TiPb loves answering your emails, but we also love sharing our answers with the community in hopes that more people will benefit, and even better answers will present themselves (hey, that's why we have them forums!). For today's debut TiPb Answers, reader Michael asks:

I can't believe that my pet iPhone omission wasn't a choice in the poll of what we'd like to see in iPhone 2.2. Flash support! Maybe a system update isn't necessary to roll out Flash, but that has been my only gripe with my iPhone (other than having to deal with AT&T during purchase and setup). I can't watch Hulu, or other Flash based video on my phone without it. I've wondered if this isn't exactly Apple's intent - why permit Hulu to compete with the iTunes store? What do you think?

TiPb answers, after the jump!

Our understanding is a little different than the above, Michael, so please bear with us as we go back a bit and get into Flash a little more deeply.

First, video is only one of the things Flash does (and some would argue while Flash does make video ubiquitous, it wasn't until they jumped to the H.264 codec -- same as Apple uses in iTunes -- that they made it actually watchable!), it's not the only thing or even the main (technologically speaking) thing. What Flash does, in broad stroke, is make interactive animation on the internet, and this interactivity has grown over the years into a fairly sophisticated scripting language in its own right. Yet, despite what UK courts might think, it remains a proprietary third party add on, and regardless of its popularity, is not really part of the core internet (read: web, including HTML, CSS, and Javascript).

Currently, the major uses of Flash on the internet consist of:

  1. Video wrappers, like YouTube and similar sites.
  2. Multi-media websites, like movie studies often employ to present more dynamic, more *protected* content.
  3. Rich internet applications, such as Adobe's Photoshop express, which seeks to make Flash a/the standard for WebApps.
  4. Hyper-annoying "punch the monkey"-style adverts that enable user-tracking more secretly and robustly than regular web snooping.

While you asked about #1, we have to understand that a FULL Flash deployment on the iPhone would also bring the others as well, along with the historically bloated, buggy implementations Adobe has never seen fit to address on the desktop OS X, and the various security and privacy issues that go along with it. Bottom-line, full-on-Flash is basically a code interpreter like Java, which adds a far greater burden to resources while making the device far more vulnerable to hackers, and lets advertisers annoy and invade us to deal-breaking degree. Bottom-line? We'll probably not see desktop-class Flash support in near to far future, and while Flash-centric developers should lament that, users should probably be ecstatically happy about that.

Want to make your rich internet WebApp for the iPhone? Use AJAX. Want to make a Batman site that take 10 minutes to load, won't scale to the iPhone screen size and protects your valuable Hollywood content from -- gasp -- a fan downloading an image? Stick to HTML. Want to clutter out MobileSafari with Flash monkey nonsense while slipping insidious cookies onto our system? Don't let the lack of support hit you on the apps on the way out...

As to Flash-video in the specific -- this is far more likely. While politics between Apple and Adobe may be playing a part, it's not impossible to imagine either a simple Flash video plugin that passes the video off into an intermediary player similar to the existing Quicktime plugin.

For us, this would be the best solution as it would give the most popular aspect of Flash (ZOMG! Vidz!) to the masses, while sandboxing the security and privacy issues, and hopefully forcing Adobe to create a better, and more optimized OS X application (similar to how Apple streamlined Quicktime X for the iPhone).

With regards to Hulu, please first remember it's a US-only site, which while a huge percentage of the iPhone user-base, is basically dead to the 69+ other countries that will get the iPhone in 2008. However, before NBC patched things up with iTunes, they did flirt with providing a similar service directly to iPhone users anyway. So we imagine that Hulu could fairly easily add iPhone support if they wanted to, not to mention give a little love to those of us outside the US (understanding the complex rights messes they've gotten themselves into over the years...)

Anyone have anything to add for Michael?