’m sure we will see a host of truly awful things in HTML5 … I wonder whether people will blame HTML5 or the creators of the content? There are certainly things I don’t like about Flash but much of the bad wrap comes from it being misused and that is the fault of the app/website creator more so than the technology. Many other complaints address irritations that were actually fixed years ago.

    … and yes I am a Flex developer. I’m not afraid to knock the technologies I use when they deserve it (and I’ve been very critical of them at times), but I just don’t think many of the arguments I read these days are actually that balanced. For example, it seems very short sighted to blame Flash for adverts; When hideous animated ads are easily achievable in HTML5, will you be saying you hate HTML5 because someone uses a Canvas element to deliver a nauseating ad to the page? I hope not because that’s misplaced.

    For the record, I don’t really miss Flash on the iPhone other than having the ability to get (or create) apps for free :)

  8. @Richard:
    I agree, and would like to add:
    My impression is that it’s a flaky peessa cr**. I use it a lot because my kids love watching Sesame Street videos (note: nevermind copyright issues for th moment) but I have no choice, and it frequently crashes. My guess is that Adobe doesn’t bother with quality because they’re happy to let Microsoft take the blame, which they don’t deserve in this case. (I’m running Windows 7 RTM.)

    Silverlight is much, much better IMO. Hooray for honest competition!

  9. I agree with Darell and Richard, I see no need for Flash on my iPhone and am happy that it is not on it. I only hope that if Apple ever decides to let Flash on the iPhone that they will provide a on/off switch for those of us that don’t want it.

  10. Dr Robert Schertzer Monday, October 5, 2009

    I still come across websites that are using Flash on a daily basis, and they are not for big movies, games and ads. I do agree we don’t need Adobe Air on the iPhone but some implementation of Flash would help as it is easier for one company, ie Apple, to implement something for the iPhone than for untold 10s of thousands of websites to rewrite their sites with “CSS animation and other dynamic HTML effects.” As iPhone users we should not have to be blocked from content everyone else can access just because Steve Jobs wants to stand on principle.

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