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Apple, Adobe get into spat over Flash

Tonight Apple frontman Steve Jobs will reveal the company's road map to allowing third party native applications to be developed for the iconic iPhone. A whole slew of applications are expected to follow, including many designed to give the device some credibility in the business arena. But one application that probably won't be on the list is Adobe Flash.

James Middleton

March 6, 2008

2 Min Read
Apple, Adobe get into spat over Flash

Tonight Apple frontman Steve Jobs will reveal the company’s road map to allowing third party native applications to be developed for the iconic iPhone.

Jobs is expected to lift the curtain on the iPhone Software Development Kit (SDK) at an event in Cupertino, California.

A whole slew of applications are expected to follow, including many designed to give the device some credibility in the business arena. But one application that probably won’t be on the list is Adobe Flash.

The absence of the Flash video playing platform on the iPhone has been criticised as one of the device’s main failings.

The vast majority of video available on the internet is encoded in Flash, and although Apple struck a deal with YouTube to get the popular video sharing site onto the iPhone, users have still been locked out of a boatload of content.

YouTube itself uses Flash, and in order to get onto the iPhone, it had to re-encode all its videos in a friendly format.

Fuel was thrown on the fire earlier this week at the Apple shareholders meeting, when Jobs reportedly said that Flash was “too slow to be useful” on the iPhone and Flash Lite was “not capable of being used with the web”. Flash Lite is the version of the video player that ships with many mobile phones such as the Nokia N series.

In the wake of these comments, conspiracy theorists have come up with myriad suggestions as to why Jobs wants to keep Flash off the iPhone. Some say the infamous performance issues of badly coded Flash will show the iPhone up as a not particularly powerful device, while others say that he’s just posturing for a stronger bargaining position when the time comes to put Flash on the device. After all, Flash isn’t just about video, it can also be a powerful application delivery platform, especially when used with Adobe Flex.

Whatever the case, the remarks sparked a response from Ryan Stewart, a rich internet application evangelist on the Adobe Platform Team. “Some of the slickest devices on the market like the Nokia N95 and Sony Mylo are shipping with Flash Lite. We’ve got a lot of partners, 450 Million flash enabled devices out there and we’re looking at 1 Billion devices with Flash by the 2010,” he said on his blog. “I’d even go as far as to say that the web experience isn’t complete on the iPhone until some kind of Flash support is added.”

Sounds like fighting talk to me.

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James Middleton

James Middleton is managing editor of telecoms.com | Follow him @telecomsjames

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