Adobe brings Flash to mobile, but not iPhone

Software firm Adobe announced plans for a full fledged Flash player for mobile devices on Monday, although there is still no sign of a break in the deadlock between it and Apple.

James Middleton

October 5, 2009

3 Min Read
Adobe brings Flash to mobile, but not iPhone
Flash will be replaced by HTML5 on Android

Software firm Adobe announced plans for a full fledged Flash player for mobile devices on Monday, although there is still no sign of a break in the deadlock between it and Apple.

Flash Player 10.1 is designed to work on smartphones, smartbooks and netbooks as well as PCs and other internet-connected devices. A public developer beta of the browser-based runtime is expected to be available for Windows Mobile and Palm webOS later this year, while public betas for Google Android and Symbian are expected to be available in early 2010.

In addition, Adobe and Research In Motion (RIM) announced a joint collaboration to bring Flash to BlackBerry smartphones, while Google joined Adobe’s Open Screen Project initiative.

The Open Screen Project, which numbers almost 50 industry players among its member base, was established to develop a consistent runtime environment that works across mobile phones, desktops and other consumer electronic devices. Flash Player 10.1 is the first consistent runtime release of the Project and claims to allow designers and developers to reuse code and assets and reduce the cost of creating, testing and deploying content across different operating systems and browsers.

Apple remains absent from the list of mobile device players working to get Flash onto their handsets, suggesting that Adobe and Apple are still at an impasse with regards to getting the software onto the iPhone.

The row over Flash on the iPhone was kicked off early in 2008 at an Apple shareholders meeting, when frontman Steve 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”. The absence of Flash 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 an iPhone friendly format. The constraints of Apple’s SDK licence for the iPhone have caused a number of big name companies to come unstuck besides Adobe. Notable are Sun and SAP, which pledged to bring Java and SAP respectively to the iPhone, only to find it would have broken Apple’s licensing conditions, which don’t allow for the level of integration these applications need.

It is thought that Adobe has developed a Flash player for the iPhone, but unless Apple gives it the green light, it’s not going anywhere, as the App Store is the only (official) channel to market.

“With Flash Player moving to new mobile platforms, users will be able to experience virtually all Flash technology based Web content and applications wherever they are,” said David Wadhwani, general manager and vice president of the platform business unit at Adobe. “We are excited about the broad collaboration of close to 50 industry leaders in the Open Screen Project and the ongoing collaboration with 19 out of the top 20 handset manufacturers worldwide. It will be great to see first devices ship with full Flash Player in the first half of next year.”

About the Author(s)

James Middleton

James Middleton is managing editor of | Follow him @telecomsjames

Get the latest news straight to your inbox.
Register for the newsletter here.

You May Also Like