WHY we are not going to see Flash on the iphone for a looongg time.

I’ve written a few posts.. ok, a number of posts on how annoyed I am that Flash in not on the iphone. My biggest complaint is the lack of video support.  But WHY?  What we hear from Adobe is that there are technical issues and its up to them to solve. Riiiigghhtt..  Yes, I’m sure there are technical issues, but not as you might think.  The problem is that Flash, like Java, has the capability to be its own OS on top of another OS. If you do not know already, there are a number of virtual desktops running in Flash that you can load within your web browser (‘g.ho.st’ is a good example).  The beauty of this solution is the ability to take your desktop with you from machine to machine. Great.  Wellll, not so great as far as Apple is concerned.  Let’s remember that Apple are control freaks, almost to the point of being clinical. So to allow flash (or Java) on the iphone with access, (even limited) to OS level calls, could set up the possibility of a platform on a platform situation.  So imagine we have Flash running on the iphone.  It would pretty easy, as I used to be a pretty hard core Flash programmer, to set up a desktop with icons and widgets. People could call applications on the fly because you can insert flash apps into flash in real time. Include video support, socket connections and access to storage (even session limited) and you could have a phone OS within a phone OS including calling and running 3rd party applications.  Waaiitt a minute.  Now, we have a problem. Apple makes a LOT of money on it’s apps store.  It also has control on what can and cannot be in the store. So image the possible review loss. But people still want Flash!  And Apple cannot openly say, ‘ well, we do not want to run the risk of losing our cash cow, much less have to support something we will lose money on.’

Solution?

Allow Flash on the phone, BUT, with limitations.  For example, a flash app CANNOT load another flash app remotely.  Flash can only have very limited access to the file system. How about a limit on footprint? CPU usage limit?  I can think of more, but you get the idea.  By putting strict limitations on how Flash is allowed to operate within the iPhone OS, they can constrain Flash enough to insure it cannot be a threat.

So what are Adobes options?  Right now, none. They have to play to the rules Apple gives them, however, Andriod, Microsoft mobile, Sybian, soon the Pre and perhaps blackberry may not have such issues… Well, maybe blackberry will have a few issues. So why is Adobe still willing to play this game?  Two reasons.. First, even with limitations, there will be TONS of flash programmers (I would be one of them) who would love to write for the iphone, even with limitations. Second, flash video. If they can get flash video running on the iPhone, this will insure Flash Video will continue to be the dominate player.  Makes you wonder if anther limitation Apple will place is not Flash video eh?

G.ho.st: An example of Flash as a desktop UI.

ghost

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