Will Adobe Ever Get Flash on the iPhone?

Flash for the iPhone SDK

How much kicking can an re-un-dead horse take before there's just nothing left but steaming, rotting, fertilizer?

Speaking of which, Adobe is back in the news, again, touting Flash for the iPhone, again, and wondering out loud if Apple will support it, again. Just a couple days ago we went over some of the challenges and potential solutions to Flash on the iPhone, and we've already covered the neglectful bloat and bugs (Adobe's never bothered to optimize Flash for OS X), security (opens additional attack vectors for hackers), and privacy (keeps secret cookies) issues that come with Flash, so why is this back on the radar? Politics.

Adobe is hoping the outcry from the ZOMG! Vidz! fan base, which probably doesn't know about the above, but really wants to watch all that free porn video, combined with pressure from Google's more "open" Android environment (which may or may not actually support Flash, and if it does, may or may not do so in a usable, non-evil manner), will force Apple to let Flash in the door.

We doubt it. AJAX for WebApps and Cocoa Touch for real Apps sucks the "air" out of Adobe's Flash-pirations, and we're pretty sure that's a Good Thing for iPhone users (though, admittedly, not for Flash/Flex developers eager to get on Apple's device but not willing to do so using standard or Apple-provided frameworks).

Personally, while we can see the slim chance for a stripped down, highly-optimized (and 3rd party cookie free!) Flash Player app for video and video alone, we don't see Adobe getting what they really want: their bid for a Rich Internet Application development environment onto the most used mobile platform on the market.

Daring Fireball thinks it's a non-starter as well. How about you? Think we'll ever see Flash on the iPhone? Do we even want to? If so, why?

(Thanks Terry for the tip!)

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Will Adobe Ever Get Flash on the iPhone?


I'd like to see Hulu videos, personally.
What's up with Adobe's mobile Flash in CS4? I read something about it somewhere, maybe Mobility Today, but haven't seen anyone talk about it.

I'd like to see them as well. But they lock non-US IP addresses out of their site :(
If they opened it up, and offered a QT H.264 stream, it would be awesome!

Counter points any?
(I've developed using Flash since Flash 2, and still do a bit with CS3, but I'm not as sold on it -- or Adobe's plans for it -- as I used to be, and Macromedia's shady legacy still taints it, IMHO)

this really needs to be resolved asap. I know that RIM has support for it on their new 4.5 os. apple and adobe need to get there stuff together or apple could lose it's spot as a premium Internet smartphone.

Look - TIB really MUST stop with all this Flash hating...for well over a decade Flash has brought all kinds of fantastic functionality and innovation to an internet that desperately needed it. And touting AJAX as the solution is simply ignorant as you can't even come close to accomplishing the same tasks in anything resembling the same amount of time. Look at how much code it requires just to create an image of Homer Simpson. Then think about the time effort and overhead of trying to animate him or make him interactive...
Simply put, Apple is waging war on Adobe - and there is a long history there and bad blood on both sides...none the less, MORE technology delivery options is MORE BETTER. Less options means more likely hood of monopoly.
It'll be interesting to see what happens with Flash on Android.
And where Android phones vs iPhone are in another 6-12 months.
Don't think for a minute Apple can't become yesteryears Micro$oft fanboyz n girlz...

Fair enough. Flash is like my ex-girlfriend, if my ex was Lindsay Lohan and I had to keep seeing her paparazzi-pic'd benders every time my browser popped open.
For a long time their proprietary lockdown on FLA was a deal-breaker for me. Coming from a traditional animation background, their method was also weird and zany. Their "Open Screen" is addressing this. But their use of cookies needs to be fixed. No way they can justify letting advertisers re-enable browser deleted cookies, especially when giving users non-obvious methods of controlling this.
Likewise, their attempts to turn Flash into Java, including code execution in the data space, are troubling for security.
If Flash was just animation and video, fine. Overused and not usability friendly at times, of course, but doing what they do best. AIR, and its initiative, are an over-reach, IMHO.
...But I'd love my fellow TiPbsters to correct me if I'm wrong!

We doubt it. AJAX for WebApps and Cocoa Touch for real Apps sucks the “air” out of Adobe’s Flash-pirations, and we’re pretty sure that’s a Good Thing for iPhone users (though, admittedly, not for Flash/Flex developers eager to get on Apple’s device but not willing to do so using standard or Apple-provided frameworks).

Yes, but here in the real world, there are about 400 bazillion already existing web sites, many of which do actually useful things, that don't work without Flash. Your touting of some imaginary universe in which lions lay down with the lambs, everyone gets a pony, and developers write all their websites using technologies that you personally approve of, is not solving my actual problem - I want to look at sites like Pollster.com (whose charts & graphs use Flash) on my iPhone! And I can't, because big Steve has gotten mad at Adobe, and taken all his marbles and gone home. As for the potential security issues involved in Flash... maybe I'm a big enough boy to decide for myself whether I want to take that risk.
This is yet another example of the users paying the price of Apple's paternalism. More freedom, please.

the only reason I don't mind not having FLASH on my iPhone is because I don't have to wait for the (very many) ads that are in FLASH now all over the Internet. If there was a way to disable it, then I could enjoy sites that embed flash as their primary content.

The only reason I'd like Flash on the iPhone is for videos. I watch a lot of videos online and most players stream through Flash-based programs.
If there were a way to make just video compatible without the other nonsense, I'd be overjoyed.

there should be a way to tell mobile safari if there's a quicktime compatible version of the video in the flash wrapper, and provide a link to play that.
that'd be better that letting flash do its thing.
mobile safari crashes enough already, dammit.

Yes we need Flash on the iPhone/Touch. It is the difference between a FULL web experience and one that is full of ugly holes. The plugin should be stripped and safe but it should play video and animation. I have been a web developer for years and for as long as I can remember all my clients insist on some level of flash content to make their sites interesting. Without Flash our beloved device is a blog reader and little more.
Come on Adobe and Apple, play nice!

It is pathetic that we don't have Flash on our iPhones yet. Simply put politics aside I'm embarassed we don't have it. A do worker had some fancy shmancy phone and was watching tv on it for cryin out loud. Not to mention he could browse any website done in Flash. Simply pathetic!!!!! Apple and Adobe need to get their act together and get to it! While you're at it Mail needs to be able to rotate too!! Sucks writing emails vertically.

Apple listening to their consumers who spend mega bucks on their products is about directly proportional to president gw bush and his public approval rating from his fellow citizens that trusted him... Bush's approval rating and apples willingness to allow flash is exactly the same percent. And it doesn't look like we're headed into double digits anytime soon... Enjoy your iPhones... Amidst the peer pressure to get one myself, I think I'll wait until something better comes out that offers a TRUE Internet experience, not this half-assed second rate "boo fucking hoo, adobe has been mean to me so take that" attitude... Enjoy!!!

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